MORE than 30,000 people could come to Australia by boat next year and more lives will be lost unless the opposition parties and the refugee sector support all of the recommendations of the government's expert panel, one of its members said on Monday.
Paris Aristotle urged all parties in the asylum seeker debate to ''come out of their trenches'' and get behind the recommendations, predicting that this would result in a significant drop in boat arrivals.
''I think they could come down next year if the panel's recommendations are implemented progressively,'' Mr Aristotle said after appearing before a parliamentary committee on human rights.
He told the committee that, at the present rate of arrivals, the navy was at risk of being overwhelmed by boats in distress. ''If everyone stays in their trenches - as they have been for ages - or digs even further into those trenches as what's been happening, then we won't protect anyone. As sure as we're sitting here today, over the Christmas period when we're sitting down with family enjoying our Christmas time together, there will be people going down in boats.''