Will Australia ask NZ to help with Nauru refugees?

Australia has agreed to take  12,000 refugees living on the borders of Syria and northern Iraq.

It continues however to refuse entry to refugees on boats from Indonesia.

The head of Australia’s Refugee Council says he expects Australia will soon ask New Zealand to help get it out of trouble with the Nauru asylum seekers’ centre but New Zealand should break away from Australia and use its own good record to push for change.

Paul Power, the chief executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, spoke to MPs at the Foreign Affairs select committee and urged them to consider how New Zealand could use its influence on the matter rather than working in concert with Australia.

Power is also the chair of the Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Working Group on refugees.

Asked why Syrians currently in detention on Manus Island and Nauru did not deserve the opportunity of resettlement, The Prime Minster of Australia, Tony Abbott said, “We will never ever do anything that encourages the evil trade of people smuggling and all of those who have come to Australia by boat are here as a result of people smuggling.”

“The logic is simple and, in isolation, compelling,” says Michael Gordon writing in the Sydney Morning Herald. “Australia will not do anything that offers the most tacit, indirect or qualified acceptance that people in desperate situations will do whatever they can to get to safety, including paying third parties for passage.”

“Otherwise, the argument goes, the boats will start coming again, along with the deaths at sea. Labour agrees.”

“But the problem is twofold. If all other countries adopted the same approach, the humanitarian crisis in Europe would escalate exponentially; and those on Manus and Nauru are left in a perpetual, mind-numbing or mind-destroying limbo,” says Gordon.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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