Why N.Z. should not trust Peter Dutton on refugees

New Zealand and Australia have a close relationship. Thousands of New Zealanders live there and thousands of Australians live here. The relationship is in many ways one of the most beautiful between two sovereign nations where each others citizens enjoy rights in the other country that other nationalities can only dream of unless they apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Immigration between the two countries has for years been a largely N.Z.>>Australia drift as many New Zealanders have gone over to enjoy the economic benefits of living in a country with a larger and more diverse economy.

In recent years concerns have arisen among Australian politicians about New Zealand being a potential back door to the “Lucky Country”. Concerns have been particularly loud about refugees and asylum seekers, which for reasons unknown Australia – whilst being well known as a conservative country – has an almost infantile fear of. This is all the more striking for a country that took thousands of refugees from Europe during World War 2.

Its Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton, a former policeman, has led the charge with a zeal that has been in some respects his own undoing on the world stage. Once recognized as a Minister of Immigration, his reputation has nose dived with attack after attack on refugees and asylum seekers, claiming they are out take Australian jobs, are terrorists, rapists and wealthy queue jumpers.

Mr Dutton has been caught lying red handed. This is not the first and probably not the last time that the Minister for Immigration and Border Control has been caught being economic with the truth. A few examples are below:

In 2015 Mr Dutton claimed weapons were used in a stand off with Manus Island guards. Papua New Guinea police said no such thing happened.

Mr Dutton claims the asylum seekers are wealthy. This could not be further from the truth as many sacrificed everything to get away from the wars, dictatorships and persecution that made their past lives abject misery and outright dangerous.

When a shooting rampage occurred, Mr Dutton claimed that the incident started a result of asylum seekers taking a young boy to the centre. Papua New Guinea police said that this was not the case.

The Reverend Tim Costello visited Manus Island recently and found that the facilities on the island that the Australian Government are – contrary to Mr Dutton’s continued assertions – not completed and that in many respects still look like a construction site.

The number of times that this man, a Minister of the Government of our nearest and dearest neighbour, has grown his nose can only suggest that he is a compulsive liar who has no regard for the truth. How can the New Zealand Government work with him and his colleagues, many of whom are thoroughly discredited in their own portfolio’s, when they so determinedly lie, lie and lie some more?

At the end of the day we have look past what Mr Dutton is doing. It is not for us to tell Australia how to govern itself – we can only hope that in making the necessary choices for Australia that it comes to realize it is going to have to do much better on refugees and asylum seekers. It is going to have to respect the fact that New Zealand actually made meaningful gains from having asylum seekers from the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa. We stand to make further gains from the asylum seekers that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has volunteered to take.

And although Australia took a leap forward with same sex marriage, in terms of social equality, I am not sure that you can call Australia the “Lucky Country” any more.

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