Prompted by strong public opinion against their previous “open door” policies. Since all the Afghans passed through several countries on their way to Australia, NONE of them were in fact seeking refuge. They had refuge as soon as they arrived in Pakistan

MORE than 40 per cent of Afghan asylum-seekers are being rejected as refugees, down sharply on the 95 per cent who were being waved through less than one year ago. Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday said more than 220 Afghans had been denied “in the last month or two”. “They are now getting rejected at quite large rates,” Senator Evans said. “The last percentage I saw was over 40 per cent.”

Afghans comprise the biggest group of asylum-seekers who arrived at Christmas Island last year and so far this year.

Crowding on Christmas Island has prompted the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to look for mainland options to house detainees.

Senator Evans said offers were flowing in from organisations on the mainland wanting to house asylum-seekers from Christmas Island. Those making approaches included maverick West Australian MP Wilson Tuckey, who suggested asylum-seekers could live at a pub in the wheatbelt town of Southern Cross.