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The Quiet War on Asylum

The Quiet War on Asylum


‘To the outside world looking in—indeed, to most countries that deal with tens of thousands of refugees annually—it may have seemed outright puzzling. When John Key stepped up to the lectern of his press conference and announced he was introducing mandatory group detention for ‘mass’ boat-arriving asylum seekers to Kiwi shores, there was one confounding detail missing. New Zealand has never had a boatload of asylum seekers in modern history. None.’

Why would a country that has never had a boatload of asylum arrivals suddenly legislate for mass detention? Geographically isolated and previously a world leader in fair treatment of refugees, New Zealand has abruptly changed tack.

Treading across the refugee camps of Burma and Thailand, to Australia’s detention centres and back to New Zealand, columnist Tracey Barnett looks hard at this controversial new policy. She speaks to asylum seekers, refugees, NGO workers and migrants – people on the move and on the ground. Their lives and stories reveal a reality far more complex than the political rhetoric, and one that questions just how fair and ethical New Zealand really is on the world stage today.


Author Information

Tracey Barnett has been a contributing columnist for The New Zealand Herald, The Sunday Star Times, The Christchurch Press and The Listener, among others. She is an occasional television and radio commentator for TV3’s Campbell Live, Three60, Radio Live and formerly Media 3. Her commentary work has been published in ten countries.

Tracey has also written and spoken against instituting mandatory detention of asylum seekers in New Zealand and created the campaign, “We Are Better Than That”. She is an advocate for pursuing an independent policy course on refugee issues from our Australian neighbours.

ends

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