The Quiet War on Asylum

Bridget Williams Books
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‘To the outside world looking in—indeed, to most countries that
deal with tens of thousands of refugees annually—it may have seemed
outright puzzling. When John Key stepped up to the lectern of his press
conference and announced he was introducing mandatory group detention
for ‘mass’ boat-arriving asylum seekers to Kiwi shores, there was one
confounding detail missing. New Zealand has never had a boatload of
asylum seekers in modern history. None.’

Why would a country
that has never had a boatload of asylum arrivals in modern history
suddenly legislate for mass detention? Geographically isolated and
previously a world leader in fair treatment of refugees, New Zealand has
abruptly changed tack.

Treading across the refugee camps of
Burma and Thailand, to Australia’s detention centres and back to New
Zealand, columnist Tracey Barnett looks hard at this controversial new
policy. She speaks to asylum seekers, refugees, NGO workers and migrants
– people on the move and on the ground. Their lives and stories reveal a
reality far more complex than the political rhetoric, and one that
questions just how fair and ethical New Zealand really is on the world
stage today.


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About the author

Tracey Barnett has been a contributing columnist for The New Zealand Herald, The Sunday Star Times, The Christchurch Press and The Listener, among others. She is an occasional television and radio commentator for TV3’s Campbell Live, Three60, Radio Live and formerly Media 3. Her commentary work has been published in ten countries.

Tracey has also written and spoken against instituting mandatory detention of asylum seekers in New Zealand and created the campaign, “We Are Better Than That”. She is an advocate for pursuing an independent policy course on refugee issues from our Australian neighbours.

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Additional Information

Bridget Williams Books
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Published on
Dec 5, 2013
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