Almost 50,000 people who have had claims for asylum rejected after arriving by plane are still in Australia awaiting deportation.
Labor is blaming the new record high on a Morrison government backlog, raising concerns people smugglers are increasingly using planes to traffic exploited workers.
“Not only are the number of airplane arrivals increasing, the backlog of claims is blowing out even more,” opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said on Monday.
There are now 46,931 people waiting for deportation after being denied protection.
Only one person per month was forcibly deported in December and January after being refused refugee status, according to the latest government figures.
Fewer than 20 people per month left voluntarily.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said people who arrived by plane and then sought protection are known to authorities and have undergone health and security checks, unlike those who arrived by boat under Labor’s watch.
In January alone, almost 2000 people arrived by plane and claimed asylum in Australia, with 25,000 people expected over the course of the financial year