Asylum seekers from a capsized boat are brought ashore on Christmas Island.
Asylum seekers from a capsized boat are brought ashore on Christmas Island.

Asylum seeker truth pollies don’t admit

A former Border Force chief has confirmed the number of asylum seekers who fly into Australia hugely outnumber those who have arrived on so-called people smuggler boats.

There were 18,290 air arrivals seeking asylum in 2016-17 and 27,931 in 2017-18, according to Roman Quaedvlieg.

"The highest recorded number of boat arrivals in Australia was in 2012-13 at 25,173, less than last year's number of air arrival AS (asylum seekers)," he has written.

About 76 asylum seekers landed at Australian airports per day last year. "It's roughly the equivalent of one boat arrival every day of the year," he said.

Mr Quaedvlieg, a former police officer, was for two years commissioner of Australian Border Force, the agency of uniformed personnel under the Department of Home Affairs.

In May 2017, he was placed on paid leave while a relationship with a woman colleague was investigated. He was dismissed last March for not disclosing the relationship.

Former Border Force Australia Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg says asylum seekers have changed tactics. Picture: Jack Tran
Former Border Force Australia Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg says asylum seekers have changed tactics. Picture: Jack Tran

The data he revealed in an extended Twitter thread has not been highlighted by the Government as it raises public concerns about asylum seeker arrivals by boats operated by people smugglers.

And Mr Quaedvlieg has added to the detail of those coming by boat, who usually are kept from public view and definition once here.

"Contrary to popular opinion, boat travel is not cheaper than air travel," he wrote.

"Average berth from Java-Xmas Island is between $5K-$10K; whereas a flight from Tehran- Sydney is around $1500.

"Boat AS have also spent much money (often by air) to get to transit countries & embarkation points."

He revealed asylum seekers had changed tactics: "There was a time when smugglers were advising boat arrivals to destroy passports to increase prospects of getting asylum, especially when their countries of origin do not have a record of persecution or human rights abuses.

"This didn't work so the practice has largely ceased."

Boat travel is not cheaper than air travel for asylum seekers. Photo: Murty Colin/The Australian
Boat travel is not cheaper than air travel for asylum seekers. Photo: Murty Colin/The Australian

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