A growing problem without proper answers

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The immigration department vastly underestimated the number of asylum seekers expected to arrive in Australia this financial year, with up to 25,000 now expected – almost five times more than initial forecasts.

Last year, the immigration department estimated just 5400 asylum seekers would arrive in Australia in 2012-13, before being forced to revise it to to 12,000 in February.

But immigration department secretary Martin Bowles told a budget estimates hearing on Monday that more than 22,500 had arrived in the 2012-13 financial year, about 2200 a month.

Under questioning, Mr Bowles acknowledged this could realistically rise to 24,000 or 25,000 asylum seekers arriving in Australian territories by June 30.

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The government introduced its ”no-advantage” policy on August 13 last year, reopening offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island and saying people who arrived by boat would have their protection claims processed no faster than those who waited for…

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About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.

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