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Review a chance to show humanitarian colours

24 May 2005

Immigration review a chance to show humanitarian colours

The Government's newly announced review of the Immigration Act is an opportunity for establishing New Zealand's international humanitarian credentials and rejecting the xenophobia of NZ First, says Green Party Immigration Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

Immigration Minister Paul Swain has today released the terms of reference for a review of the 1987 Immigration Act, with the aim of making it more relevant to today's international environment.

"It is critical that this review is in no way a response to Winston Peters' radical views on who should and shouldn't be let into New Zealand," said Mrs Turei.

"Hopefully this will lead to a reasoned approach based on principle and the real security of New Zealand. The first task of Mr Swain's review should therefore be to identify whether or not we are meeting our international humanitarian obligations and suggesting necessary changes where we fall short.

"The Greens welcome a sound public consultation process, but call on Mr Swain to ensure that Maori, as tangata whenua, have a key role in the development of the policy. To do otherwise would show a complete lack of regard for the Treaty.

"We believe our immigration system should be based on a regard for human rights, balanced against our own ecological limitations. So fair and properly managed family re-unification refugee quotas are vitally important. We also hope this review will look at the category list to ensure that a broader range of skills are considered when people are applying to come here," said Mrs Turei

The Green Party's Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke is warning that the review could easily get carried away with security concerns.

"We haven't had any terrorists come here or any security problems of consequence," said Mr Locke.

"If anything there is a need to speed up visa approvals, not put in extra layers of checking. There are big problems now for visitors from poorer countries.

"For example, just last week a delegation of five Kenyan MPs, hosted by our Parliament, had to change their air bookings at the last moment because of delays in approving their visitor visas at our embassy in Pretoria. Meanwhile the thousands-strong Barmy Army will be able stream in unhindered without this type of scrutiny," said Mr Locke

ENDS

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