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Clark's Mixed Messages To Migrant Communities

Prime Minister Helen Clark's handling of the Tampa refugee crisis will send extremely mixed messages to New Zealand's migrant communities, says United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne.

"At one level, there will be strong support for the way in which New Zealand has reacted to this refugee crisis, particularly in view of the indifference of the Australians, and the mounting humanitarian crisis that was developing on the Tampa."

"There will be a sense of relief that New Zealand was able to play in breaking the stalemate, and helping resettle the people concerned."

"However, at another level, there will be many migrant families left feeling very frustrated."

"They will be the people who waited a long time - years in some cases - to gain admission to New Zealand, and who have hard to battle the Immigration Service bureaucracy all the way to gain residence here."

"They will now be wondering why they had to go through so many hoops, when the Tampa refugees have had their cases fast-tracked because they have been in the glare of international publicity."

"And then there will be those with either family and relatives they are struggling to keep in New Zealand with them, because they are on visitors visas about to expire which the Government will not extend; or, who have been trying unsuccessfully to get family or relatives to be able to join them here, who will be wondering why there is one law for them and a different law for those on the Tampa," Mr Dunne says.

Mr Dunne says Labour is now smugly boasting around Wellington that Helen Clark's actions on the Tampa refugees have "sown up" the migrant vote for Labour at the next election.

"Apart from the lack of principle and cynical manipulation this attitude shows, it also fails to acknowledge that Labour's actions have left many new migrants wondering why the Tampa refugees deserve special treatment, at the expense of their families and relatives, who are still struggling to come to this country," Mr Dunne says.

Ends

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