John Key and NZ’s refugee obligation

Over the last few days, we’ve heard a number of statements from the Prime Minister relating to the decision to take 150 refugees per year from Australian offshore detention centres and the proposal for New Zealand to process asylum seekers arriving here at those same centres.

John Key: “One, We don’t take more people, two I’m pretty ambivalent about where they come from.”

This comment suggests a complete ignorance of the reality of refugee camps and processing challenges. In 2009: “UN figures show that there are over 42 million ‘people of concern’ in the world, including more that 15 million refugees. The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) has the capacity to ‘recognise’ around 850,000, ‘refer’ around 120,000 and then ‘resettle’ around 70,000 – making a refugee’s chance of ever being resettled less than 1 in 214.” I’ve been told this has not improved much since these figures came out.

Taking 150 from within our existing quota (part of the UN’s 70,000) from the Australian detention centres rather than any other camp will do nothing to reduce the drivers that actually lead people to take the extreme risk of taking a boat to Australia.

The average waiting time for resettlement, in the official Indonesian camps, will still be over 70 years. Only 70 places are offered a year from those camps holding over 8000 people. I do hope we’re not reducing the number of refugees we take from official camps due to this deal because that may well increase the incentive for people to take to the sea.

John Key: “The best way to stop boats coming was to intercept them before they left their country of origin, We can’t do much when they are on the water.”

If John Key wants to intercept people before they leave their country of origin then he will need to resolve the reasons people become so desperate to escape their home lands of West Papua, Afghanistan, Burma  etc.  I would like to see this as part of our policy but I think it might be a pretty big job.

John Key: “The deal would also stop the situation where a boat turned up in Australia heading for this country and Australia shepherded it across the Tasman.”

Surely if the Australian government was planning to shepherd boats across to New Zealand – through treacherous waters – there would be an international incident. Look at these boats, look at a map, and consider the types of water and tell me this is actually a reality.

You might suggest they take a bigger boat, because actually they’d have to to make it with a large number of people. The problem with this is, the cost of the boat which will almost inevitably be confiscated on arrival would make the entire venture uneconomical. It did happen in Canada, as we’re repeatedly told, but this was funded by a wealthy ethnic population that just does not exist in New Zealand. Sadly most communities of people who arrived as refugees in this country are still living on very low incomes.

John Key: “I haven’t inspected the camps obviously but I accept the Prime Minister at her word. It is our expectation that the camps would be at the world standard we would expect from a developed economy like Australia.”

Well, here’s a couple of pictures of their camps. The first is from Nauru and the second from Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. That photo shows the family prefab with no doors and no windows in an area with high levels of mosquito borne illnesses. Australia is the only Western country to lock up refugees in detention camps.

A picture tells a thousand words.

8 thoughts on “John Key and NZ’s refugee obligation

  1. I see. The Greens aren’t really a NZ parliamentary party. They are an international aid organization who wish to use the power of the State to take money from Kiwis and give it to their favourite overseas charities.

    Not surprising really. After all Russel [sic] Norman, Kevin Hague, Mojo Mathers aren’t even Kiwis!

  2. If John Key wants to intercept people before they leave their country of origin then he will need to resolve the reasons people become so desperate to escape their home lands of West Papua, Afghanistan, Burma etc. I would like to see this as part of our policy but I think it might be a pretty big job

    Yes, which is why we need to be part of an international solution to this problem.

    Making it easier for illegal refugees to come here simply encourages more to try their luck. Each illegal refugee we admit means a legitimate refugee who does follow procedure misses out. We can’t take everyone who wants to come here.

    There is no easy or quick fix.

  3. Arana,
    I absolutely agree that we need to be part of an international solution – one that addresses conflict and human rights abuses and also streamlines processing and ensures enough places for refugees to be resettled within a reasonable length of time.

    There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker/refugee. People seek asylum we assess their application and then they either get refugee status and are entitled to settle or are refused and returned.
    It’s important to realise too that not everyone is able to reach a camp. For some people seeking asylum is their only hope. That’s why the refugee convention guarantees the right to seek asylum.

  4. “with high levels of mosquito borne illnesses”

    Bet you the supposed hellholes they’ve left behind using illegal means don’t have mosquito nets either. And if you look closely the bunks as pictured have fitted nets.

  5. That’s why the refugee convention guarantees the right to seek asylum.

    Indeedy, however, in practice, most countries to where someone seeking asylum would seek to enter make it impossible for such people to legally get there. You cannot board a plane to pretty much anywhere without the right documentation, as the airline will be fined big wonga for allowing such a thing to occur. Thus all aylum seekers are illegal entrants to the recipient country; only if their claim to asylum is accepted do they become not illegal entrants.

    When the capability of people being able to claim asylum was introduced, there were very few people claiming asylum. In the sixties an individual seeking asylum was a newsworthy event. The idea that people could be seeking asylum by the boatload was beyond imagination.

  6. I see. The Greens aren’t really a NZ parliamentary party. They are an international aid organization who wish to use the power of the State to take money from Kiwis and give it to their favourite overseas charities.

    And take the credit themselves…

  7. “The idea that people could be seeking asylum by the boatload was beyond imagination”

    Damned right! But the criminals in Indonesia and others en-route there have seen an opportunity to make bucket loads up front.

    Load the pre-paid hordes onto a leaky boat, barely clear the 12 mile limit and knock a hole in the bilge. Scream Mayday, the good old RAN cavalry has to respond in a timely fashion (it’s a global maritime thing) and thus will rescue them at zero cost.

    Anyway, the skippers will get a slap with a wet bus ticket, shipped home at zero cost, having being well paid to scuttle their rickety boats.

    Meanwhile the illegal hordes now do their bit, screaming asylum and Oz ships them off to NZ. Now via the hellhole of Nauru instead of the mainland camps. Also, the tossers like Key are talking of escorting illegals across the ditch. You’ve gotta be joking!

    And unfortunately, we await them them with open arms because of our soft-cock immigration policies. The illegals should be taken from the RAN ship straight to an airport with a one-way ticket home, never to return.

    Mr Key better have that return to sender policy in place and well proven when the first boatload of 500 plus illegals turns up screaming Mayday off our West Coast as the bilge plug is pulled. The results might not be pretty if they try it in a south westerly, but it will be sure to get greenies and other hand wringers fired up.

  8. More of this Key-partys ‘total hands off’ & ‘out of sight, out of mind’ agenda. More neo-liberalism : maximum profit & cut the costs as much as possible !

    Kia-ora

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