Tiny proportion of boatpeople fail to find the asylum they seek

IMMIGRATION authorities have deported 156 failed asylum-seekers in two years.

That figure is just 2 per cent of the 7000 boatpeople who have arrived in the present wave of boats.

The revelation came after The Australian reported yesterday that more than 90 per cent of unsuccessful Afghan refugee claims were being overturned on appeal.

Despite the high rate of successful appeals, Julia Gillard yesterday ruled out overhauling the refugee merits review system.

As the election campaign moved into its final 24 hours, the Prime Minister received a lifeline from her East Timorese counterpart, Xanana Gusmao, who said Dili had not turned its mind against Ms Gillard's proposal for an offshore processing centre in the fledging nation.

Mr Gusmao's comments came as authorities intercepted a boat carrying 34 people just north of Christmas Island.

Mr Gusmao said Dili was still awaiting details on Ms Gillard's proposal, which was announced last month.

"I would welcome any detailed plan about the issue," Mr Gusmao told the ABC.

"So far we don't have (any). I understand that it is difficult for the prime minister or even other people to present (one) right now. They are busy for the elections."

East Timor's opposition parties, church leaders and senior members of its military have all criticised the idea of an asylum-seeker processing centre in East Timor.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard ruled out reviewing the appeals system set up by the Rudd government to examine asylum cases.

"I don't think they need to be changed and they are exactly the same ones as when Tony Abbott sat round a cabinet table," the Prime Minister said.

The high rate of successful appeals against negative asylum claims suggests the independent reviewers appointed by the Rudd government are not convinced of the Immigration Department's claims that the situation in Afghanistan has improved, a proposition rejected by most experts on Afghanistan.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said yesterday the Coalition would scrap the refugee merits review system, if elected.

The wooden boat that carried 34 people close to Christmas Island on Wednesday night was yesterday moored off Flying Fish Cove alongside another rickety vessel that had brought 52 people less than 24 hours earlier.

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