Australian leadership rumble possibly good for New Zealand

Yesterday in Canberra, Australia, there was a leadership rumble in the governing Liberal National Party coalition. Incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was assailed by former Minister of , Peter Dutton, over his failure to grasp the real aims and objectives of the National Energy Guarantee. It came as after 38 consecutive polls showed the persistent gap between the Australian Labor Party and Liberal/National Party only succeeding in growing – the A.L.P. on 55% and able to comfortably govern; the Liberal Nationals on 45% and probably wondering how to safely and cleanly dispose of Mr Turnbull’s political carcass.

So, what would it mean if Australia had another rumble and it resulted in a Labor-led coalition? The LIberal National Party would have some seriously huge questions to answer both to the Opposition, but also the Australian voting public. Such as:

  1. Few in Australia now seem to have any confidence in a Government iinvolving individual  Peter Dutton or Tony Abbott – two mean who seem to have scant regard for the nature of federal governance
  2. If the Turnbull Government falls, will there be the risk of others such as Fraser Anning, with openly hostile views towards minorities, trying to take over
  3. Is Bill Shorten fit to be Prime Minister of a country that is increasingly clearly saying “Go” to Malcolm Turnbull, should Labor win an election or will Tanya Pilbersek take over before then?

These questions are important, but I don not think that Australia can solve this identity crisis it is having without exploring a much bigger problem: Labor and the Liberals have become so much like the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. Fighting each other just for the sake of fighting each other, with almost toxic levels of contempt. Unable and unwilling to admit sometimes one party or the other may have better legislation.

I have already explained how the arrival of more refugees is not likely to cause adverse effects in New Zealand. I have also in the past explained how we have one of the best screening programmes in the west for newly arriving refugees and asylum seekers.

Also, the Australian leadership as it currently stands is non-compatible with New Zealand on a range of issues, from refugees and climate change to national security. The idea that has been floated that Australia should actively contribute to the armaments industry world wide by manufacturing and exporting armaments to whomever if it means jobs for Australia is fundamentally flawed. If this goes from being a daft idea on a back room whiteboard to being reality, it also puts a withering glare on the larger A.N.Z.A.C. identity that the two countries share.

New Zealanders in Australia are known to have it tough. Whereas other nations have clear paths to permanent residency or citizenship Australia does not have one for New Zealanders, thereby depriving New Zealanders living there a host of rights that go to Australian citizens, and nationalities of other countries where this is possible.

No one said murder or any other serious criminal offence is okay, but deporting people not originally from Australia back to where they came from is not okay if their lives are in danger. It is not okay, if that nation is recovering from a major disaster, to lump it with people who are Australian citizens because of some random isolated event in their past. So to deport people who have lived in Australia for nearly their entire life, and know nothing about New Zealand, have any connections there or support threatens to make already unstable people into time bombs.

Abandoning any effort at all to make good on Australia’s climate change commitments under the Paris Accord does not just undermine Australia, but also those nations that are trying to up hold their commitments.

I do not know whether the Australian Government of Malcolm Turnbull will fall. It might survive somehow to the next election, but its inability to do anything constructive for both Australia or the international community at large makes me doubt that its eventual demise will be a bad thing.

Certainly not to New Zealand.

Andrew Little correct to stand up to Peter Dutton

Yesterday, reacting to the deportation of New Zealanders who had lived their entire lives in Australia, Minister of Justice Andrew Little sharply criticized Australian Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton for the breach of human rights.

I applaud Mr Little for standing up to Mr Dutton. Mr Dutton has made it his mission in office to wage full on war against anyone who is seeking asylum, is a refugee or  otherwise in a vulnerable category of residency. Mr Dutton, who is reported to enjoy his work, was a detective in the Queensland Police force before he became a politician in 2001.

One method Mr Dutton employs is the use of offshore detention centres on tropical islands such as Manus, Christmas and Nauru. People who get sent there stay in centres and have been found to be severely wanting both in terms of their management, and a severe lack of basic amenities. Violence including riots, hunger strikes and so forth have been commonplace.

Another is the deportation to New Zealand or to other countries of people found to have committed a crime, whether they were born in that country or not. In the case of New Zealand, people who left New Zealand very young as children and have spent their entire adult lives in Australia have found themselves deported back to a country where they have nothing, know no one or any support.

Obviously I do not condone whatever crimes they committed. But the ethics of deporting a person to a country that they have no connections whatsoever to and are in danger of just committing further offences raises significant moral issues. They also serve to strain ties with those nations who have not had to deal with these people before and now find themselves with no choice but to take them in.

His policies have inspired United States President Donald Trump’s attempt to build a wall on the Mexican border, to wage the war he has been against illegal immigrants. Whilst many of the immigrants whose citizenship status is questionable in the United States, the vast majority were fleeing from countries where diplomatic relations with other countries are weak and seeking legal avenues for emergency protection signals to the Government that one is fleeing.

Mr Dutton wields considerable power. Aside from being Minister of Immigration, he is also in charge of the Australian Border Force, which are equivalent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the United States. The A.B.F., like I.C.E. in the United States have had considerable controversy in their time in existence, including the two examples I have mentioned above.

Mr Dutton was wrong to say New Zealand does little for defence. The South Pacific is a largely peaceful region, which very much how New Zealand wishes to keep it. Mr Little understands this perfectly. Mr Little also understands something Mr Dutton does not – if a nation does not want to have large numbers of asylum seekers arriving then it should not be interfering in that nations affairs. A lot of the asylum seekers arriving in Australia are from nations where Australia has joined the United States and other western powers – on occasion New Zealand too – in interfering for reasons of “national security”.


Prince Charles likely to be New Zealand’s next Head of State

Early yesterday it was announced that Prince Charles would be most likely to become New Zealand’s next head of state. The result, based on a unanimous vote of the Heads of State and Heads of Government assembled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting  was endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen of England. The Prince, father of William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, has been widely viewed as the next successor. But if Charles, Prince of Wales becomes King of England, how will a man viewed as stuffy and pedantic in some quarters be received?

I will be honest now that I support a Republic and a New Zealand Head of State. I do not believe that foreign states should be ruled by a hereditary sovereign, from thousands of kilometres away. Never have and never will.

Much has been written by so called researchers and authors about Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. His marriage and relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, subsequent marriage and her gaining of what sounds like a rather begrudging title, appears to have been accepted by Her Majesty rather coolly. Maintaining the tradition and protocol of the Royal  Family, one might have expected Prince Charles to stay loyal to Diana. Make what one will of Diana and Dodi al Fayed, but perhaps with her marriage to Prince Charles collapsing, the resulting affair should not have been surprising.

It is William and Harry that I feel sorry for. But now grown men, the former with two children and the latter about to be married, the endless media scrutiny, rumour and innuendo fuelled by money hungry grubs in the womens magazines shall be used to it by now.

As for how this will affect a Republic of New Zealand? Prince William is widely viewed as a better choice. His maturity, down to earth persona coupled with the graceful way his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge conducts herself and their children mike him a hit with many. Maybe his time is still coming but many would prefer him to reign.

Subsequently I expect a spike in support for a Republic. The argument for a Republic oof New Zealand has been laid out in other articles. But this is the first time that I have attempted to argue against having Prince Charles as a Head of State. This is further backed up knowledge that Australians favour a Republic, but are more waiting for the Queen to pass on and have a second referendum. Their 1999 referendum asked whether an Australian should be Head of State, but its failure to provide the right to an ELECTED Head of State meant it failed.


Chinese plan for a military base in Vanuatu dangerous for region

On Stuff yesterday, there was a report about China reportedly seeking to build or otherwise have a military installation in the Republic of Vanuatu. The purported move comes as concern grows about the militarisation of the Pacific by various nations.

To be fair Britain, France, the United States have all had military testing grounds for nuclear weapons in the Pacific. France and Britain, whilst no longer testing nuclear weapons in accordance with the Nuclear Test Ban treaty, have a number of non-nuclear military installations around the world. The United States operates a large number of military bases around the world – thought to be 900 in all. China has military bases outside of its sovereign territory, including the naval air station built on a man-made island in the South Pacific.

However this is a first for China, or any other military power to be establishing a military base in a south Pacific nation other than New Zealand or Australia. The location suggests a desire to expand its influence around the world. China, in much the same way America did when a neo-conservative think tank called “Project for a New American Century” formed in 1997, has a road map for global influence. The P.N.A.C. has a road map for achieving total global domination, and largely through military strength and using it as a force of influence.

Politicians in both National and Labour are expressing concern about the militarization of the Pacific. So is New Zealand First, whose leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters has acknowledged that the news is creating strategic unease. It will be interesting to see what happens because New Zealand needs to tread carefully between the interests of America, but also the growing influence and reach of China.

Position’s on international influence in the South Pacific vary and can be split into several groups:

  1. The first is staunchly pro-American/A.N.Z.U.S. and perhaps harks for the bygone era of a three nation A.N.Z.U.S. alliance – the people in this group generally have no problem with the U.S. nuclear umbrella, are reluctant to criticize American foreign policy mistakes and support increased defence spending.
  2. The second group is more likely to be Labour/Green supporters who find much wrong – and there is – with American foreign policy, but don’t always acknowledge the mistakes of others. They are not supporters of A.N.Z.U.S., do not believe in the need for more defence spending.
  3. The pro-China lobby. This no doubt exists somewhere. Mainly in political circles and trade – it might or might not be directed by Beijing or it could be Chinese New Zealanders who believe they are acting in Beijing’s interests. They oppose American influence for different reasons, but would be reluctant to criticize Beijing, despite the latter having scant regard for international law, committing appalling human rights abuses and suppressing its own citizenry.
  4. The third way – I think this group is a bit bigger than a figment of my imagination. It has little time for foreign power geopolitics, and believes most of New Zealand’s foreign policy and aid effort should be focussed on the South Pacific. Their view is that New Zealand Defence Force should be built around an understanding it might need to deploy in the South Pacific on its own with no back up from Australia, either to protect these nations from a foreign power or to stop local conflicts from spilling over.

I think I identify best with the fourth stance. Australia appears to not be thinking much about the influence of China around the world. More and more it has disassociated itself from South Pacific affairs. In the past it would have lead international efforts at disaster relief in the region. Their response to disasters in Tonga, Papua New Guinea and other places; denial of the humanitarian situation on Nauru and Manus Islands suggest a lack of empathy.

Will brave little New Zealand make a stand like we did on Rainbow Warrior, or will, like Australia, we meekly roll over?

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.