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Winston Peters misleads

4 November 2004

Winston Peters misleads

Winston Peters’ comments in the House yesterday about New Zealand’s refugee quota system were inaccurate and misleading, says RMS Resettlement director Peter Cotton.

“He chose to hide behind Parliamentary Privilege to attack a former Somali refugee seeking to bring members of her family to New Zealand. At the same time he blatantly misrepresented the Government's response to refugees, suggesting that each refugee accepted in New Zealand's small annual quota (750) was likely to be followed by an additional 14 family members.

“The truth about refugee family reunion is very different and deserves to be heard. We have a long, proud history of responding to refugees beginning in 1944 with the arrival of some 700 Polish orphaned children. The Polish community celebrated the 60th anniversary of that arrival just last week and these first arrivals and their descendants have gone on to contribute to every sector of our society. The same is true of many subsequent groups of refugees who’ve become part of our increasingly culturally rich and diverse society.

“Of the more than 11 million refugees in the world today New Zealand offers the hope of a new future to 750 each year. Those selected to come here are refugees identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as being in the greatest need of international protection and who can’t return to their own country or safely remain where they are.

“It’s obvious to everybody that we all benefit from having the support and love of our family members. On this basis it’s the policy of both the UN and our own government to accept entire dependent family groups within the annual quota.

“Mr. Peter’s assertion that one quota refugee equals 14 other family members is pure nonsense. Within the annual quota, NZ makes special provision for a small number of ‘Women-at-Risk’ who are frequently survivors of sexual abuse, multiple loss and trauma. Where it’s possible to locate surviving family members of such cases, they may be admitted to New Zealand, however, they are normally admitted as part of the 750 cases, not in addition to them.

“Since the removal of New Zealand's longstanding Humanitarian Category in October 2001, the only other avenue for refugees to seek residence for additional family members is to enter a random draw for the 300 places allocated by Government each year for refugee family reunion.

“Mr Peter’s made the same misleading comments about the quota last week. Just because he chooses to repeat his inaccuracies does not make them right!”


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