Taking 150 folk from Manus helps a few but solves nothing. We can do better.
Let’s take the lot…the four hundred odd left over blokes and the 1200 odd others left to wait on the pleasure of a Trump led America.
Let’s just clean out those camps and bring them all to New Zealand, let’s just end this.
And let’s do it this summer.
These refugee folk have been in a limbo for so long now I can well imagine the scenes of wonder and welcome and great joy as they step for the first time into a New Zealand summer.
I’d like to see those smiles. It would be beautiful. It would be kind.
Sure it will be tough going at first for both the refugees and us.
The logistics and the urgency required are daunting and will soon seem overwhelming and perhaps impossible to imagine doing but really it is only a big ask not an impossible one.
We are not that hopeless.
To transport, house and integrate almost 2000 people quickly will require a national effort to do it at all and a sustained national effort to do it well.
This will be a good thing as it has been a while since the last one and we need to practise.
It will also be of great practical benefit to us as we strengthen our social services to meet their need and thus build faster the additional capacity we require to meet our own.
Sure it could have a rough start but getting it right will be a boon for all for years to come.
But I think we need a better deal for ourselves if we take them all, it is after all a mighty commitment to make and it will have its burden’s we will have to carry.
This is the deal I think we should offer Australia.
We will take everybody right now, those camps can be closed and in return Australia restores the rights of taxpaying Kiwi’s who live in Australia.
We will ensure that all of those who agree to come with us come with the understanding that they will never be able to live in or even visit Australia. Ever.
You will ensure that you continue to send back the boats and we will do the same.
Australia has spent over 10 Billion dollars on the “Pacific Solution” over the past four years and billions more over the 16 years since September 11. The money spent restoring Kiwi’s rights in Australia will be less than these ongoing costs. This will save them money.
Beyond that the Australian people will welcome and aid a humane solution.
This whole thing has been a matter of great upset to them, on either side of the argument and it has been making them all very grumpy.
But even the most bloody minded of them will eventually agree that a solution that gives these refugees a chance at a happy ever after is preferable.
They will welcome a deal in their National Interest that lets them and everyone else move on.
They also get the bonus of a sudden and dramatic escape from the recent misfortunate of falling hostage to President Trump’s Foreign Policy. That should cheer them up.
Lightening their load right now seems to me to be something a good mate might do even if only because Australians are much more fun when they are happy.
But fair go mate not at mugs rates.
I think restoring kiwi rights in Australia is a fair price; it will be of immediate help to a great many of our own and it will keep the door open to so much opportunity for us all now and in the future.
It’s a fair price I think for helping someone give folks a fair go to be given a fair go yourself!
Now let’s talk about the money, fasten your seat belts.
New Zealand pledges to undertake the resettlement separate to its currently funded refugee intake commitments.
These are extraordinary circumstances and it would not be right that the refugees who are now in our quota queue are disadvantaged by it.
It should not cost too much anyway…
New Zealand will seek financial and material assistance from around the world to help in the resettlement of these refugees. We will ask for help from the United Nations, other governments, businesses, philanthropic organisations etc or any other members of the international community who may feel so inclined as to lend a helping hand.
With the approval of the Australian Government we will establish a “fund me” campaign to accept donations directly from every day Australians and other folks from around the world.
I would be picking that such a campaign in the lead up to Christmas would enjoy a great deal of good will.
There are many who will be opposed to the very thought of this indeed I reckon I can hear the wailing and picture the rending of the hair and the gnashing of the teeth even now. However, they should consider it.
We all should.
These folks are nothing to be frightened of, yes even the loud ones and they deserve a chance at happiness too. It is also in our National Interest to maintain an open and equal relationship with Australia.
This will help and it will make us proud. Let’s do this.
David Tank is a Tauranga based strategy, messaging and issues management consultant. He lived and worked in Australia for 20 years and is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand.