Last week, the government's position on accepting more refugees was clear: despite the obvious need and human suffering, National wouldn't accept any more. John Key even promised to veto a pair of opposition bills to raise the refugee quota. But now the focus groups have obviously spoken, because now Key is promising to take in "hundreds" more refugees:
The Government will today announce an emergency package to allow hundreds of Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand.
The one-off intake will go "over and above" New Zealand's annual refugee quota, but will not number into the thousands, Prime Minister John Key said this morning.
The move follows domestic and international calls for governments worldwide to do more to help the 13.5 million victims of the biggest refugee crisis since World War II - pressure which effectively forced Mr Key's hand a week after he ruled out further measures until after a review of refugee quotas next year.
While any increase is good news, I'm no expecting much, and its likely to be a long way from pulling our weight and doign our bit as a good global citizen. But National isn't interested in that, and has never been interested in that (just look at their record on climate change, or American wars); this is about being seen to respond to public pressure while keeping their virulently racist and Islamophobic base happy. So they'll be doing as little as they think they can get away with. And the other parties should call them on that.
And no, Key gets no credit for "doing the right thing", because he hasn't. Sticking your finger in the air to see which way public opinion is blowing before acting isn't "doing the right thing", its chickenshit. In this case its chickenshit which results in a better outcome, and obviously a government which listens to public opinion is better than the alternative, but we shouldn't pretend that there's any sort of courage or moral backbone on display here, because there isn't.