Former immigration minister Aussie Malcolm says New Zealand's
reputation abroad will be damaged by accepting refugees from
Australia's asylum centres.
Mr Malcolm, an immigration consultant, told Radio New Zealand
the deal announced last week for 150 asylum seekers to be
brought here from Australia was "a tragedy".
He said the agreed United Nations conventions on dealing with
refugees in a humanitarian way had been ignored by Australia.
"Australia and Australia alone stands out from the rest of
the world with arguments about queue jumpers and all sorts of
populist jargon that actually hides racism, and now New
Zealand has joined Australia it's a tragedy," Mr Malcolm told
Radio New Zealand.
"We've left the community of European nations and responsible
nations around the world and joined a minority of one. We've
gone the ocker way.
"It couldn't be a worse outcome."
The asylum seeker deal was announced during Australian Prime
Minister Julia Gillard's visit to Queenstown last week.
The 150 will be asylum seekers who have been approved as
refugees in one of Australia's recently re-opened offshore
processing centres in the island state of Nauru or Manus in
Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister John Key justified the new arrangement by
indicating it was New Zealand's way of paying its way for use
of Australia's more sophisticated intelligence gathering on
illegal migration, which is shared with New Zealand.
Mr Malcolm said the deal was damaging to New Zealand's
"I think New Zealand's standing as an international citizen
reduces, and I think our ability to take leadership positions
reduces," he said.
He said New Zealand was in a position to provide leadership
and advice to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia to
resolve the refugee problem "at its root cause".
"Instead of providing that leadership we're going down this
rather ungentlemanly path. It's very sad," Mr Malcolm said.
Mr Key said this morning that he didn't believe there would
be any political fallout from the asylum seeker deal.
"At the end of the day we're going to take 750 refugees [as
part of New Zealand's international obligations]. So you're
simply arguing where you source them from," Mr Key told
"We're helping out our mates a little bit, but we get a hell
of a lot in return, mark my words."
Mr Key said during his prime ministership there had been many
occasions that showed Australia's commitment to acting on
refugee boats in Australian waters, and the value of having
access to their "big intelligence network" made the deal
struck last week "worth it".