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Four Former Prime Ministers Join Forces for Refugees

Four Former Prime Ministers Join Forces for Refugees


Auckland, Monday 31 July 2017 – In a rare display of political unanimity four former Prime Ministers of New Zealand are calling politicians from all parties to welcome 500 more refugees immediately. The call comes in supporting of the ‘Welcome #500Now’ campaign, which launched this month.

“There are no rational arguments against us being more generous: none at all,” says Jim Bolger, New Zealand’s 35th Prime Minister. “We can do it. We can afford it. And we can offer that hand of welcome and friendship.”

Bolger has been joined by Helen Clark, former head of the United Nations Development Programme; legal scholar, Sir Geoffrey Palmer; and former World Trade Organisation Director-General and US Ambassador, Mike Moore. They all support the initiative based on their experience as Prime Minister and the broader international perspectives they have embraced after leaving office.

Tracey Barnett, founder of the ‘Welcome #500 Now’ campaign, describes the initiative as an opportunity to rise above party politics. The campaign calls on each candidate in this year’s election to publicly declare they will agree to welcome 500 refugees immediately, if they are elected.

“The campaign emphasises immediacy and urgency because it’s too easy to do otherwise,” she says. “Unless they promise to do something now politicians can procrastinate, defer, discuss, delay and generally kick the can down the road for several years until the quota is reviewed. Desperate people can’t afford that luxury.

“When four former Prime Ministers from different parties and different eras come together and speak with one voice about an issue, we should all listen. They are asking people to put party politics aside and recognise a larger humanitarian imperative.”

The call comes at a time when the number of refugees is growing at a greater rate than ever before, and when New Zealand’s response seems markedly inadequate. We rank 95th in the world in terms of refugees and asylum seekers hosted per capita and 122nd relative to our GDP.

Addressing the disparity, Mike Moore, doesn’t mince his words: “Shame on us. We basically think we’re better than we are. But we’re not.”

To show support for the campaign, follow these simple steps:

1. Write #500Now on your palm

2. Hold out your hand and take a photo. Include your friends, colleagues, family, workmates or teammates.

3. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with the hashtag #500Now

4. Then email it to the Prime Minister, party leaders and your MP and ask, ‘Will you commit to welcoming 500 refugees immediately, if elected.?’


About #500Now
#500now is a new initiative aimed at asking candidates across all parties at this year’s election to commit to taking 500 more refugees now. These efforts will focus on raising New Zealand’s refugee intake immediately, while highlighting how significantly refugees enrich New Zealand.
Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wagepeacenz, or visit our website: https://wagepeacenz.org/500now/

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