Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Time to get joint policy on migrants

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Chinese Falun Gong members. Photo / Geoff Dale
Chinese Falun Gong members. Photo / Geoff Dale

I'm being very cautious about commenting on the 10 Chinese Falun Gong asylum-seekers who were the cause of much transtasman consternation this week.

The last time I criticised the Falun Gong - for wanting to join the Santa Parade - there was a protest outside the ZB building that went on for weeks.

However, the issue of the asylum-seekers' country-shopping is one that is going to need to be resolved between Australia and New Zealand.

Australia has huge problems with refugees arriving on their shores by boat. This year alone there were 1700.

This particular group ended up in Darwin after the boat they were on experienced motor problems but they decided they wouldn't seek asylum in Australia because of the mandatory detention process and said they would head for New Zealand.

The Australian authorities issued them temporary visas and allowed them to provision for the trip - which is simply passing the buck. Ultimately, wisdom prevailed. The Falun Gong looked at the marine forecast, heeded the advice of officials that the trip would be treacherous, and decided to stay in Australia and take their chances.

New Zealand and Australia need a joint protocol for dealing with illegal migrants. With millions of people displaced the world over, the problem is not going to go away and we can't rely on our isolation to protect us forever - especially when Australia is willing to allow its ports to be stop-off points for illegal migrants heading our way.

- Herald on Sunday

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