Yesterday I blogged about the trouble with the Liberal Party of Australia over the last three years under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. It would be an understatement to say I think that the Liberal Party winning the 2016 Australian election would be a bad thing for New Zealand. The Liberal Party of Australia under Messrs Abbott and Turnbull has caused unprecedented damage to the A.N.Z.A.C. legacy with its attacks on asylum seekers, contempt for international law regarding refugees and support for questionable wars overseas. Let us have at look at how the re-election of the major conservative party in Australian politics would be a bad thing for New Zealand.
The Ministers under their watch, especially but not limited to Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton and Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop have been responsible for much of the damage, but cameos by both Prime Ministers have not helped either. Whereas New Zealand has progressed steadily with equality for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, Australia has continued to lag behind with both Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott seeking to derail initiatives to help. Given the large number of New Zealanders living in Australia and vice versa, it would be nice for same sex relationships to have the same rights before a Court of law.
Australia has also deported New Zealanders for committing criminal offences despite some of them having lived in Australia for so long that they have no connection to New Zealand whatsoever. This happens whilst deportations of Australians living in New Zealand who commit criminal offences do not seem to be an occurrence. It is also true that some of the New Zealanders deported have been sent to Nauru detention centre where human rights that are recognized on both sides of the Tasman Sea are regularly broken by private security guards with little understanding or care for international law.
A Labor Government is quite capable of helping New Zealand on the subject of providing New Zealand nationals living in Australia with a path to permanent residency, and – if they wish to go further – citizenship. It was a Liberal Government in 2001 under Prime Minister John Howard, struggling to win an election that introduced changes that made a path to citizenship for New Zealanders all but impossible.
A path to citizenship is not the only thing that would assist New Zealand interests. Over the last 30 years since we left the A.N.Z.U.S. treaty, which I regard as a Cold War relic that needs to be replaced, Australia’s pivot towards the United States has meant that it has devoted less time and resources to assisting South Pacific Island nations. This pivot has tended to be strongest under Liberal-National coalition Governments. This has enabled China to develop significant influence in the region, which has small island nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga but also Papua New Guinea in a dangerous Catch-22 situation. On one hand China’s need for goods and services from the region provide significant growth opportunities, but on the other, China’s callous disregard for human rights, local issues and the environment means that locals could get a raw deal which may lead to conflict.
Any long term decline in the true values and well being of Australia and Australian society at large is not going to be beneficial for New Zealand. When the former is governed by a Government with no more vision or substantial policy than the tired National-led Government in New Zealand after only three years of governance compared to seven and a half here, and wants to be seen unwinding any progressive policies it can, who will gain? Not Australia.
And subsequently not New Zealand.