News today: Statistics provided by new Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe show 645 people in detention in early August. This is the lowest number since 1999, and compares with 1035 in March.
Only 5 per cent of detainees held in Australia arrived aboard boats, compared with about 14 per cent of those in detention in March and 23 per cent a year ago — 34 unauthorised boat arrivals are in detention in Australia, with another 29 on Nauru.
In March, 146 boat arrivals were in detention in Australia and 54 on Nauru; a year ago 247 boat arrivals were in detention and 82 on Nauru.
The Government's mandatory detention policy remains, but the figures reveal it has a completely different look about it now, following backbench insistence on the release of women, children and families and the Government's desire to get as many people out as possible.
Of the 645 people, 6 per cent are unauthorised air arrivals. Most — 65 per cent — have overstayed visas and another 18 per cent have had their visas cancelled.