Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sri Lankan refugees 'bound for New Zealand! What can we do?

The news that a boat containing more than 50 Sri Lankan refuges has made it to Perth but the real destination could be NZ is disturbing for a number of reasons.
Firstly it cannot be too long before someone organizes a boat that is actually capable of crossing the treacherous Tasman Ocean. Such a 'ship' wold of course have to be much bigger than those so far seen plying the seas around Australia. If they actually get as far as NZ, what will our immigration and Government do? Will they pack them up and send them back forcibly to their nation of origin? That's where things get a bit confusing as many may well have left their native shores many years ago and have existed in various 'camps' around the world.
This is where New Zealand has traditionally supported those in 'genuine' refugee status.' We have taken large numbers of refugees at different key point in our history. Outside those times we have taken a 'quota' from refugee camps and other areas. New Zealand has a good reputation for these actions.
Australia is in a different geographical position in that it that much closer to the 'flow' of refugees. It is that much closer to South East Asia, which has become a 'stepping stone' for those wishing to attain Australian residence. This has led to a great deal of political carnage for Australian politicians as they grapple with this ever increasing problem; the arrival of countless numbers of genuine and economic refugees. Many of them have 'jumped the queue' and  ended up illegally on Australian shores, exacerbating the position of those waiting to get into Australia legally, by going through the correct channels. Each time a boat load of 'refugees' achieves their goal, the message must be filtering through to the camps, further raising the expectations of 'would-be be' boat people.
Was it not for the Tasman Ocean, New Zealand would be in exactly the same position. I feel for our Aussie cousins who haver yet to find a human solution to this difficult issue.
New Zealand must continue to support 'legal entry' through existing programmes, but we must also resist any attempt by refugees to reach our shores in mass. We are not set up to deal with this and I suspect the first large number of refugees is going to result in a great deal of confusion and anger from New Zealanders as a whole. We need to start this discussion about a response now, because the time is nearing when our TV screens will feature a large ship, slipping into Auckland's harbour.
Unfortunately our politicians have their heads in the sand on this issue, apart from the New Zealand First Party, but the noises enemating from that source do not always address the real issues. Making a 'big noise,' generally at election time is no more than 'pissing in the wind.'