Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Refugee quota: What should NZ do?

UPDATED: Some facts about previous refugee intake was incorrect which has been corrected.

There are serious allegations that Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia may have authorized payment to people smugglers to turn back a boat headed towards us. Our own Prime Minister could not shine any light on the issue as per usual saying he didn't know and nor did he ask his counter-part. The refugee crisis exists worldwide and countries are being condemned for their inaction. So what should New Zealand do?

In New Zealand the refugee quota is 750 per year and the Greens are calling for that to be increased to 1,000. This should be welcome news for the left except for one little glitch. Last year and the year before, for example we met the quota. But the 4 years prior to that we did not meet the 750 quota. This begs the question - what is the point of increasing the refugee quota if we aren't even going to meet the existing quota?

According to Radio NZ, the government reviews its refugee quota every three years and the next review is slated for next year. However, Budget 2015/15 shows that that the government has already cut spending on refuges for the coming financial year. Essentially the government hasn't even allocated funds for the current level of refugees let alone increased refugees. At this point the government could easily give into the Greens and just raise the quota. Over at Curia, DPF is probably already polling the issue. But it won't make much material difference if we never actually meet the quota and fund it adequately.

Climate change refugees might be a looming issue and we as a country haven't decided how we will deal with that. It is time we adequately funded Immigration NZ to meet the existing refugee quota. Let's all agree that we aren't going to meet this illusive budget surplus and even if we did what is the cost of that surplus? Human lives perishing at sea or in the hands of people smugglers. Can we live with that?

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