Former New Zealand citizen Barnaby Joyce has told Kiwis to stop interfering with Australia’s offshore detention policies. The Australian Deputy Prime Minister appeared on New Zealand radio show Newstalk ZB last night, and issued a thinly veiled threat to Jacinda Ardern—although he didn't use her name.
“I think it’s best if you stay away from another country’s business,” Joyce said bluntly. “I find that, because otherwise they will return the favour at a time they think is most opportune for them.” What does he mean? What dirt does the Australian Government have on New Zealand, a beautiful paradise with a much cleaner human rights record than ours? Excited to find out.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been relatively vocal about Australia’s handling of its refugees, previously calling the Manus Island situation “unacceptable”. Ardern’s government has pledged almost $3 million in aid for the asylum seekers interned on Nauru and Manus. She has also offered to take at least 150 of these refugees off our hands and resettle them in New Zealand—Malcolm Turnbull has so far declined this generous offer.
You might say that New Zealand’s concern about the situation on Manus is warranted; human rights groups and medical professionals have expressed repeated concerns about the welfare of the refugees who have been detained there indefinitely, and are now in limbo following the detention centre closure. Numerous international media outlets, including the New York Times, have published stories about the poor conditions on Manus Island and Nauru.
Not New Zealand’s problem, though, as Joyce would have it. “Let’s respect countries’ sovereignty and let them sort out their own issues, and if you’re going to talk to them at all, talk to them quietly and discreetly off the record, not via telephone and not via TV,” he said in the interview. That’s how politics should happen, you see—behind closed doors, free of public scrutiny.
Joyce also discussed his citizenship status, giving the usual spiel about his proud Tamworth heritage and his regrets about the dual citizenship crisis. The Deputy PM and National Party leader was re-elected with an even greater majority at the recent Tamworth by-election, so in a way he actually benefited from the whole ordeal.
There's still no resolution to the Manus crisis, with the process of US resettlement progressing slowly and medical bodies urging the Turnbull government to provide refugees with urgent care.
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