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Refugee benefit dependency a Labour disgrace

Hon Tony Ryall

National Immigration Spokesman

25 August 2004

Refugee benefit dependency a Labour disgrace

Dumping refugees onto a benefit is nothing for which the Government should be proud, says National's Immigration spokesman, Tony Ryall.

A report into refugees in New Zealand shows that after two years 90% of them are still on welfare and after five years 80% are on welfare.

In Parliament today, Immigration Minister Paul Swain said New Zealanders should be proud of the way refugees are treated here.

New Zealand has an annual quota of 750 refugees who are referred by the United Nations, a further quota of refugee family members and then there are 'spontaneous' refugees.

On top of this, refugees can sponsor more family members under the general family scheme.

"For example, 14 of the so-called 'Tampa boys' have sponsored at least 109 of their family members into New Zealand," says Mr Ryall.

"Clearly, the Government is taking on more than they can handle, when two years down the track 90% of refugees are still dependent on welfare.

"What's the point of bringing refugees to New Zealand if Labour isn't prepared to give them the skills to enable them to contribute to society?

"As a good citizen of the international community, we do have a responsibility to take a number of genuine refugees, but we should be making sure we help them play a productive role in the community.

"If we took smaller numbers we could put more resources into ensuring that a life on welfare isn't the best we have to offer.

"National says New Zealand should take fewer refugees and put more resources into getting them off welfare and into work," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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