This boatpeople phenomenon is essentially a determined Muslim immigration...A former senior officer of the Immigration Department spoke to me this week, on condition of anonymity, on the way the illegal immigration trade to Australia has become regularised, from Iran in particular. When he first got involved in this issue, Iranians and others would go to Malaysia, then on to Indonesia, and it would be months before they could find a people-smuggler. Now, he says, it is more often like a travel agent service, with everything arranged inside Iran.
Sheridan is concerned that this wave of Muslim immigration will bring to Australia ongoing security problems. So far there have been 40,000 boatpeople arrivals under Labour and this number will increase through family reunion. If you have 80,000 most will be law-abiding, but there will be some who will get involved in terrorism. The larger the overall number, the more difficult it becomes for the security organisations to control the situation.
The other interesting information that Sheridan provides are the unemployment numbers for the boat people. Most of those arriving are low-skilled and with poor English language skills. The rate of employment, even after five years, is abysmal:
The Immigration Department's figures, released last year, revealed that five years after arrival the rate of employment - not unemployment but employment - of Afghans was 9 per cent, while 94 per cent of Afghan households received Centrelink payments. From Iraq, 12 per cent were employed while 93 per cent of families received Centrelink payments. Overall, households that came under the humanitarian program had 85 per cent receiving Centrelink payments after five years. The family reunion cohort had 38%, and skilled migration 28 per cent.
Those are sobering figures. Even the skilled migration programme has 28% of families receiving Centrelink payments. But you can see how costly to the public purse the arrival of boat people really is: roughly 90% are unemployed even after five years in Australia. At the moment there are 3000 arriving every month or 36,000 per year. Of those 30,600 will require ongoing unemployment benefits. In just over three years there will be 100,000 requiring unemployment benefits, plus other family and rent assistance payments, plus the costs of education, health care and so on.
I should point out that even if the economic costs weren't so high traditionalists would still be opposed to mass, ongoing, diverse immigration. That's because we believe that the different ethnic and national traditions are important to preserve, and so we don't want them to be undermined by open borders.