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Refugee Politics

Monday 6 May 2002

ACT leader Richard Prebble has accused the Prime Minister of engaging in refugee politics.

"Helen Clark, in order to win political points with the Indonesian government, has agreed that New Zealand will take queue-jumping refugees.

"The government says people-smuggling deserves a 20-year prison sentence - in other words, it's twice as bad as murder - yet people who have paid the people-smugglers to queue-jump them, are going to be rewarded with New Zealand residence and eventual citizenship," Mr Prebble said.

"This is the worst way to select New Zealand citizens. We should be asking whether refugees have the skills to be able, within a reasonable time, to be economically self-sufficient. Otherwise, these 140 refugees may, over the next 30 years, cost New Zealand taxpayers more than $30 million in welfare, health and housing.

"When there are millions of refugees who have not queue-jumped - and many have the skills to become valuable New Zealand citizens - the PM's actions are shameful.

"Suggestions in the media that we are also going to take 147 refugees from Nauru, who presumably have been turned down for Australia, further show how Ms Clark is using the refugee issue for diplomatic reasons.

"It's a short-term gain for a long-term loss.

"New Zealand residence is something the government should prize, not regard as the gift of politicians," Mr Prebble said.

ENDS

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