NZ’s Tampa and a week of political and media spin

On Monday night news broke that a boat of asylum seekers supposedly destined for New Zealand had been detained in Indonesian waters. Immediately the NZ Prime Minister, John Key, came out with a hard-line ‘we won’t take illegal boat people’ stance. Since then the continuing news stories on both sides of the Tasman has left me convinced that the majority of this story is spin and the group of asylum seekers currently being used as political prawns by both politicians and the media.

Over the last week I have been collecting some of the news stories to piece together the bigger picture, starting with Tuesday:

‘No evidence’ asylum seekers heading to NZ (stuff.co.nz)

New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathon Coleman said there was “no concrete evidence” that the Sri Lankan people were actually trying to reach New Zealand.

“When they had a look at the boat, there was no evidence that they were truly intending to come here, so I’m sure there is a range of things that the people on that boat are trying to do to leverage their position,” Coleman said.

“While there is obviously the capacity for them to come to New Zealand, we feel in this case it was pretty unlikely that that was their intended destination.”

“The reality is that you would expect there to be things like maps on board, charts that would indicate that that was their true destination and I haven’t had any information that any of that material has been found on that boat.”

Asked why they had been holding signs indicating they wanted to come to New Zealand, Coleman said: “Obviously, if they could create a wave of political pressure to come here, I’m sure they would be pretty keen to get to somewhere but look, they won’t be coming to New Zealand.”

So on Monday night we had Key telling us these people were definitely coming, however, on Tuesday morning we have the immigration minister telling us they weren’t. What is most interesting is the last line where Coleman even suggests these people were set up to create a political storm.

Of course Key wasn’t happy about his hard-line stance being undermined by the truth so he came out with this gem (via nzherald on Wednesday):

“He hasn’t had an intelligence briefing, he’s had a briefing from his officials, there’s a difference.”

One wonders if his intelligence briefing was run by his political and media advisors… anyway… this hardline approach by Key then saw all the vested interest groups and individuals (Amnesty International, Kiwiblog, Helen Clark, etc) come out to add their 2c into the debate.

The most interesting of these comments came from the United Sri Lanka Association who claimed Sri Lanka was “as peaceful as Wellington” and “There’s no violence there right now, the violence there caused by Tamil terrorism has been quelled, it’s been put to rest two years ago.

Well if this was the case then you would expect Sri Lanka to be somewhere near NZ in the Global Peace Index right? Last year NZ ranked 2nd most peaceful country in the world, Sri Lanka ranked 126th, and as for their argument it has improved, sure the year before they ranked 133rd, but the year before that they ranked 125th so their peace ranking isn’t improving, and it is certainly nowhere near the same as NZ.

Also by this time the Australian media commentators had picked up on the NZ asylum boat story claiming it as proof that the Gillard Government’s Malaysia Solution was working. The best of these stories was the SMH with “Message received: asylum seekers give Australia a wide berth” which claimed that the boat supposedly headed to NZ may have also tried to go to Canada!

Then yesterday the nzherald had an article about how a person who came from the Tampa has been caught up in a car rebirthing ring.  A story that was worded in such a way that it clearly made out that this guy was bad because of the country he had came from – not because bad apples can occur in any country or situation.

And now a week after the story first broke, the Sunday Star Times is claiming they have got a reporter onboard and reporting there is a stalemate going on about where these people should go… the saga continues…

Right now there is a conspiracy filled cynic in me saying the Nats and the media is feeding us bullshit. Yes there is a refugee boat in Indonesia, yes these people are in need – and we should help them!

But instead there is a whole lot of media and political spin going on to make it look like these people are evil zombies out to destroy everything we hold dear. Of course that is crap, but if you read enough stories about how these people will steal your cars, are secretly violent terrorists, and are so lazy they will use all your taxpayers’ dollars on welfare you’ll believe it right?

NZ’s Asylum Seeker Media Beat Up

The lead story on both nzherald.co.nz and stuff.co.nz tonight is that apparently an asylum seeker boat has been detained in Indonesia that is ‘apparently’ destined for New Zealand. My immediate thought was someone just stuffed up and gave the people the flag of the wrong country! However, it gets even better than that with both articles are riddled with errors.

Indonesia has become a major transit point for people from Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn countries trying to illegally enter New Zealand and Australia.

How many times does it have to be repeated that it is not illegal to seek asylum… in fact it is a guaranteed human right!

Reuters photographs show the refugees holding up signs that read: “We need New Zealand”.

Really? Cause the photo attached to the stuff article says “Newsland”. Sure it could be a spelling mistake, but I am feeling that I am not being fed the full story and instead either these few photos are from a select few people from the boat… or even worse they have been staged.

Then comes the comment from John Key:

“It confirms what I’ve been saying for some time; it’s only a matter of time before large vessels, steel hulled vessels capable of navigating their way to New Zealand or Canberra or far away parts of the world, would try and make their way here.”

I would love to see any boat make it to Canberra. It is quite a distance inland from the coast!

I remember about a year ago Key making a similar bizarre comment from Key about asylum boats… one thinks he is still getting his media advice from the same people who advise Australia’s Liberal Party.

Maybe Go Back To Where You Came From should be shown on TV in New Zealand too.

48 Hours in Melbourne

I have just got back from a very fast weekend holiday in Melbourne.

At 7.45am on Friday I caught the daylight XPT Train from Sydney to Melbourne. I really like trains so spending over 11 hours on a train is better and cheaper than flying. Upon arriving in Melbourne I headed to the airport to meet a friend flying in from NZ to join me for the weekend. Once we had checked into our accommodation (Space Hotel) we went for a midnight stroll around the CBD.

On Saturday we got up early and headed out to the MCG and walked around the former Olympic Stadiums. From there we caught a tram to St Kilda and Luna Park before spending the afternoon shopping. In the evening we investigated Southbank and Crown Casino. The casino complex is massive, by far the biggest casino I have been in, and also just as impressive in eating my $5 I put in a pokie machine in rapid time.

Having tired our legs out with so much walking on Saturday, we spent Sunday morning at Melbourne Museum. Their dinosaur exhibition is amazing (see video below). From there we went shopping at Spencer Street Mall – which has a very Dressmart feel to it. After this me and my friend parted ways, they flew back to NZ and I caught the overnight XPT train back to Sydney.

This was my third visit to Melbourne, it is one of my favourite cities, in fact I came very close to moving there a few years ago – but a better opportunity arose in Sydney. The city has so much shopping, trams, and culture. Everywhere you go and look there is something unique and different to see. I simply love it.

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