Naive virtue-signalling

Australian columnist Miranda Devine says Jacinda Ardern should stop meddling:

NEW Zealand’s new Labour PM Jacinda Ardern has a hide.

Her repeated offers to take some of the asylum seekers now causing trouble on Manus Island is just naive virtue-signalling.

Ardern should know that her meddling runs the risk of putting what Indonesia calls the “sugar” back on the table for people smugglers.

The last time a Labor leader did that in Australia, 1200 people drowned at sea, and we are still dealing with the backlog of 50,000 unauthorised arrivals. The problems on Manus Island are the legacy of Kevin Rudd’s virtue signalling. We don’t need a Kiwi version of Rudd.

Australia’s policy of stopping people smugglers before they reach the ocuntry is tough but it has stopped the boats and the loss of many lives.

Ardern is sending a message to the people smugglers that Australia’s borders could have a back door via NZ.

She is giving them a product to sell to gullible economic refugees who risk their life only to end up in detention centres.

Surely, as a new PM she has enough on her plate in her own back yard. We love our Kiwi cousins but please mind your own business.

The continued needling of Australia by offering to take a relative few of the Manus Island assylum seekers might appeal to some of her supporters, but will do nothing for genuine refugees.

It’s also cheap grandstanding when, as Bernard Lagan writes, Australia is lapping us on refugees:

. . .Australia can’t accept New Zealand’s offer without breaking its core vow: that no asylum seeker coming on a people-smuggler’s boat will be allowed in. With New Zealand citizenship, they would be free to enter Australia. The Australian Labor Party has the same policy.

By continuing to hector Australia, Ardern has antagonised the Turnbull Government and demonstrated a shallow appreciation of the realities Australia faces in deterring people smugglers. The seaborne asylum-seeker traffic to Australia peaked in 2012 when more than 17,000 arrived. The number reached just under 5000 in one month. Nearly 2000 have drowned at sea trying to reach Australia in a dozen years. The flow – and drownings – stopped only when Australia began turning back boats and shipping to its offshore detention centres those who made it.

The Key and Bill English governments knew that some of the boats turned back by the Australian Navy had New Zealand as their ultimate destination.

Lest anyone consider Australia closed to the neediest, it is worth remembering that in the past year, the country accepted 22,000 refugees, most referred to it by the United Nations refugee agency. New Zealand? Its annual quota is a miserable 750, which might increase – Winston Peters permitting – to 1500 under the new Government. . . 

It’s easy to be sanctimonious when the risk of boats laden with desperate refugees are very unlikely to make our shores.

Australia is closer to the countries from which the desperate flee and it is already accepting many more refugees than we do.

If Ardern really wants to help more refugees, there are plenty New Zealand could take from other places without trivialising the very real problem Australia faces with people smugglers.

 

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