Today, Labour Leader Andrew Little did something I have never heard a mainstream New Zealand politician do. He criticized Australian immigration policy, calling the politics of the Nauru Detention centre “ugly”. And as I reflect on the current shocking state of affairs on this tiny Australian territory I think not only is he right to do so, but that the New Zealand Government should put aside party politics for a moment and heed his call.
Never did I think – until this day – that New Zealand would be morally obliged to step into Australian domestic issues. Nor did I ever hope that such a dreadful day as this, when one of Australia’s most loyal and long time friends and indeed a country whose former Prime Minister Julia Gillard called “family” in 2011, should feel obliged to condemn Australian government policy. However the decline in Australia’s moral compass with regards to asylum seekers and to a lesser extent on immigration at large has deteriorated to such a degree that by staying silent we risk being portrayed as complicit.
It is – just to remind people – because of this damning expose by the British newspaper, The Guardian that questions must now arise about the overall direction that the Government of Malcolm Turnbull, is taking Australia. He does this with able support from his predecessor former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and far right senator Pauline Hanson, as well as Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton, Attorney General George Brandis and hard right senators such as Corey Bernardi.
Let me ask you this. Where else in the West do Governments threaten to punish doctors and nurses for just doing what they are expected to do – diagnose patients medical issues and treat them? Where else do they get threatened for calling out illegal and morally bankrupt policy that is directly threatening the lives of hundreds of very vulnerable people, most of whom did not choose to become asylum seekers or refugees?
Just this once, New Zealand MUST step in and say – one nation to another nation – that this is not acceptable conduct and that Australia is damaging itself on the world stage. For our sake as a nation known for its commitment to human rights. For Australia’s sake as a nation that in the past has been very tolerant of new comers from all over the world. For humanity’s sake.