Media should be open about refugee crisis, not cover it

Dr Muriel Newman

Over recent weeks, the plight of Manus Island refugees and the Prime Minister’s offer to take 150 of them has been dominating the news.

The media’s obsession with the refugee issue is reminiscent of their incessant promotion of Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party in the run up to the election.

It has only been since the Australian media released details from the Papua New Guinea authorities outlining how the Manus Island detainees regularly travel into town to allegedly have sex with underage girls – some as young as 10 – and buy and sell drugs, that some balance has finally entered the news coverage.

Indecent behaviour

Given the interest of the New Zealand media in this issue, quite why they didn’t find and publish this information – which was reported to the Australian Government in mid-October – is not clear. The 161 offences the detainees are alleged to have committed include sexual assault, assault and aggressive behaviour.

If our media had been doing their job, they would have provided New Zealanders with balanced reporting from the outset. That would have indicated there are serious problems in taking these men.

Rights of asylum-seekers

What was also not reported by our media was the fact that under normal circumstances, every asylum seeker has access to accommodation, utilities, food, and a fortnightly allowance. They are free to visit nearby villages to shop, to go to the beach and to mix with locals. In addition, they are able to apply for permanent resettlement in PNG at any time.

Australia’s position on this matter in understandable.

The Australian Government has always refused New Zealand’s offers to take boat refugees for the very good reason that we could be used as a backdoor route into that country – unless visas are re-introduced for Trans-Tasman travel.

Hardline approach

The concern is that if any of the refugees did end up in Australia, it could trigger resumption of the disastrous people smuggling trade that led to the deaths of over 1200 asylum seekers before the hardline approach was adopted.

Australia now has a strict policy of turning back asylum seekers’ boats to discourage them from even trying to reach Australia. Not only that, any asylum seeker, who manages to arrive by boat, is banned from ever being settled in Australia.

Instead, they are held in detention camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, from where any genuine refugees are given the option of being resettled, but not in Australia. Alternatively, they can opt to be returned to their home country.

Our Prime Minister should stop meddling in Australian affairs. An offer has been made and that’s where it should lie. And the media should provide balanced reporting, not try to exert influence through PR campaigns masquerading as news.

Biased reporting

Biased media reporting is also a concern of this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Barry Brill, a former Cabinet Minister and the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, who has raised concerns about the recent escalation of global warming propaganda by the media:

“In November every year, most of our mainstream media subject us all to saturation coverage of the evils of ‘climate change’ (by which they mean dangerous anthropogenic global warming).

“This is no coincidence. At this time of year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change holds its annual ‘Conference of the Parties,’ which is attended by large delegations from every government in the world, along with tens of thousands of acolytes.

This year, COP 23 was hosted and chaired by Fiji, but was held in Bonn, Germany.

“But the annual media splurge is not about the COP itself. It comes before-hand, and is a softening-up-the-public process meant to assure the delegates that we are all cheering them on. It’s quite like sending an army battalion off to a popular war.”

Choregraphed campaign

Barry speculates at the origins of this global PR campaign: “It is obviously choreographed. All media know when and how to begin campaigning, and all sing from the same hymn sheets.  Somebody – Fenton Communications in New York (?) – wields the conductor’s baton and the world’s media devotees reliably deliver the goods. Rampant ‘noble cause corruption’ is in the driver’s seat, and tribal solidarity rules. Media boards/owners know better that to get in the way.”

The climate series on TV One’s news bulletins earlier this month was so unbalanced in the opinion of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition that they have lodged a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Situation in Fiji

The first programme claimed that a village in Fiji had to be relocated because of rising sea levels due to man-made global warming.

What the story did not explain was that the first calls to move that small coastal settlement had come 70 years ago, well before the socialists had found environmentalism and invented man-made global warming.

At the time, the village elders had become concerned at the continual erosion of the foreshore, the widening of the river’s mouth, and the salinisation of the soil as surges swept seawater through their fields during king tides. The problems became so acute that they began discussing the relocation of the village to another site, but back then no money was available for such a project.

Dr Muriel Newman is Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based free weekly Newsletter, NZCPR Weekly. The above article is an edited version that appeared in her weekly edition dated November 26, 2017 and has been reproduced here with her permission. For full text, please visit

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