There is a very high rate of welfare dependency among “refugees”. None of them are in fact genuine refugees. They could have claimed refuge in any of the several countries they passed through on their way to Australia.

SKILLED migration will be slashed in the next year, but the Government expects the number of migrants to reach record levels in the long term. Net migration could reach up to 230,000 arrivals a year, well above the 180,000 expected in 2009-10.

Expectations of more boat people arriving on Australian shores means greater border protection, fewer skilled immigrants and a revamp of the country’s biggest mainland detention centre. While the Rudd Government has tried to play down the recent flurry of people smuggling boats in Australian waters, the Budget highlighted a change in direction.

Border protection measures included $1.3 billion to increase patrols in Australia’s northern waters, including another boat. Two more aircraft will boost aerial surveillance, while more than $100 million has been set aside to strengthen relationships with neighbouring countries and improve co-operation on people smuggling laws. Airport security and international counter-terrorism efforts will be increased, with the Australian Federal Police given an enhanced international role. The Defence Department has earmarked $1.5 billion for an extra 700 Navy recruits.

The skilled migrant intake has been slashed to 108,000 from the Government’s previously planned cap of 133,500. New skilled migrants will need a better grasp of English and will have to meet skills testing targets. But an extra 1000 people will be welcomed to Australia under the humanitarian program and there will be another 3800 places for families.

Overall migration for 2009-10 will fall just short of 169,000 places — down 21,600 on the planned level. The Government said it was planning for the long-term migrant intake to range from 150,000 to 230,000 net arrivals a year.

The Immigration Department has also set aside $40 million over the next four years to further combat people smuggling, specifically those coming from or through Indonesia. Some of this money will help the Indonesian Government manage its detention centres to relieve pressure on Australia’s border patrols.

An extra $12.6 million has been tagged to help Asia-Pacific countries strengthen anti-terrorist measures.

The Immigration Department predicts it will save about $160 million over the next four years through slashing programs and increasing efficiency.