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Green refugee policy brings NZ into line with Australia


Green refugee policy brings NZ into line with Australia, Canada

Any shock at the Green party policy to increase the refugee quota to 4000 places should focus on why our intake has been so low for so long.

Increasing the refugee quota to 4000, with an additional 1000 places for community sponsorship would put New Zealand alongside countries like Australia, Canada and Ireland in hosting refugees. We’d be above Trump’s USA, but still well below the number of refugees accepted by Scandinavian countries.

“We work from a very simple principle: we should do our fair share. The Green policy is the first time in our history that a party has made a refugee policy based on a fair share with like countries,” says Murdoch Stephens of Doing Our Bit – the organisation that began the double the refugee quota campaign.

Stephens suggests that far too often the principles of protection are sacrificed based on premature evaluations of capacity or will.

“I think everyone – MPs, citizens and refugees – can agree that we should pull our weight compared to other countries. If we accept that then we need to think about how we make it work: instead of selling all those 3-4 bedroom state houses, why not resettle refugees where we have that capacity. Unlike other migrants, refugees are resettled where the government chooses – we can make this win-win with planning and goodwill.”

Other aspects of the Green policy shine a welcome light on the National party’s Trump-like ban on new refugees from Africa and the Middle East (with the exception of family reunification and emergency places).

“We’re also particularly pleased that National’s discriminatory policies that have significantly diminished African and Middle Eastern refugee numbers is called out. We should resettle refugees least likely to survive prolonged displacement as determined by the UN, not giving in to fear or prejudice,” says Stephens.

In documents released under the Official Information Act, MBIE had recommended to the government to allow new refugees to come to New Zealand from Africa and the Middle East, but that advice was ignored by Cabinet in their June 2016 review (see p.63 here).

By Australian standards the Green policy would put New Zealand in line with the Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party of Australia. By contast the Australian Greens are proposing accepting 50,000 and the Australian Labour party are advocating for 27,000.

Stephens is also speaking at a protest at Parliament with speakers from 12.30pm today, World Refugee Day, June 20th. He will be joined by Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth and Syrian refugee and Victoria University of Wellington PhD student Karam Shaar in inviting politicians to pledge to doubling the refugee quota.

ENDS

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