by: Tim Blair From:The Daily Telegraph January 28,

ABOUT 350 asylum seekers have been detained already since the start of the year, a rate of 14 per day. If this continues we’ll have more than 5000 asylum seekers in our detention centres by year’s end, in addition to the many thousands already held.

A curious report last week in the Northern Territory News indicated that certain asylum seekers arrive with impressive financial and technological support. The piece aimed to highlight the risk of theft faced by asylum seekers in detention, but of greater interest were the valuables allegedly being stolen or damaged.

The NT News told the story of one Darwin detainee: “Iranian Iraj Taghizadeh said Serco security staff took $1200, an Italian razor, laptop and camera from him and placed them in an unmarked blue bag when he was put in detention. When he was released with 521 others on temporary protection visas in December he had to dig through numerous blue bags to find his broken laptop, camera and wallet that was missing the cash.”

Allegations about damage to private property aside, which Serco says cannot be substantiated, that’s not a bad amount of kit for someone to haul around the world in search of a place of refuge. You need your Italian razor and camera when you’re on the run from religious or political persecution.

Taghizadeh informed the NT News of other alleged theft cases: “He said a friend had $US5600 ($5300) and a phone taken and another had other items missing.”

Whoa. We’ve got asylum seekers turning up with more than five grand in their pockets? And that’s after they’ve already spent loads of cash on airfares from the Middle East to Indonesia, and then thousands more to people smugglers for the final journey to Australian territory? In terms of our island arrivals, these blokes are more Thurston Howell than Gilligan They’re sufficiently cashed up to be paying far above the airfare cost from Indonesia to Australia for the privilege of riding in on a crappy boat. Usual fees for a people smuggler journey run to nearly $10,000. So our latest arrivals aren’t exactly cash poor. Nor are they deficient when it come to supplies of laptops, mobile phones, cameras or Italian shaving equipment.

One question, though. If all of that money and computer equipment and those personal grooming items can make it to Australia from the Middle East, where are the passports?