Kelvin Davis on Christmas Island

Written By: - Date published: 11:55 am, October 19th, 2015 - 39 comments
Categories: australian politics, crime, human rights - Tags: , , ,

Yesterday I wrote about our lack of influence on Australia on the detention and deportation of Kiwis. Today Key is trying to dress up Aussie platitudes as scraps of progress. But Labour MP Kelvin Davis is taking action:

Christmas Island ‘just like a prison’

Mr Davis is on the island, more than 2500 kilometres northwest of Perth, where about 40 New Zealanders are being held in detention.

Christmas Island was like a bush-covered rock in the ocean, with a hot humid climate and the compound the detainees were in looked just like a prison, he said.

“There’s big fences with razor wire, there’s buildings that look just like a prison in New Zealand – these guys are prisoners, the difference being that they don’t know when their sentence is going to end. It could be tomorrow, it could be in three years time and there are people who have literally been there for three years.”

Mr Davis said he hadn’t been able to get inside the detention centre yet, but he said he had been told the situation inside was not good.

He rejected Prime Minister John Key’s assertion that his trip there was a political stunt, saying his intention had been to draw attention to the plight of kiwis in detention, which is what he said he had done. …

Might be worth watching TV3 News tonight (for a change).

39 comments on “Kelvin Davis on Christmas Island”

  1. Kevin 1

    I bit like Gitmo without the waterboarding.

  2. Tracey 2

    Key: You tell everyone how great I am and how much your and everyone in Australia admires my economic management?

    Turnbull: And I will pretend how hard you pushed me.

    Key: You really do live up to your name!

  3. RedLogix 3

    Someone needs to check their own Agreements:

    ANZCERTA—its genesis and the present

    The first trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand dates back to 1922, and essentially stated that each party would trade with the other. This was followed by the Australia New Zealand Trade Agreement in 1933, by which the two countries gave each other preferences and some special rates of duty. A partial free trade treaty, the New Zealand Australia Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), entered into force in 1966, leading to the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions on 80 per cent of trans-Tasman trade by the late-1970s. Because NAFTA was not structured to address the changing international economic environment and because it lacked an effective mechanism for removing remaining restrictions, Australia and New Zealand agreed to develop a more open bilateral trading system.

    The objectives of ANZCERTA are to:

    strengthen the broader relationship between Australia and New Zealand
    develop closer economic relations between the Member States through a mutually beneficial expansion of free trade between New Zealand and Australia
    eliminate barriers to trade between Australia and New Zealand in a gradual and progressive manner under an agreed timetable and with a minimum of disruption
    develop trade between New Zealand and Australia under conditions of fair competition.

    Since 1 July 1990, all goods meeting ANZCERTA Rules of Origin criteria can be traded across the Tasman free of duty and quantitative import restrictions.

    The Trade in Services Protocol brought services into ANZCERTA from January 1989 allowing most services to be traded free of restriction across the Tasman with limited exclusions which were last reviewed 2014.

    ANZCERTA has underpinned a strong growth in trade across the Tasman with an annual average growth in two-way trade in goods of 6.7 per cent, from 1983 to 2014. New Zealand is currently Australia’s sixth largest trading partner, ninth largest source of foreign investment and third most important destination for Australian investment abroad.

    Over the 32 years of CER, the composition of trade between Australia and New Zealand has changed dramatically, reflecting changes in technology, competitiveness, domestic industry structure, trade liberalisation and consumer demand.

    ANZCERTA forms the foundation of a broader economic and trade relationship with New Zealand. It is supplemented by more than 80 government-to-government bilateral treaties, protocols and other arrangements—covering trade and the movement of people, investment, aviation, business law coordination, mutual recognition of goods and professions, taxation, health care, social security, superannuation portability, food standards and government procurement.

    http://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Free-Trade-Agreements/ANZCERTA

    While CER (as it is commonly known) was primarily a trade agreement – there was always clearly a ‘free travel between the countries’ component, not unlike the same provisions in the EU.

    The problem for NZ is that the agreement has never properly addressed the rights of New Zealanders working in Australia under the broad cover of CER. Because most of them do not vote in either country, both governments have failed to do much to protect their interests.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Kelvin is doing great work – and deserves much stronger backing from Labour back home. And while this human story is important – I’d argue we need to see it in the context of how we want to evolve the broader CER arrangement.

      NZ is an important economic partner of Australia – and in that context we have plenty of strings to pull if they don’t want to play nice.

      • KK 3.1.1

        Kelvin was sent there by Andrew Little as his Corrections spokesperson, because Andrew was in NZ meeting Malcolm Turnbull at the time. Jodi Ihaka who is supporting Kelvin (see tweets in post) is a staff member from Andrew Little’s office.

        Not sure what you’re on about. These days it’s people always attacking Labour on this site without basic facts.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          As an outsider looking in it appears that Kelvin is making this trip – out there on his own. I’m delighted to accept your comment at face value – but that’s not how it’s looking in public right now.

          • KK 3.1.1.1.1

            Lesson there about not jumping to conclusions I guess.

          • Ed 3.1.1.1.2

            It certainly make me ask just what help he could (and perhaps should) be getting from the New Zealand government. This is a member of the New Zealand Parliament wanting to talk to New Zealand Citizens. If it not a prison, why should there be a problem?

            What is our New Zealand embassy doing to help these citizens – being held in detention against their will with no charges against them?

            New Zealand could be doing better – the question has to be whether our government is asking our representatives in Australia to avoid helping those unfortunate to be in prison without trial.

  4. Bill 4

    I’m half remembering NZ deported two Indian children a few years back. It was covered by Campbell Live. I believe they were going to wind up in the slums of Mumbai. I can’t find links, but found this one about Hemani Mall that seems similar.

    Hemani eventually won her case.

    Then there’s the case of Nicole Mihai who married a kiwi, had a child, separated and was then told she was to be deported but couldn’t take her two year old with her.

    And so it goes on and on.

    So, some questions.
    Are people upset because people are being deported? Or are people upset that people are being sent to detention camps?

    And if people are upset at Kiwis being deported from Australia, are they as up in arms when NZ deports people? Then again, if it’s the detention center angle that people find unpalatable, are they as concerned for all the other people banged up on Manus and Nauru as they are for the Kiwis on Christmas?

    • mpledger 4.1

      If these NZers had gone to Australia and then committed some terrible crime (rape, murder, aggravated assault) than I would have no problem with Australia sending them back to NZ. And I have no problem with people being sent back who went their illegally.

      But Australia has gone after people who have really minor offenses, people who have lived the majority of their lives in Australia, people who went there when they were very young and people who had lived a valuable life since committing the crime many years ago.

      The retrospective nature of the law is totally unjust – some of these people might not have committed a crime if they had known that the consequences were going to be deportation to a country they had no memory of and where they know noone. There was one guy who committed arson with his boss so his boss could get the insurance money – it’s incredibly likely that the boss was the instigator and planner and the employee just went out of misplaced loyalty but he’s getting detained and then, most likely, sent to NZ, away from his family and extended family.

      The fact that they don’t let people live in the community while their deportation order and appeals are sorted out is diabolical – it robs their family of any income that the person could be earning to support the family and it robs the children of time with a parent. It robs the person of access to quality legal advice.

      Given Australia’s history of the forced removal of children from their families, you’d think they’d have learned. But, it’s going to bight them on the ass when all these Australian kids of NZ parent/s grow up deprived of a parent because of their own government.

      NZ should not allow NZers to go to Australia except for 2 week holidays, once a year. The Ozzies might start realising the benefits that NZ workers bring to their economy and feel guilty about how they have been shafting them.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Hmm. So thanks for that. I honestly expected to just sit watching tumbleweed while ‘waiting’ for any response to that comment.

        But here’s the thing. Did you view the link on Hemani Mall? Had lived here her whole life and was slated to be gone. Or the link to Nicole Mihai – told she’s being deported but not allowed to take her child?

        No crimes or offences committed by Hemani. And Nicole only unfortunate enough to have a broken relationship.

        These are NZ cases, not isolated, and not at all a million miles away in essence from the Oz ones. In fact, it could be argued that NZ is acting more atrociously than Oz is – at least over the highlighted cases from there.

        Sure, the detention camps are another layer of shit thrown at those people. But as I asked in the original comment, if the outrage is at the camps, then is it to be reserved for Kiwis while others on Nauru or Manus are to be damned to twist in the breeze by public indifference?

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          I don’t think the ‘layer’ is as incidental as that, I think it’s the main point. If you put up a story like Nicole Mihai’s only set in Australia and about a NZ woman, I think most people would find both stories equally shocking and unjust. If one of those women also got put in detention indefinitely, I think you’d find most people would judge the stories differently.

          Not sure that Nauru is comparable either.

        • mpledger 4.1.1.2

          My post was long enough as it was so I stopped.

          The problem is, with both cases, that rewarding people who have children born in NZ with residency, when they have no entitlement otherwise, encourages others to try and do the same. NZ citizenship is a great gift and NZers should have the sole right to bestow it, not have it taken by those willing to break the law to get it.

          In both cases, the people knew a priori that they didn’t have the right to be here. If they wanted residency they should have gone about it properly.

          This is different to the NZers in OZ case. The NZers had a legitimate right to be in OZ and it’s only a change in policy in the last year that has changed the ball game.

          (However, in the case of Nicole Mihai, I think she should be allowed to stay since her child can not leave with her and she is the primary care giver and so the benefit to her NZ son should tip the balance. )

    • So, some questions.
      Are people upset because people are being deported? Or are people upset that people are being sent to detention camps?

      Australia has every right to deport NZ citizens with criminal records, and it’s none of the NZ government’s business. So, not the first one. However, no country has the right to detain people indefinitely without charge, and a country doing it to NZ citizens is very much the NZ government’s business, and NZ’s Prime Minister should be roasting his counterpart publicly in the media for it but hasn’t been because he’s a piece-of-shit corporate weasel masquerading as a prime minister. So, the second one then.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        So, the second one then.

        And does your anger extend to the adults and children from other countries being held in remote island detention camps by Australia, or does empathy shut down at the edges of ‘Kiwi-ism’?

        • sabine 4.2.1.1

          yes.

        • Psycho Milt 4.2.1.2

          Depends how you define anger. The fact that Australian governments of whatever stripe treat refugees appallingly is disgusting, but at a fairly abstract level, given that we aren’t Australians. The NZ government staying quiet while NZers get the same treatment is disgusting on a much more visceral level, if you’re a NZer yourself.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Yup – but it was the comment thread under the Guardian story which is interesting.

      Many of the comments were more sympathetic to NZ than we are to ourselves.

  5. Bea Brown 7

    What is Kelvin Davis trying to achieve?
    How will it help Labour?
    Who is footing the bill?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      He can be reached through Labour’s website – why don’t you ask him?

      I’m glad he’s there, if only to demonstrate that not all New Zealanders have National Party values.

    • Tracey 7.2

      You’re right, it would be more appropriate for the PM to go, but he has ruled it out. probably needs plausible deniability of the treatment of NZ citizens which he would lose if he visited.

    • mpledger 7.3

      To shine a light on the shabby treatment that NZers are getting at the hands of the Australians – IIRC the Australians aren’t allowed to report on conditions at these detention camps by law.

      Who knows how it will help Labour. It will help people – isn’t that the point of politics.

      The same people who foot the bill of all MPs travel that is work related. And I am happy to pay for it – forcing people into camps who have already served their time for crimes they have committed is unjust. They should be at large in the community where they can be of benefit to their family until all proceedings have ended.

    • RedLogix 7.4

      Kelvin is doing what successive NZ govts have totally failed to do – promoting and protecting the rights of New Zealanders who are living and working in Australia as they are entitled to do under the CER arrangements.

      Successive NZ and Australian govts have found it convenient to erase these people from their calculations because they have been marginalised from the political process. Very often though, the right thing to do is not necessarily in ones own best interests. Sometimes doing the right thing takes a conscience and some guts.

    • Grindlebottom 7.5

      I think it’s a bit of a stunt to be honest but it’s a worthwhile one if it focuses attention on these detention centres that seem to be dreadful places bloody dreadful places.

  6. Grindlebottom 8

    I’m unhappy about the [reported] automatic cancellation of special category visas and deportation of kiwis who’ve served (or been sentenced to) jail sentences of a year or more if they’ve lived there for longer than 10 years. Because we don’t deport aussie citizens in the same circumstances after 10 years.

    I’m also opposed to keeping kiwis (and others) in detention centres pending resolution of their appeals against deportation.

    If they’ve spent less than 10 years in either country and they’ve committed serious or repeated offences, I’m ok with their being booted back to their country of citizenship, subject to appeal on humanitarian grounds.

    I’m also not happy about the Aussies holding asylum seekers in detention on Manus and Nauru where “…both centres have been plagued by allegations of assault, rape and poor health care. Detainees suffer psychologically from the ongoing and endless uncertainty about their future.” I’d maybe be less aggravated by it if their detention centres were in Australia, more humanely run, their cases were speedily decided, and if they were granted asylum in Australia if their cases were approved. We haven’t had to face the same problem the Aussies did with ever-increasing boatloads of people-smuggled asylum seekers so I don’t feel so strongly about detaining such people while their identities and circumstances are checked out.

    • Bill 8.1

      Well, that’s a bit of a genuine relief.

      Thank fuck that at least someone is willing to explicitly join the dots and view matters in a wider context and under the auspices of ‘people’ rather than putting blinkers on to exclude anything ‘peripheral’ to Kiwis and what’s happening to them. – thankyou –

      By the way, your link is busted. I’ve fixed it, but am also indulging a piece of shameless re-cycling with this one.

      • Grindlebottom 8.1.1

        Thanks for fixing the link. Have had continual probs trying to do short links. Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

      • weka 8.1.2

        Thank fuck that at least someone is willing to explicitly join the dots and view matters in a wider context and under the auspices of ‘people’ rather than putting blinkers on to exclude anything ‘peripheral’ to Kiwis and what’s happening to them. – thankyou –

        I’m not sure about the blinkers bit/peripheral bit. I think putting people in detention for immigration issues is wrong full stop, wherever they are and wherever they’ve come from. I also understand why some NZers will be more shocked by the treatment of the NZers in question than other immigrants. This is because NZ and Australia have traditionally had a close enough relationship that means that this kind of thing would not be expected. Many NZers also have family or close friends that live there.

        It’s not about excluding anything or making it peripheral, it’s about the natural human characteristic of feeling more for the people you are close to. That’s a different thing than one’s politics, and the challenge there is for people to prioritise their politics according to justice not personal feeling alone.

        • Grindlebottom 8.1.2.1

          Sometimes there could be issues warranting detention. If someone being deported or told to leave voluntarily for good cause absconds, for example, and is subsequently located. Or if someone enters the country as an asylum seeker or on a legitimate visa with a false identity & subsequently turns out to be a serious criminal, security risk, or terrorist.

          Was just reading this review of New Zealand’s approach to detaining asylum seekers. While it expresses concerns about a recent amendment to the Immigration Act 2009 allowing detention of any “mass arrival” asylum seekers, on the whole NZ doesn’t detain many asylum seekers in secure facilities (the only secure facilities we have are police stations or prisons). NZ releases most into the community with conditions, as soon as possible, or uses “open detention” in non-secure facilities like the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre while their refugee or protected person status claims are determined.
          http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/asia-pacific/new-zealand/introduction.html

          • weka 8.1.2.1.1

            I take your point. I suppose the issue is about how humane systems are, and lessening the need for indefinite detention unless absolutely necessary (eg for people arriving here illegally who have histories of violent crimes).

            For people that have been living here for a long time, I think there are better solutions than detention centres.

            Thanks for the overview of the NZ situation, that’s helpful.

  7. infused 9

    In this case, I think NZ should match their actions.

  8. Grindlebottom 10

    Here’s John Key’s latest thoughts – kiwis in detention centres appealing against their deportation should just come home, tomorrow while their appeals are determined.

    Don’t think he’d have too many takers. I suspect many will be suspicious about their chances of being allowed back in to Oz once they’ve left the lucky country.

  9. RedLogix 11

    The point Key is missing totally is that NZ is no longer ‘home’ for many of these people.

    Gordon Campbell makes the extraordinary point that the change in the deportation rules was passed through the Australian Federal Parliament with the justification that it was to be used to target ISIS extremists and potential terrorists.

    The justification for this brutal treatment? Incredibly, these New Zealanders and their children are being lumped together with Islamic State as a threat to Australian society. (So much for being Anzac brothers.) In Australia, the immigration crackdown was supposed to enable would-be jihadis (and their funders and recruitment agents) who held dual citizenship to be deported from Australia. It would be entirely possible for the Australians to distinguish between terrorists and their accomplices on one hand, and New Zealanders resident in Australia with their families on the other. To date, the Aussies have shown no interest in doing so.

    http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2015/10/13/gordon-campbell-on-our-inability-to-stand-up-to-australia/

    Key has been humiliated – he talks up the ANZAC family thing – and gets pissed on.

    • Grindlebottom 11.1

      Key has been humiliated – he talks up the ANZAC family thing – and gets pissed on.

      He not only gets pissed on, he turns round and shakes it off on us.

      Good on Gordon Campbell for that bit of background.

      • RedLogix 11.1.1

        This whole issue shows up the awful flaws of the entire SCV444 scheme. The entire thing is a misbegotten crock with a contradiction at it’s heart.

        The SCV444 which is the visa which allows New Zealanders to live in Australia on indefinitely is described as a ‘temporary visa’.

        It shows up when you go to apply for the Medicare card (which you absolutely need to access any health providers at all) – you are asked to sign a “Statutory Declaration” that you intend to stay in Australia ‘permanently’. Which given that the visa which allows you to be here is described as ‘temporary’ – doesn’t make a lot of sense.

        What it boils down to is that the Australian govt treats you as permanent for tax purposes – and temporary for pretty much all others.

        And it’s how we finish up with people who are effectively Australians – having lived there all their lives – but can be ejected from the country on a bureaucratic whim.

        One of the core elements of the original CER agreement back in 1966 was the ‘free movement of people’ between the countries. Clearly time and circumstance have moved on – and the current rules are a distortion of how most Australians and New Zealanders regard the relationship.

        New Zealand is an economy at least as large as the state of Victoria – and we are a major economic partner of Australia. Despite what many people think we do matter to Australia in many ways – but we have allowed ourselves to be politically neutered – we have no political leverage in Canberra. There is the root of the problem.

  10. savenz 12

    +1 to send Davis by Labour. Good move for justice and highlighting the problem.

    Nice to see some action.

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