Australia, Asia, and Asylum Seekers

Sri Lankan asylum seekers engage in a hunger strike after their boat broke down on the way to Australia's Christmas Island on October 16, 2009 in Indonesia. (Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)

Australia calls itself the Lucky Country. And, right now things are looking very good indeed.

Vast amounts of iron ore, coal and other minerals are being scooped out of the ground and shipped out as fast as possible, mainly to feed the seemingly insatiable appetite of Chinese industry.

This export boom has heated up the economy, fueled near full employment and helped push up the value of the Aussie dollar to record highs.

The Land Downunder is on a roll. But for all this good news, there is one issue that just won't go away ... illegal immigration.

While relatively tiny compared with the border challenges facing other nations, Australians are finding it hard to grapple with increasing numbers of asylum seekers from Asia arriving on its shores in boats.

Is it that Australians are quite happy to benefit from the economic rise of Asia, but don't want any part of the political and social problems of this fast changing region? 

Check out this video of how one Australian community is reacting to a plan to house a few hundred would-be refugees temporarily near their rural town.

About the Author

Profile picture for user Geoff Spencer
Geoff Spencer oversees Asia Society's online, public relations, and marketing departments. He has over 25 years of experience as an Asia-based journalist.