New Zealand’s offer to accept some of Nauru’s refugees

Written By: - Date published: 12:42 pm, August 23rd, 2018 - 32 comments
Categories: australian politics, helen clark, International, jacinda ardern, labour - Tags:

Back in 2001 I can vividly recall being at a public meeting that the Titirangi Labour Party organised.  Helen Clark was our speaker and was going to talk about international events.

At the time there was an Australian election occurring.  During the campaign period Liberal PM John Howard and some of his Ministers claimed that some Afghani refugees on the Tampa boat were threatening to throw their kids overboard to put pressure on the Australian Government to accept their refugee claims.

There was a problem with the claim.  It was horseshit.

But it created a groundswell of support for the Liberal Party and Howard was returned to power.  Weaponised cruelty to foreigners has been a well used technique by Australian conservatives ever since.

Helen Clark responded by agreeing to take 131 as refugees and announced the decision at the meeting that I was at.  The feeling of happiness and pride that the announcement created I can recall vividly.  It was great that the New Zealand Government was going to treat fellow human beings who were in difficulty in an entirely different way to the way adopted by the Australian Government.

History then shows that some of the Tampa refugees were brought to New Zealand, integrated, and have made New Zealand their home.  Many years later they are now part of New Zealand society and productive contributors to the common good as well as our diversity.

We now have a similar situation although this involves more brutal and longer standing problems.

Until recent events the current Minister of Immigration and wannabe Prime Minister responsible for this crisis is Peter Dutton.

He was first elected in 2002 during the Baby overboard election.  It clearly prepared him for his stellar parliamentary career which would involve him terrorising Kiwis, especially the dark skinned ones, and taking urgent court action to stop seriously ill refugee kids from receiving medical treatment.

With a deep sense of pride I see our Government is continuing with its advocacy for the detainees.  The offer has been made to take 150 refugees and this offer remains open.  And Jacinda Ardern is hinting she may meet with at least one of them at the forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum.  From Radio New Zealand:

An Iranian man detained on Nauru wrote to Jacinda Ardern earlier this month asking if he could meet with her when she visits Nauru.

He was told by her office that would not be possible as she will be focussed on the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting.

But with mounting calls for New Zealand to take the children from the detention centres and a change in tune in Australian politics – there seems to be more equivocal language from Ms Ardern.

“I’m currently still working though my programme when I’m on Nauru, I will have a very short time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will have a slightly longer time, but we are just finalising the details of what my programme there will look like.”

If Dutton becomes Australian PM expect the normally close New Zealand Australia relationship to become strained.  This passage from a recent Stuff article will set out why:

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman says Peter Dutton’s move to Australia’s back bench could present an opportunity for the refugees detained in the Pacific.

Dutton resigned as immigration minister following a failed leadership coup against Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.

The hardline politician was responsible for policing Australia’s borders and enforcing the country’s ‘turn back the boats’ policy, which saw asylum seekers sent to offshore processing centres on the tiny Pacific Island of Nauru, and Papua New Guinea’s Nauru.

He was also scathing of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s repeated offer to resettle up to 150 refugees from Nauru and/or Manus, 119 of which are children.

Dutton said New Zealand benefited from Australia’s policies and geographical position, and offers of resettlement would be used as marketing material by people smugglers.

Australia has repeatedly turned down the offer, to prioritise a deal with the United States. But more than five years on from the initiation of the policy, refugees remain in harsh conditions, and US resettlement is not an option for many due to President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The suggestion that Trump’s administration will accept the refugees and this is why Australia is not accepting New Zealand’s offer is laughable.  And it is consigning the Nauru refugees to continue to live in extreme hardship.

I hope Jacinda sticks to her position.  And I really hope that she finds time to meet with some of the refugees.  To remind them that not all western leaders are inhumane.

32 comments on “New Zealand’s offer to accept some of Nauru’s refugees”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    If Dutton becomes Australian PM expect the normally close New Zealand Australia relationship to become strained.

    I can’t say that I’ve ever considered the Australia/NZ relationship to be close and the actions of Australia towards NZ over the decades has belied that assertion.

  2. Michelle 2

    He (Dutton) looks mean and nasty I hope he doesn’t win we have enough problems without having someone like him wielding power in Auz

    • RedLogix 2.1

      You’re right. Dutton is only tolerated because he’s kept a lid on the vexed problem of illegal immigration. But there is close to zero chance Dutton will be PM. He’s been used as a Trojan Horse by the mad monk’s team to destabilise Turnbull, but once his usefulness has expired I doubt we’ll ever hear much about him. I could be wrong, but all is speculation at the moment, you never know quite what tricks this magic show could have up its sleeve right now.

      Far more likely someone like Scott Morrison or even Julie Bishop will have to step up as compromise candidates.

    • Tricledrown 2.2

      Dutton is dangerous he claims New Zealand is free loading off Australia.
      But in reality we are paying way more than our fair share all the Australian owned businesses in NZ don’t pay any tax in NZ.
      It goes to the Australian govt the big four Banks/thieves take $5 billion in profit across the ditch so that alone looses NZ $1.5billion every year with all the other Company profits probably $5 to $6billion lost to Australia what do we get for that.

  3. joe90 3

    Australia; while Dutton is having another crack at PM, a 12 year old on Nauru is fighting for her life after attempting to set herself alight.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/23/nauru-self-harm-contagion-as-12-year-old-refugee-tries-to-set-herself-alight

  4. Ad 4

    Yes that was great meeting to be at Mickey.

    However, Prime Minister Ardern should simply to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota rather than deliberately pissing off the Australian government pushing that Nauru offer in its face, particularly when we’re already at our lowest diplomatic point since Geoff Chappell bowled under arm to our cricket team in 1981.

    This is egregious posing on Ardern’s part.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      What would be wise is to realise that Australians are below our level of goodwill to all men, which isn’t perfect anyway. After that we look for people who are taking in a quota of refugees and see if they will take in the Manus Island ones, and we will take in the quota that they would have accepted. They would understand that these were Muslims and not find that frightened the pants off them.

      That would get the present Manus Island people a chance at life and give this part of the western world a little lower position in a measure of countries in a list of the world’s bastards.

      • Ad 4.1.1

        Until the National government increased it to 1,000 in 2016, New Zealand had been taking in 750 refugees per year for the last 30 years.

        Ardern should just shut up until she has a moral leg to stand on.

    • Blazer 4.2

      Agree .
      Why create tension where none needs to exist

      Domestic matters should take priority..

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    I hope the government manage the conflict astutely – Dutton’s party is on the ropes at home. An external enemy is just what he needs. More in sorrow than in anger might do the trick.

  6. RedLogix 6

    Mickey. I’m genuinely conflicted on this issue. Absolutely and without quibble the refugees in various detention camps like Nauru are in a terrible position and NZ’s offer to accept them is both necessary and decent.

    At the same time NZ cannot afford to look smug on this. It’s only geographic good fortune that we are not in the same position as Australia. And we delude ourselves if we imagine for one instant that we might have handled the same crisis any better.

    After much thought and listening to other Australians talking about it; my position is this. Every nation has both a mandate and duty of care to it’s citizens to manage it’s borders. Totally closed or totally open borders are not options, therefore some settings in between must be determined and imposed. And each nation has the right to determine what those settings are.

    Furthermore illegal immigration is a crime and invalidates all other immigrants who have gone through a legitimate process. In this view the current Liberal govt must be credited with stopping the evil people smuggling trade.

    But nothing so far looks anything like a long-term solution. With a certainty the people smugglers are only biding their time for more favourable political winds. Recognising that illegal immigration is often an act of desperation only a new approach which addresses the motivation to flee one’s homeland will ever be an effective and humane solution.

    And this in turn can only be effectively addressed in a global political space; ideally the UN or at least initially by a regional player such as APEC.

    • Exkiwiforces 6.1

      I fully agree with your view RedLogix, on this as it’s the same with me unfortunately especially with some of the talks I’ve had with Navy and Airforce personal that have been use as broading parties and bits of information that I’ve picked up along my travels.

    • greywarshark 6.2

      Ph come off it Red Logix. We need to get on and do things not quibble about how cold the water is as we dip our toes. Deal with the present and say this is not a precedent and we understand your position. Isn’t that what we are trying to do
      anyway. It seems that you are trying to be a Colossus of Rhodes across the
      ditch and splitting in two. Perhaps best if you just thing Oz and let us get on with our petty problems.

      • RedLogix 6.2.1

        OK so I was too anodyne for you. I’ll re-cast it like this.

        Adern’s offer is the right thing to do, but it could easily come with some much bigger wrong consequences. Especially if we play the arrogant ‘we’re better than the bigot Aussies’ card.

        • Sabine 6.2.1.1

          so what should then be done?

          • RedLogix 6.2.1.1.1

            We should confirm the offer and make it clear that NZ would have no objection to these refugees being subsequently refused visas if they tried to enter Australia from NZ. That would cover off one objection.

            Also the intake should be clearly flagged one off deal to be included within our normal refugee quota, in order to signal this is not any kind of open door for the people smugglers, which addresses the main concern.

            Better still get Winston to horse-trade for an improved citizenship path for kiwis permanently domiciled in Australia. That kind of deal making they understand. Frame it as as a strictly pragmatic offer as a gesture towards improving trans-Tasman political relations and leave out any traces of moral superiority. Totally doable.

  7. “I hope Jacinda sticks to her position. And I really hope that she finds time to meet with some of the refugees. To remind them that not all western leaders are inhumane.”

    Yep sums it up for me.

  8. indiana 8

    Australia has also worked with other countries to take some of these people, but they themselves have refused the country they were offered. This includes the USA. These people are intent on entering Australia only.

    Dutton’s position is that due to the relationship between NZ and Aus, is that if they are grated NZ citizenship, then it is very likely that they will enter Australia – something that the Australian’s do not want, as mentioned by an earlier comment that it makes a mockery of the process where people are legally immigrating to Australia.

    So, does New Zealand want to consider a different citizenship category for refugees, so that they cannot enter Australia after obtaining NZ citizenship? I didn’t think so.

  9. Cinny 9

    Screw Aussie, go straight to the Nauru Government and ask them.

    If refugees then want to go on to Aussie, which I highly doubt after how they’ve been treated by the Aussies, their government can deal with it then.

    • Ad 9.1

      Nauru are already really clear that they are fine with the arrangement they have with Australia.

      Jailing Australias rejects is the primary industry of Nauru, and Australia pays them sufficiently for it.

      • Cinny 9.1.1

        Was thinking about that Ad, wondering how much employment etc an aussie ‘prison camp’ brings to Nauru. Usually it comes down two things, money and power.

      • greywarshark 9.1.2

        From what I have heard Nauruans are not fine with it. But they have pressure on them to keep the prisoners.

    • RedLogix 9.2

      That’s a reasonable question Cinny. It’s not at all clear if these people will even come to NZ.

      As for them subsequently trying to enter Australia, there is no need to invoke any different NZ citizenship category for refugees. All that would likely happen is that if they attempted to enter Australia the appropriate visa (SC444) would not be administratively issued at the airport and they’d be on the next flight back to NZ.

    • Sanctuary 9.3

      Send a frigate to Nauru and just take them, especially the children. What would Nauru be able to do? How big is their Navy?

      The Aussies would be apoplectic at being bearded in a client state, until it dawns on them we’ve done them a huge favour by removing a massive PR headache for them and saved them gazillions in costs.

      • Timeforacupoftea 9.3.1

        I liked the last comment from Ad:
        ( Ardern should just shut up until she has a moral leg to stand on).
        Ad 4.1.1
        23 August 2018 at 6:00 pm
        Until the National government increased it to 1,000 in 2016, New Zealand had been taking in 750 refugees per year for the last 30 years.

        Ardern should just shut up until she has a moral leg to stand on.

  10. Makes you wonder how much Helen Clark is whispering in Jacinda’s ear, hey it worked for me, put on the look at me I am a kind compassionate person who also favours those that can hire a boat rather than join the legitimate queue.

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