While I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting gunboat diplomacy as a first resort, we have to do something about the situation on Manus Island. Australia has illegally kept these refugees in Papua New Guinea to avoid processing them, the local government is trying to compromise between sucking up to Australia and their own citizens being aggressively opposed to the refugees’ presence. The detainees fear the proposed new solution of resettlement into open communities in PNG will leave them vulnerable to theft or violence from the locals, (not without evidence) so under the circumstances it’s no surprise that they’re refusing to leave the detention centre even though Australia is threatening to starve them out.
If you haven’t been following this situation, Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn has been dutifully cataloguing the events.
We should make a better offer to take them as refugees and consider whether there’s a solution where we assure Malcolm Turnball that these people have no further intention to move to Australia. Contrary to his prior comments, the only “marketing opportunity” here is for New Zealand to once again show refugees in the region that if they want to come to a Pacific democracy, we’re the one to pick, and they shouldn’t even bother considering Australia.
Honestly, it also takes a fair amount of… shall we say boldness, to claim that a group of people who have been denied their human rights and potentially tortured under Australian custody would use the opportunity of New Zealand citizenship as a backdoor into Australia. Why would they want to go back to a country that imprisoned them for daring to be refugees? Australia has already proven it’s the wrong destination for refugees travelling by boat.
This situation will be the first real test of Ardern’s claim that she can stand up to Australia and get better outcomes than the National government did, and is a good way to show the rest of the world that despite her coalition with New Zealand First, Ardern doesn’t intend to be “like Trump on immigration.” These people are in crisis and need urgent help, and all John Key and Bill English would do is keep our long-standing offer to Australia “on the table,” a polite way of saying they couldn’t think of anything better to do than to keep being told no by Australia. Ardern should try taking the offer to Papua New Guinea, or seeing what she can do to address Australia’s concerns, and maybe she should even consider what her options are with the UN or resorting to gunboat diplomacy if everything else does fail, but the one thing she can’t do is nothing.
If you’d like to stress the importance of this to the Minister of Immigration and the Prime Minister, there is a petition up at Action Station.