Here they come again.
Jacinda Ardern is certainly doing wonders for the trans-Tasman relationship. Her government got the ball rolling with Chris Hipkins sparking off a diplomatic row. Now Jacinda’s virtue-signalling antics are undoing all the hard work Australia put in to end the flood of illegal immigrants that saw boats arriving daily in Australia by 2013.
When the Abbott government put its policy of boat turnbacks and zero tolerance for illegal arrivals into action, the boats quickly stopped. The overflowing refugee camps were gradually drained. Except for a handful of holdouts who refused to leave Manus Island.
New Zealand asylum offer fuels smuggle trade
New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 asylum-seekers from Manus Island late last year is believed to have prompted an escalation in people-smuggling operations, with intelligence officials claiming at least three boats had recently sought to test the shift in policy and use the country as a “back door” to Australia.
Like any good lefty, Ardern appeared more concerned with trumpeting her “compassionate” credentials than with the likely consequences of her soapboxing.
A source said there was evidence that the apparent rise in people-smuggling activity marketing New Zealand had followed the Ardern government’s offer to take asylum-seekers from Australian offshore detention centres.
At least one boat has been intercepted in Australian waters, and more people-smuggling ventures headed this way have been busted in Sri Lanka.
Ardern was specifically warned that her virtue-signalling would act as a pull-factor for boats. The people-smugglers are alert to any sign of wavering, and have flagged Ardern’s interference as a sign that Australia’s tough stance is wavering.
“it is clear that they are using publicity around New Zealand’s resettlement offer to market their services to vulnerable people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere”
The target for these people is ultimately Australia. The smuggling boats are unlikely to ever reach New Zealand. Even those who do, as experience has shown, will use New Zealand as a back-door to Australia.
So, while tilted-head “compassion” might play well to Ardern’s base, the reality is that others – especially Australia – are going to have to deal with the consequences.