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September 2002, Volume 9, Number 9

Australia, New Zealand

The Australian government, in a continuing effort to prevent boats from sailing from Indonesia to Australia, announced plans to remove more than 3,000 islands from the Australian migration zone. The aim of the policy is to force smuggling boats closer to the Australian mainland, making it easier to catch the smugglers.

In August 2001, the Norwegian ship Tampa rescued 460 migrants from a sinking ship, and Australia refused to allow the Tampa to unload the migrants. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the no-landing policy has been successful: "if we had handled it differently we would have had people still sailing, we would have had people still drowning and people who are not entitled to priority refugee claims getting resettled in Australia... We would have gone the same way as Switzerland, which abandoned offshore resettlement when the numbers [of asylum seekers] got too large."

In the past few years, Australia has granted asylum or three-year temporary visas to hundreds of Afghans seeking asylum. It now appears that many of those claiming to be Afghans were Pakistanis, including a man whose sons broke out of a detention camp and sought asylum at the British consulate in July 2002. They were refused, and returned to the detention center [the man was an Afghani who had spent "many years" in Pakistan].

Australia records entries and exits, and reported that in 2001-02, only 1.85 percent of the foreigners arriving in Australia overstayed their visas; the violation rate was below two percent for the first time. Since Australia approved 98 percent of visa applications in 2001-02, the government emphasized that foreign visitors were obeying immigration laws.

New Zealand. Some 52,856 immigrants were accepted in the year ending June 30, 2002, the highest number since 1995-96, when 54,400 immigrants were accepted. The leading countries of origin were China, 8,750; Indian, 8,430; and the UK, 6,593. Other major sources of immigrants were South Africa, 4,303; Fiji, 2,967; South Korea, 2,285; Samoa, 1,952; Malaysia, 1,856; Taiwan, 1,269; and, the Philippines, 1,381. New Zealand's 2001 census found 240,000 Asians, making them about six percent of the population. Most immigrants settle in the Auckland area, which generates a third of New Zealand's GDP

New Zealand's Labor Party won 40 percent of the vote in July 2002 elections, returning Helen Clark to power as prime minister, with support from the Progressive Party and the Christian-backed United Future party.

New Zealand is taking 136 of the migrants who were headed to Australia in the smuggling ship Tampa in August 2001-they are initially taken to New Zealand's Mangere Refugee Resettlement Center. New Zealand accepts 750 refugees for resettlement each year and received 3,349 asylum seekers in 1999 and 2000.

Grant Holloway, "Australia may deport hundreds to Pakistan," CNN, August 23, 2002. Matthew Moore, "Boat people stopped in Indonesia," The Age, August 24, 2002. Michael Millett, "Asylum rejections ruled invalid," Sydney Morning Herlad, August 9, 2002. "Williams plays down refugee ruling," Australian Associated Press, August 9, 2002. Kerry Taylor, "Excising islands 'will make it easier to catch people smugglers,'" The Age, August 7, 2002. "56 refugees on Nauru allowed into Australia," Canberra Times, August 7, 2002.