Most “asylum seekers” coming to Australia on ramshackle boats are not remotely desperate and are certainly not penniless. They are just economic migrants making a good investment. Leftists however always highlight the cases who tell a good story

ASYLUM-seekers trying to get to Australia paid up to $30 million to people smugglers to make the perilous journey in 2009. In a growing problem for the Federal Government, almost 2700 asylum-seekers were intercepted on 59 unauthorised boats last year. Three boats arrived in just 48 hours this week. The year before, just 161 asylum-seekers arrived on seven boats.

The going rate to get to Australia from Afghanistan is up to $US10,000, or about $A11,000, sources said. Tamils fleeing war-torn Sri Lanka pay less because of the shorter distance.

Refugee advocate Pamela Curr said not all asylum-seekers paid their full travel costs up front; many took out loans. Those rejected as refugees often faced death threats from smugglers when they returned home, she said. Many families faced terrible choices about which family members to send on the journey.

“There was a man on Christmas Island with his daughter,” she said. “He and his wife had five children but she was the one who had to go, the eldest girl, because she had been marked by the Taliban for a forced marriage.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd branded people smugglers the “scum of the earth” last year after a deadly explosion on an unauthorised boat. As more boats arrived, he defended his border protection policies as “tough but humane”.

Flagging a renewed assault on the issue this year, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Government lacked the “steel” to send the boats back. “An Australian government that doesn’t have the option of turning boats back in the right circumstances is a government that is not doing enough,” he said.