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Those without hearts attack those without homes

26 August, 2004

Politicians without a heart attack people without a home

Green MP, Keith Locke says the continued barrage of attacks on the number of refugees taken in by New Zealand is a shameful indictment on the xenophobia and heartlessness of some politicians.

"I refuse to believe that New Zealanders have become so cold-hearted that we would refuse a home to even the few hundred refugees a year that we now accept, when some 20 million people around the world have been displaced and are living in misery," said Mr Locke, the Green Human Rights spokesperson.

"How can National and New Zealand First demand we turn our back on people who have suffered torture, lost their families to starvation and massacre and been driven from their homes?

"We should be taking more refugees, not less. In 2003 we accepted a mere 821 refugees (654 from our international 'quota' and 167 asylum seekers). Compared to the poverty-stricken places these people have come from we are a wealthy society, and we can take more.

"The difficulty refugees have in obtaining jobs here is largely our problem, not theirs. Having accepted them, we have a duty to help them integrate into our society by giving them the appropriate English language and skills training, and by helping them gain employment.

"The Greens welcome the extra money in this year's Budget to help do this.

"As global citizens we must take in those escaping from oppressive regimes. While we don't accept refugees out of self-interest, our compassion is often rewarded. Many of the Jews who fled here from Hitler's Germany, for example, have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand society.

"National once claimed it stood for a 'decent society'," said Mr Locke. "There's nothing decent about it's latest slogan. Welcome to Dr Brash's 'heartless society'."

ENDS

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