Thursday, June 28, 2012

Only the Tasman shields us from asylum seekers!

The treacherous Tasman Sea is the only barrier to NZ receiving hundreds if not thousands of so-called asylum seekers. Australia has a real problem in that it is closer to the source of these desperate (and possibly fraudulent) people. Most are feeling lives that we in New Zealand can barely imagine. They come from countries where Governments either don’t or can’t care for their people.
Australia is an obvious choice for them, but the journey is perilous to say the least. We have seen two boats capsize and many drownings. That people would attempt this journey, and take the terrible risks speaks for itself.
The unscrupulous ‘middle0men’ who take their money are criminals, not the captains and crews of the boats, because they too have to take the risks. Many of the ‘travellers’ pay all they have just to attempt the journey.
Politicians in Australia have argued long and hard over the issue, sometimes quite passionately, but they have failed to come up with a suitable solution. Of course it would not exist if the countries of origin were able to provide life opportunities for their people, but perhaps I am being a bit naïve in making that claim.
It is easy for me to sit in NZ and make judgments on other countries and the conditions in which the people live. We have always had refugees. In a sense the early settlers in New Zealand were a type of refugee. They were seeking a better life in 19th Century NZ. Some would say they were economic refuges, a title bestowed on some of the current flow from Asia and the Middle-East. The differences are only in the time rather than the cause.
NZ has taken a quota of refuges from the UN, much like Australia. These are called legal entrants and they represent a drop in the bucket of the immigrants arriving each year.
It can only be a matter of time, before someone organizes ships or boats that are capable of making the journey across the Tasman Sea, so we need to work with our Aussie friends to be part of any solution
That solution must include the nations of South East Asia. They can ill afford to host the burgeoning tide of ‘boat people.’ The UN has issues with stateless people all around the globe and with climatic changes in parts of Africa’s and elsewhere, the problem is only going to increase. Add the ‘menace and reality of war’ and the problems grow further. How long are we in NZ going to be ‘shielded from the realities of the world?