THIS year’s monsoon season in Australia’s north brought with it a promise of hope for the Gillard government on asylum-seekers. The rough weather that sets in from late December until early April seemed to guarantee a lull in the spate of boat arrivals after last year’s record influx.
Some senior government officials even dared to hope this lull would allow time for the message about tougher policy responses to filter across the region.
This cautious optimism prevailed for the first two months of the year, even though the numbers of those arriving by boat were roughly equivalent to last year’s figures, with 465 people arriving in January (compared with 301 last year) and 917 in February (compared with 848).
But the events of recent weeks have crushed any hope that the government’s policy is succeeding in deterring asylum-seekers from risking the dangerous boat journey to Australia.
So far this month more than 1700 people have arrived by boat, taking the year’s total to 3111, 2.5 times the 1259 who arrived in the first three months of last year.