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Soft touch immigration policy costing Kiwis

Hon Tony Ryall MP National Party Immigration Spokesman

22 February 2005

Soft touch immigration policy costing Kiwis millions

National Party Immigration spokesman Tony Ryall says New Zealand is being haunted by Labour's chaotic immigration policies with taxpayers forking out over $2 million for care of the so-called 'Tampa boys'.

"In the past three years, it has cost the Kiwi taxpayer nearly $2 million to feed, clothe and house most of the 40 'Tampa boys' who entered New Zealand at the welcome of Helen Clark. No wonder New Zealand has a reputation as a soft touch for refugees.

"CYFS can't even give a hand to some of our own country's at risk children, but here's the taxpayer paying out again for Helen Clark's foolish mistake of accepting Tampa boat people as refugees. That money should have been spent on New Zealand kids," says Mr Ryall.

The new figures have been provided as answers to written Parliamentary questions and do not include income support, education or other costs.

Answers to earlier questions show 31 of the Tampa boys have sponsored in 207 of their relatives to New Zealand. In one example, according to figures supplied by Paul Swain, three unaccompanied minors have sponsored 11 people each!

"National warned Labour that it would be opening the door to a much larger group of refugees and forcing taxpayers to carry the cost. That is now precisely the case. The Tampa refugees have already cost the Immigration Service well over $2 million.

"The whole process is costing the taxpayer millions of dollars and all the time the situation in Afghanistan is improving. If Helen Clark had waited a week or so, these Tampa people could have been sent back to their homes instead of coming here.

"Put these figures together with Government reports that show 80% of refugees remain on a benefit after five years of living in New Zealand, and the costs start to add up.

"Throughout this process the Labour Government has vastly underestimated the cost of dealing with these asylum seekers while leaving the rest of us to pay the bills," says Mr Ryall.

National has said it will cut the number of refugees accepted into the country.

ENDS

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