So, Australia has wimped out on a deal with New Zealand for the latter to take refugees from the Nauru Detention Centre.
Typical. Australia, overtaken by a primordial fear of foreigners seeking refuge from their turbulent pasts, has abjectly failed in its humanitarian responsibilities once again. And New Zealand, governed as it is by a Government terrified of standing up for international and national human rights because it might upset some of the interest groups aligned with it, appears reluctant to call Australia to account.
How embarrassing must it be as an Australian citizen to know your taxpayer dollars are funding a detention centre that is about as well run as inept prison. The buildings are a disgrace. The water often does not run. Jungle law rules the facility when conditions get really bad at a place that has already had one major riot. The private security company responsible for maintaining order ran away and left their charges to riot.
Do I condone the violence, especially the thuggery and the vandalism? Of course not, but when you have men and women who have only known violence all their lives, living in abject squalor and the only way to get the attention is to commit acts of violence despite knowing that the response will be harsh, it is inevitable. Especially on an equatorial island where the day time temperature is typically around 30°C through out the year with obvious dry and wet seasons.
As for New Zealand and its refusal? How embarrassing. New Zealand has failed to carry out the international responsibilities that it once used to take great pride in doing.
But at the same time, should I be surprised? No. This is after all an Australian Government that has done more in three years of being in power to usurp Australia’s reputation as one of the leading lights of the western world than perhaps any Australian Government in the three generations since World War 2. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has shown nothing but callous indifference to the well being of refugees and asylum seekers, preferring to view them as a national security threat rather than the humans in dire need of help they are since he took over from Scott Morrison.
As a New Zealander who would have happily have his country take these people who have fled hell in the simple pursuit of a deservingly better life, I can only say:
“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry for letting you down when you have come all this way at great risk to yourselves and your family. Sorry that in an hour when refugees need our help more than ever, we are wimping out. And particularly sorry for the fact that this might put your well being, especially if you need medical treatment or other assistance, at greater risk than it already is.”
I hope New Zealand and Australia learn from this ongoing debacle. It is not a terribly bright spot in the history of either country and not what I would want my country to be remembered for.