Thursday, September 06, 2018


Before the Pacific Forum meeting on Nauru, there was hope that the Prime Minister would represent New Zealand values while she was there. Nauru is a concentration camp for Australia, a place of incarceration and torture for the refugees Australia doesn't want to acknowledge. Any decent New Zealand Prime Minister should have taken a stand, denounced this, and done something about it: rescued the refugee children whose torture at Australian hands is driving them to suicide; offered them the free seats on the 757 which flew her there; at least met with them.

But of course, Ardern did none of that:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met with agencies helping refugees in Nauru yesterday but didn't meet directly with refugees.

Ms Ardern was in the country to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, but the issue of asylum seekers detained there on the behalf of the Australian government was also raised.

Ms Ardern had said she wanted to see what life was like for the refugees, but before leaving Nauru confirmed she hadn't had direct meetings because she didn't want to raise expectations.

"I do get letters from refugees here - I have had stories come in to me that way and I've read those letters, I've replied to them.

"But I was worred about raising those expectations."

Or, to put it another way, she was worried about giving them hope. The very thing she is meant to stand for.

Australia's Pacific concentration camp is something kiwis feel very strongly is wrong. Absolutely, fundamentally wrong. And not just kiwis: Australia has been refered to the International Criminal Court over its treatment of refugees, though there's no word yet on whether Australian political leaders will face the justice they deserve for it. The least Ardern could have done is represented that feeling.

But I guess you can always rely on a politician to disappoint.