This week, I’ve had several more groups and individual migrant workers tell me about how their rights are being abused by exploitative employers. Sub-minimum wages, long hours, substandard accommodation. They’re caught in a trap. Report the employer, and their work visa or residence is invalid and they are punished by being sent home : don’t report the employer and they continue to put up with the unacceptable.
The outcome? Labour and immigration laws are flouted with impunity, Kiwi jobs, wages and conditions are undermined, good employers doing the right thing get annoyed and our reputation for fairness takes another hit.
So, what’s our government doing?
Instead, it’s returned to its let’s copy Australia bill, the Immigration Amendment Bill, which now has the votes to get through and is likely to be debated next week.
According to John Key, we face the imminent threat of a mass arrival of asylum seekers. He wants us to be fearful that a handful of people might, (but probably won’t) arrive in a leaky boat any day now.
John Key said he was vindicated this week when a boat from Sri Lanka arrived in Western Australia, flying a New Zealand flag and holding a sign saying they wanted to come to New Zealand.
Apart from the sheer impossibility of reaching New Zealand in a treacherous journey, John Key doesn’t appear to even understand the basics.
The rules are strict under the UNHCR convention. A person must request asylum at the earliest opportunity. It is impossible to arrive in Australia, as the Sri Lankans did this week and seek asylum in New Zealand.
Anyone claiming they want to come to New Zealand via the Australian coast by boat cannot apply for asylum here and if they did, they would become ineligible.
It’s gotten desperate when the reasonable voices in Australia include Malcolm Fraser, former Conservative Prime Minister, who says the claims of successive Australian governments are designed to justify a policy of brutality.
Former National Party Immigration Minister, Aussie Malcolm, says John Key’s actions in agreeing to take 150 Australian refugee as part of our quota is a tragedy.
This is a stupid bill. Parliament will waste time on it. It will pass by one vote and our reputation as a good international citizen will take a hit because the John Key government thinks it’s okay to copy the Aussies and put asylum seekers in detention centers.
The boat people will likely never arrive.
But the migrants who are already here will see the exploitation go on and on.
The government is turning a blind eye.
Which is the greater threat to New Zealand?
Update : This in today’s SST