Saturday, April 09, 2005


75 Afghans rescued at sea by the container ship Tampa yesterday became New Zealand citizens. It's an occasion for a small amount of national pride in the fact that we are a country that accepts people in need, rather than leaving them to drown. These people have already made a valuable contribution since arriving here in 2001; they've got jobs, made friends, done well in school - everything we ask for in a citizen. I really can't think of a more fitting end to (our part of) the Tampa saga than that they should join our whanau and become another stream in the braided river of New Zealand society.


Still, there is rather more than 75 people in need in the world.

Its a token gesture regarding some individuals who were lucky enough (or smart enough) to have a whole lot of media attention placed on them.

Posted by Genius : 4/09/2005 04:19:00 PM

Genius, I'd say it was luck. They were in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. Irrespective of everyone else in the world, I'm happy for them.

Posted by Lucia Maria : 4/09/2005 04:50:00 PM

I guess I'm not "unhappy" for them.

But, big picture, how many people should we let into NZ? (I'm not saying 0 - You can say 1 milion if you have a reason), what criteria should we use and should we apply those rules consistantly or just take it one case at a time?

Posted by Genius : 4/09/2005 08:41:00 PM

They are queue-jumping the legitimate refugees left dying in camps all over the world. Helen Clark is the biggest people-smuggler in our history. She insists they come in and then she makes people smuggling a crime similar to murder. How does she think they got all the way to the boat if they weren't smuggling each other at the very least? What a joke. Why is the NZ defence force in Afghanistan? They must be doing a hopeless job if it is not safe enough for those Afghanis to be repatriated.

Will the refugees go back if their home country is safe? - of course not - because they are immigrants not refugees. Oh, of course they will go back there to collect other family members to come back here, but it is so... unsafe.

The personal whims of the Prime Minister in insulting and diminishing the value of our citizenship is par for the course. I'm sure her socialist conference in Sweden that she attended just after the Tampa fiasco had no bearing in her decision.

Three years to get citizenship! - a joke. A joke country with a wheat-bix card citizenship.

ALL refugees should be given TEMPORARY permits after detained screening with a view that they will cherish the day they can rejoice at being returned to the homeland they so long for. As would be the same for any of us I should hope. A generation on and then we can start thinking about dishing out citizenship.

How many of the refugees' family members will they let in also?

What if a super-tanker load full of 10,000 punters jumped off the wharf in Auckland and claimed asylum? Would people still have the same Tampa attitude towards that event?

Nauru recieved millions of dollars for bailing out the Aussies. How much did we get? ...Zero.

There must be 75 English-speaking, law-abiding, educated, reasonably sophisticated, non-religious refugees in need of a home out there.

Don't start with the "special circumstances" arguments either - it doesn't wash. There are examples in Darfur, West Papua, Congo etc. right now. Did we offer to get the punters out of Srebrinica? Take the Jews from Europe? And don't mention Rwanda - weren't we chairing the UN security council at the time of that one? Our record is absolutely shocking. The Tampa decision was cynical and inconsistent.

We should:
1. boost our quota of 500 (worse than Austarlia's for all of the moralistic carping),
2. do the bloody screening job properly, and
3. end the spurious family-reunification category (and not just for refugees either - we don't need more pensioners to enforce their differences and cousins they can inbreed with).

The sad thing is those Tampa people do not deserve to be here. They owe it to themselves to seek a better life, and we owe it to ourselves to take those who we want, on our terms.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 01:48:00 AM

These refugees are the ones who, instead of sitting on their backsides and whining, actually had the initiative to do something about their situation. New Zealand would do well to welcome these people; and perhaps those living here who hate living in a multi-cultural society would do well to follow suit.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 12:59:00 PM

"These refugees are the ones who, instead of sitting on their backsides and whining" - No they don't whine in refugee camps and their villages they either wait for security to be restored or form their own militias and forces to secure it for themselves. These people are abondoning their homeland and their fellow oppressed citizens. (assuming they are opressed).
"actually had the initiative to do something about their situation." - No they had the money, bribes and the material resources and contacts with smugglers to put their families at risk to illegally enter a completely alien country. Many refugees, such as a lot of the Vietnamese refugees represent the wealthy elite whose political fortunes have changed and when the boot was on the other foot bribed, coerced and manipulated their way out of the mess they might have well contributed to and benefited from. It is the people left behind who are most at risk and most in need of our help and quota requirements.
"New Zealand would do well to welcome these people;" - ie. to reward illegal immigration and announce to the world that we will take everyone. They don't even have to make it here - just half way and we will pick them up - all at our expense. Why don't they come into our embassy or the UNHCR and fill out the paperwork and apply properly? If I was stuck in a shitty transit camp going through the proper channels I would be livid that some little punk threatening to scuttle a ship has barged in ahead of me - it is unjust and a dangerous precedent.
"perhaps those living here who hate living in a multi-cultural society would do well to follow suit." - I wouldn't count on it, especially if the government insists that virtually no integration programmes are needed for new residents who hold very different and often conflicting values, language, practices etc. It is not those who are against multi-culturalism per se who are irked by the Tampa fiasco. Anyone with any sense of justice and fairness will see the same rules must apply to a boat-load of English-speaking Westerners or Pacific Islanders as for Afghanis.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 02:13:00 PM

Yawn - T Selwyn. Any chance you could give us a potted history of your life. Not by any chance born in New Zealand were we? Got a free state education did you, went to university perhaps. Ever suffered any civil wars whilst swanning around Grey Lynn.

Besides half of the Tampa refugees that didn't end up in NZ got the hell of Nauru for two years. So its not like they had that easy a time. I believe the UNHCR did make them refugees as well at the time.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 06:02:00 PM

Given T selwyn thinks they are some sort of an immigration expert its a shame they got the numbers wrong. New Zealand takes 750 refugees (UNHCR) per annum. Does T Selwyn have any thoughts on the 2300 Zimbabweans New Zealand specially exempted last year. I'm sure T selwyn would have some interesting thoughts on that one? - "Anyone with any sense of justice and fairness will see the same rules must apply to a boat-load of English-speaking Westerners"

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 06:14:00 PM

Kevin: In answer to your questions: Yes - is that a problem?, No - I'm still paying for my education, and Yes, I'm only one person, it is rather akward whilst swanning but I'm trying.

You are correct the amount of the quota is 750 - I believe that is proportionately lower then Australia. The NZ Herald says "Aug 2001, NZ accepts 133 Tampa refugees including 37 unaccompanied minors... Sept. 2004, a further 207 of their relations settle in NZ" and then cites one example "His parents, three sisters and four brothers have now joined him..."

By letting in just one we get nine. There are 207 legitimate refugees stuck in a hell hole somewhere because we chose the "lucky" ones. In the words of War of the Worlds "And still they come."

There is a building boom on in Kabul at the moment because peace is breaking out. This does not fit comfortably with importing people from that country to this on the grounds that the situation is unbearable for them. Do you really think it is that hard to be declared a refugee by the UNHCR? It is still up to us which UNHCR refugees are in most need or most suitable for us to take.

Interesting thoughts: Even in Zimbabwe white people are standing for parliament and the MDC needs all the support they can get - not waves of defections. This problem was predicted some time ago that by letting in people from politically unstable countries we open ourselves up to just this sort of mass refugee situation. 2,300! Until recently the amount of PRC students was restricted because another Tianamen would mean tens of thousands of refugees. Of course the government is going to go easy on the Zimbos because they are mostly white and we apparently have rural worker shortages and they would be more ruthless towards the Chinese because they aren't white. I believe the government is that racist. Just see the operation of the Pacific quota and the Western Samoa citizenship Act if their is doubt that non-whites are discriminated against. It is unfortunate to have to restrict the numbers of otherwise legitimate migrants because of a "risk" not of their own making but the consequences have to be taken into consideration.

The issue is control - numbers and quality. We might all believe the government should set and maintain transparent and principled standards designed to enhance our country, but by an open door to every man jack? That's fundamentally incompatible with control.

The immigration department deliberately has no specific data on overstayers and is hopelessly mismanaged. It is as if the colonial mass immigration policy was still in effect by way of bureaucratic ineptitude. Watch out for the next amnesty.

It's such a chronic topic but I have restricted it to refugees since it's in the news, however I will say this as a BTW: The days when any public dialogue or argument to reduce the number/raise the quality of migrants from the staus quo is seen by otherwise liberal people as automatically, ex definitio, racist needs to be moved beyond. Consensus may never be achieved but the whole: "you are against 50,000 net migration per year therefore you are racist" is, to quote Kevin a "yawn."

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2005 07:56:00 PM

We are rich country, we can afford to take them. Better, they will contribute wealth to our country.

For all you critics of these boat people coming to NZ - were ever stuck in the Afghan mountains in a blizzard I would guarantee any number of dirt poor peasnats would take you in, give you shelter and share what food they have. For people like that, your selfishness must seem incomphrensible.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/11/2005 08:32:00 AM

Anonymous -

Im not sure you are listening to t selwyn's point. His point - as far as i can tell - is not that we shouldn't take afgani refugees - it is that we should take ANOTHER 75 refugees (and some more besides that) based on NEED as opposed to ability to break our laws, in-fact maybe the exact same dirt poor pesants you are talking about in your post who never stood a chance of getting on a boat to NZ.

By mentioning those people - you seem to be making his point and then thinking it is an argument against him.

Posted by Genius : 4/11/2005 11:50:00 AM

I am like Singer a "hard core" utilitarian (more so than him maybe). BUT I dont see a utilitarian gain in hating all the rich people just because they dont donate. I dont expect people to be morally pure, all we need is a system (morals or laws or whatever) that encourages good behaviour even if perfect behaviour never occurs. In fact it is much better to have poor morals and good behaviour than good morals and poor behaviour.

Also I note that in reality if you opened your borders and allowed all the starving into NZ or gave all your money away (as the simplistic analysis might suggest) the system would collapse and everyone would be worse off.

Posted by Genius : 4/11/2005 05:29:00 PM