New Zealand has signed the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration which seeks to make immigration a universal human right.
Australia refused to sign the compact with Prime Minister Scott Morrison believing doing so would “compromise Australia’s interest” because “It doesn’t distinguish between those who illegally enter Australia and those who come the right way”. The United States was another key non-signatory.
Key concerns about the agreement is that it is designed to be the legal framework on which the participating countries commit themselves to build new legislation around orderly migration.
It also requires governments to “promote independent, objective and quality” reporting on migration and cutting “support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants”.
New Zealand’s current Prime Minister Labour’s Jacinda Ardern has already increased the nation’s annual refugee intake from 750 to 1000 and has promised to increase it further to 1500. She also wants to accept 150 men from Australia’s processing centre on Manus Island. So her desiring to a sign such a migration agreement is no surprise.
However Ardern is in Coalition with the nationalist party New Zealand First whose leader Winston Peters is Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Peters has defended the Government signing the migration pact arguing it won’t undermine New Zealand’s national sovereignty.
He argued in a radio interview “as a matter of principal it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign up to the agreement” claiming it was really about “trying to stop the awful human trafficking of people, and the corruption of people. These are dreadful things which are happening around the world.
Then bizarrely for a nationalist leader Peters blamed the local alt-right community for the amount of criticism the pact was receiving “You have a campaign strategy by the alt-right to try and spread misinformation on this, it is just not true.”
Despite receiving criticism from even his own party members, Peters was defiant “Just because there have been people dog whistling false information on this, that doesn’t mean we will sway.”
New Zealand’s decision should concern Australia given the migration agreement we have with our Tasman neighbour which allows New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to live and work in Australia. It is the main reason why the Australia Government has not accepted New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 men from Manus Island.
Certainly nationalists in New Zealand have a right to feel betrayed given not only has their supposed political leader betrayed them in a key area of pubic policy but has accused them of spreading fake news.