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Key’s multicultural society excludes refugees

Key’s multicultural society excludes refugees

Recent comments by John Key show that his version of a multicultural New Zealand is one that ignores New Zealand’s responsibilities to refugees and other countries that host significantly more.

In response to Labour’s commitment to raise the refugee resettlement quota to 1000 places, John Key has said “I'm not sure we could cope with an increase."

But in early May, John Key contrasted his vision for a ‘multicultural, confident society’ with Labour’s immigration policy, saying that National put out the welcome mat for foreigners.

“New Zealand’s refugee quota was higher under David Lange,” said Doing Our Bit’s Murdoch Stephens. “When Key says he is ‘not sure we could cope’, he is either completely uninformed or being willingly xenophobic.”

In a recent NZ Herald OpEd, Stephens showed that New Zealand’s quota should increase because it hadn’t grown since 1987, asylum seeker numbers – the other half of the refugee equation – had dropped by hundreds of places, and that we rank as 88th in the world for hosting per capita.

According to documents released under the Official Information Act, it was also public comments by Key in 2013 that led to the 150 ‘transferee’ refugees from Australian detention centres being subtracted from the quota rather than added to it.

“When Key says that ‘we have big wrap-around services for refugees like housing and education’ he is treating them like a cost. Would he say the same about the education of other New Zealand kids?” asks Stephens. “With 43% of new refugees under 18, Key needs to consider quota refugees through an investment lens, not as the ghastly sinkhole that he invokes.”

“The simple fact is that the quota has not grown since the 1980s. My argument for doubling the quota is not based on soft hearts, but on an analysis of the facts and evidence,” said Stephens.

“It’s not that other countries do a little more than us, it’s that they host multiples of what we host. Every Swedish person does more than twenty times as much more for refugees than every New Zealander. If we double the quota they’d still be hosting more than ten times as many people per capita.”

The Greens and United Future also have policies of raising the refugee resettlement quota to 1000 places, though the Greens are yet to release their 2014 immigration policy.

Doing Our Bit (www.doingourbit.co.nz) aims to double New Zealand’s refugee quota and funding.


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