Fly in refugees 90% rejection rate

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    Tourist ‘refugees’ arriving in their thousands

    Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo. Picture: Getty Images

    Malaysian and Chinese asylum-seekers are flying into Australia in their thousands — and being overwhelmingly rejected for protection visas — amid a surge in refugee claims by those who enter as tourists.

    New Department of Home Affairs’ figures show the number of asylum-seekers arriving by plane is soaring, growing to more than 27,000 in 2017-18, eclipsing the 18,365 asylum-seekers who arrived by boat at the peak of the refugee crisis.

    Figures show 64,362 people who arrived in Australia by air lodged refugee claims in the four financial years to 2017-18.

    The refusal rate for the so-called onshore asylum claims is about 90 per cent, with only 7615 of applicants granted protection visas that year.

    The figures show 8587 refugee claims were made by those who arrived by air in 2014-15, and 9554 in 2015-16.

    The numbers arriving by plane jumped to 18,290 in 2016-17, hitting 27,931 in 2017-18.

    The biggest onshore asylum claimants by nationality in 2017-18 were Malaysians (9319) and Chinese (9315), followed by Indians (1529), Vietnamese (764) and Pakistanis (589).

    In the same period, just 1425 protection visas were granted, including 297 to applicants from Iraq, 208 to Pakistanis, and 106 to Libyans. Just 90 protection visas were granted to Malaysian applicants and 87 to Chinese nationals in the same period.

    Bill Shorten yesterday attacked Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and his department for failing to stop asylum-seekers at the border.

    “When will this minister take responsibility?” the Labor leader said. “Maybe we wouldn’t have 64,000 people coming here by plane and then getting off the plane and saying, ‘Surprise, I want to claim asylum’.”

    Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo told Senate estimates on Monday the growth in claims by air arrivals was part of a worldwide trend. “We have a 90 per cent rejection rate, typically because for someone who can afford to go through all those processes and get an Australian visa, it’s unlikely … other than in 10 per cent of cases, that they have a well-founded fear of persecution,” he said.

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