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Nats Warn Govt Against Undermining Australia

Nats Warn Govt Against Undermining Australia's Tough Stand On Illegal Immigration

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley today warned Helen Clark not to interfere with Australia's right to send a clear message that they don't want illegal immigrants to target Australia as a destination.

"New Zealanders need to be assured that if we were in a similar situation to Australia our Government would send clear and unequivocal messages that we don't support the smuggling of people and that illegal immigrants are not welcome.

"Ms Clark should only consider committing to becoming involved if the UN has exhausted any possibility of Australia, Indonesia and Norway finding a solution. Even then we should only consider taking a small number of these people if a significant number of Islamic and other countries also agree to be involved

"A humanitarian response to this unique situation must not be confused with the wider problem of the illegal trade of people.

"Helen Clark must make it clear whether the UN will establish who are genuine refugees, who are criminals, and who are economic refugees among the group, or whether New Zealand will be required to take that responsibility.

"If the latter is the case Ms Clark must assure New Zealanders these boat people will be detained on arrival in New Zealand until their status is established and that she will use the strict criteria laid down in the 1999 legislation. To do anything less sends a disastrous message which would open New Zealand up to criminals actively involved in people smuggling.

"In 1999 the National Government legislated in preparation for the arrival of a shipload of illegal immigrants. Rangipo Prison was prepared so they could be detained while their status was established and the interests of other New Zealanders protected.

"National remains determined to take whatever steps are necessary to make it clear that New Zealand will not be a soft touch for illegal immigrants. We welcome new New Zealanders who arrive here legally, we strongly condemn those who are involved in assisting illegal immigrants," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends

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