Written By: - Date published: 12:17 pm, June 15th, 2015 - 30 comments
Categories: australian politics, im/migration, International, john key, Minister for International Embarrassment, Politics - Tags: , , ,

It only seems like yesterday that John Key was forced to admit a series of assaults on a young cafe worker. It is now possible that Key has broken the law again. It is a significant offence to conspire to smuggle migrants into New Zealand or another country. The penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years, a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both. Is this what the Prime Minister and/or NZ Government officials have done?

What we know so far is that Australia has just turned away a boat full of asylum seekers from various Asian countries and it is alleged that the ship’s crew were paid US $5000 each to take the victims instead to Indonesia. Aussie PM Tony Abbott is refusing to confirm the payments, but is looking painfully weak on the matter. If it’s confirmed that the money changed hands, this breaches domestic Australian law and international treaties about people smuggling. Normally this would just be an embarrassment for the increasingly beleaguered Liberal leader, but John Key has unintentionally caught himself up in the scandal.

Key has mugged himself by big noting about the slim possibility that the boat in question might have made it to NZ. The PM has been talking for a fortnight about that boat, the ‘danger’ it presented to NZ’s borders and the cooperation of our Government officials with Australia to make sure it did not reach either country. To put it simply, if Key was made aware that the Australian Government intended to or actually made payment to the crew of the boat to convince them to smuggle the asylum seekers into Indonesia instead, then that may be a crime here in New Zealand.

The Crimes Act does not require that would be migrants actually set foot in New Zealand. Even the attempt is a crime. But, importantly, the Act also criminalises smuggling people into other countries, which is what appears to be the case here. Indonesia is justifiably upset at being used as a dumping ground.

Professor of International Law at the Australian National University Don Rothwell has said that under regional protocols such activity could be equate to people smuggling.

“People smuggling is defined with the protocol and to that end the provision of monies to people who are engaged in people smuggling activities to take persons from a place on the high seas to another place, such as Indonesia, is clearly a people smuggling-type activity,” he said.

“If a state such as Australia is making that payment that would be seen as tantamount to people smuggling.”

If you and I conspired to smuggle a boatload of people into Indonesia, we’d probably be in the dock pretty bloody pronto. However, there is an out. Prosecution of people smugglers in NZ can only proceed with the agreement of the Attorney General, Chris Finlayson. A man appointed to that position by, um, Prime Minister John Key.

So, maybe it’s unlikely that Key is going to face justice over this matter, but it does make it more understandable that he was reduced to meaningless gibberish when interviewed on the matter this morning.  Key is scared. And with good reason. Bizarrely, he reckons he can see the reason for paying off the snakeheads. But … “If you start paying them yourselves you’re in a position that you’re paying people we don’t have a high regard for”.

But, no worries, people! According to the PM, the whole thing is a “hypothetical” .

This matter needs to be investigated thoroughly. Payment to criminals is not just possibly illegal, it’s a particularly stupid idea because it’s an encouragement to further smuggling attempts. We don’t know what Key has done or whether it really equates to criminal behaviour, but we should be told.

In Australia, Labor and the Greens have called for an immediate enquiry. Our equivalent parties here should do the same.

Key should be asked to explain himself – what he knew, when he knew it and what he agreed to – in the media and in Parliament. People smuggling is a vicious, exploitative crime. Paying off snakeheads to commit their crimes in other countries is equally vile.

30 comments on “Snakeheads”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    When he says “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that”, he means he was briefed over the phone.

    When he says “I haven’t heard anything to suggest that”, he means he got the email.

    And of course there’s always the question of the meaning of the word “I” at any given moment.

    • Kiwiri 1.1

      If he starts learning Braille asap, he will have another way out by saying he hasn’t seen nor heard anything to suggest blah blah balh.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        Ka-ching! There’s a space for you two doors down from his office.

    • BLiP 1.2

      When he says “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that”, he means he was briefed over the phone.

      When he says “I haven’t heard anything to suggest that”, he means he got the email.

      And of course there’s always the question of the meaning of the word “I” at any given moment.

      ^^^ QFT

      What we see happening now was carefully explained to National Ltd™ way back in 2013 when John Key’s pernicious Immigration Amendment Bill was debated. He was, at that time, caught in one of his most blatant lies . . .

      New Zealand has an arrangement to have asylum seekers processed in Australian detention camps

      . . . and still the lies go on.

  2. Brillo 2

    This is a wondrous new business model for enterprising boat-owners or boat-leasers from any country near Australia.

    Sell “cruise” or “excursion” tickets to a boatload of locals, provide a picnic lunch, sail to Australia, pocket the Abbott payoff, sail back.
    Repeat ad lib.

    We’re a country near Australia. What do you reckon?

  3. Tracey 3

    Given that the boat was allegedly heading to NZ, why would the Aussies have bothered with them at all, and not simply sent them on their merry way to our shores?

    Why not bring in death sentence for people smugglers, then the Aussies could board the boats, capture the smugglers and exchange them for their drug dealers

    • RJL 3.1

      @ “Given that the boat was allegedly heading to NZ, why would the Aussies have bothered with them at all…

      Boats (from this area, anyway) heading to NZ have to pass by Australia. Regardless of the humanity (or not) of the Australian responses, they would have to deal with many of the consequences of people smuggling into NZ (boats wrecked on route, etc). It also wouldn’t be clear that a boat was actually travelling to NZ and not planning on diverting and stopping in Australia.

      And it is probably safer for everyone to engage with the smuggling boats when they are in the Timor Sea / Arafura Sea or wherever it is that they are, instead of waiting until they are in the Tasman Sea / Pacific Ocean.

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        but it was clear RJL, John Key said the boat was heading to NZ that is why NZ officials were in contact with Aussie over it’s route… he / they must have known something t make this boat of people different to all the previous.

        • RJL


          A week elapsed between the boat being intercepted and turned around by the Australian Navy and then subsequently becoming stranded near Rote Island (John Key was talking about it after that). So, the knowledge of the boat’s claimed, intended destination may simply come from what the people on the boat told the Australian Navy when it was initially intercepted.

          Alternatively, our (Oz and / or NZ) intelligence agencies might have intercepted communications including cellphone transmissions from the boat that indicated its location. Presumably, all radio transmissions from all boats are intercepted.

  4. T Chris 4

    Why would he know?

  5. Bill 5

    The NZ and Oz states should be sending luxury liners to pick up these poor bastards from their points of departure, not fucking them around while on the open sea in rickety craft.

    • Tracey 5.1

      Key spoke about the vulnerability of the people etc… for a moment I thought of the poor of NZ and hoped Guyon would call him on it…

  6. Paul Campbell 6

    This event was different for two reasons, the Aussies paid off the people smugglers, they claimed they were going to NZ.

    What no one seems to be asking is “did Key’s govt pay of the people smugglers? (through the Aussie govt)”

    • Molly 6.1

      The other vastly more suspicious question – did the Key government need another diversion and so collude with the Abbott government to have the paid off smugglers indicate their destination was NZ? (Bonus payments allocated for getting the spelling of our country right)

      • miravox 6.1.1

        I’ve been wondering about the diversion too. Did the Prime Minister make up a threat to NZ to cover for some other idiocy that was going on with the government at the time?

        That explanation, bad as it is, is way less disturbing than the gaps in the story that people smugglers may have been paid off.

  7. Sabine 7

    I am at the point, where all i can say is: One can’t make this shit up.

    and just for once, Please dear National voter, please, enlighten me as to why (other then taxes) did you vote for National. What did you expect and was it delivered?

    Shameful is the word that comes to mind. Just simply shameful.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Yes, but think of the profits available. Now, if you take fifty tonnes of people, at say, $1k per tonne, that’s a lot of moolah, sure, but think how much it costs to send them to Australian death camps.

      Perhaps Paula Rebstock can work something out.

  8. hoom 8

    Its worth noting that the trip from West Timor where they landed to NZ is 6,000km past a whole heap of other countries.

    Its a reverse Bligh but where the 2nd half is going into open cold sea.

    • And while all this horror is going on Key and his Right-Wing mates go home to their mansions and their classsy food . Key’s mother a Yidish refugee must be turning in her grave. He (Key) insults the proud record of Yidish peoples history on human rights. However what do we expect from Tories where -ever they come from.
      Uk ,Ausie and New Zealand Tories are all showing their true colours.
      But the poor sods in those rust buckets are still in hell. What can we do I’m ashamed at the ghastly remarks and actions of outr own people in Aotearoa.
      Our proud record of decency is also being abused under this far Right government.
      The way Key and his mates are reacting to this crisis is bordering on Fascism .

  9. What a pile of shit this is – if proven then they have just created another way to make more money from this evil. If proven then there is no moral distance between these people smugglers and the governments who pay them. I am beyond disgusted or disgusted beyond belief that this shit could happen – meanwhile more people in these boats suffer and are exploited. And to those who want fortress oz or nz – this is your future or the future you are complicit in creating. I doubt key is concerned – he admires money making.

    • Clemgeopin 9.1

      Besides, at the end of the day, Key will go off to Hawaii, USA, leaving us, the poor suckers and our future generation to deal with the crap perpetrated by his goofy government. Mark my words, marty mars.

  10. emergency mike 10

    So the more desperate people you can con into giving you money for your boat ride, the more money you can expect to be paid from the Oz govt to turn around at some point.

    Has the ring of a typical Tony Abbott solution to me.

    • Clemgeopin 10.1

      The RW capitalist governments that primarily work for the wealthy think that money solves everything. It doesn’t. In the end, It is the love of money and excessive greed that is actually the root of all evil.

  11. Grantoc 11

    Perhaps you should engage that serial litigant McCready. He’d like nothing better. He could even try serving a summons on Abbott to force him to testify against Key.

    Maybe McCready might uncover ‘facts’ that Key instigated the whole thing, and that Abbott was simply a naive and willing accomplice helping out a ‘mate’.

    Or maybe you could get real and accept that the payment of people smugglers had nothing to do with Key.

    BTW it was interesting to learn today that the Australians have been paying people smugglers for at least 4 years, including during the time when their last Labour government was in office.

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