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Just As Predicted: Key's Refugee Deal

Just As Predicted: Key's Refugee Deal

The ramshackle fishing boat carrying 66 asylum seekers which has just beached off the far western coast of Australia with a sign saying the goal was New Zealand is just precisely what the Refugee Council of New Zealand predicted.

When the Prime Minister announced the “Queenstown deal” with Julia Gillard in February RCNZ stated that it would it would have the effect of dragging New Zealand into becoming part of Australia’s problem and this is now just exactly what is happening.

It was an ill-considered and flawed deal for our Government to take 150 asylum seekers from the Australian detention camps and displace 150 UN quota refuges. There has been no gain or benefit whatsoever to New Zealand, and it has simply served just as predicted to reinforce the people-smuggling trade in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Gillard deal has also had the unintended detrimental effect to call attention to New Zealand as a possible destination for people-smugglers. It places desperate asylum claimants at ever greater risk of making an attempt to make a crossing over the treacherous Tasman.

By politicising refugee issues, undermining the UN Refugee Convention, and placing thousands of desperate asylum seekers in long term detention camps, the Australian government has created a terrible mess of its own making. For New Zealand to get sucked into that would be a serious political and policy mistake.

There was absolutely no benefit to New Zealand to prop up the failed policies of the Gillard government and get tacitly lured into actually becoming part of their problem.

The Refugee Council of New Zealand calls upon our politicians to uphold the UN Convention, to uphold the humanitarian standards that New Zealand had been internationally known for and to stop accepting any further transfers from the Australian detention camps.

It is difficult to understand where the government has been taking its advice from. Deals for short term political gain such as this have long term consequences which the dealer-makers often fail to comprehend.

Our politicians should be taking a completely different approach and have New Zealand become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

The solution to ending people-smuggling and saving lives is not in putting desperate boat people in prison camps or using hapless refugees for political gain. Human beings are not meant for political deals or trading like stocks or shares.

The solution is to be found through New Zealand leading by example and through working in a concerted effort to persuade Malaysia and Indonesia to sign on to the UN Refugee Convention.

This is actually a realistic and doable goal if approached in the right way in cooperation and collaboration with the United Nations.


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