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ACT Calls For Review Of Refugee Approval Process

ACT leader Richard Prebble has called for a fundamental review of the way the New Zealand government handles refugee applications, after the UN decision that most of the Tampa boat people on Nauru are not genuine refugees.

"The UN's decision is evidence that the 131 Tampa asylum seekers granted refugee status by the New Zealand government would not qualify today," Mr Prebble said.

"This is outcome was not only foreseeable but I also predicted it.

"The Labour government's decision to rush through the approval process was ill-considered and motivated by short-term politics. Labour wanted to gain international kudos by rapidly approving the boat people's applications - in contrast with Australia.

"I pointed out that the government's decision was in conflict with the way it dealt with refugee applications after the coup in Fiji. In that case, the government gave asylum-seekers temporary permits while waiting to see how the situation developed in Fiji. It turned out that no Fiji asylum seekers were given refugee status because the situation in Fiji is now safe.

"It was obvious last year that the American-led force in Afghanistan was likely to overthrow the Taliban regime, and the sensible thing to do was to wait before granting refugee status to the Tampa boat people.

"All the New Zealand government has done is reward queue-jumpers and people-smugglers, while depriving 131 genuine refugees the opportunity to come to New Zealand," Mr Prebble said.


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