Key: No increase for refugee quota

  • 01/09/2015
John Key (Photo: Simon Wong)
John Key (Photo: Simon Wong)

By Peter Wilson

New Zealand's refugee quota will stay at 750 a year, despite Opposition calls for more to be accepted.

Prime Minister John Key made that clear today after Labour, the Greens and United Future appealed for an urgent increase.

"I think we should continue the process we are going through," Mr Key told reporters.

"We will have a review in 2016. We will assess our capacity and capability and whether we think it's right to keep it at 750 or change it, and we will make the call."

The quota is reviewed every three years, and the next scheduled review is next year.

Amnesty International is appealing to all countries to take more refugees in response to the migration crisis in Europe.

Nearly 300,000 people are reported to have arrived in Europe so far this year, mostly from Africa and Syria, seeking refugee status.

Mr Key said on Monday there were no plans to increase the quota and he repeated that today.

"The general view is that 750 works well, on the balance of a number of factors, and that's been the wisdom of successive governments going back 28 years."

He says the important point is that the 750 receive wrap-around support services, and increasing the number could dilute those services.

"If we were to increase the number I would have to be convinced we could deliver the same level of support."

Labour leader Andrew Little says the crisis in Europe is "simply heart-breaking".

"There are now nine million refugees from Syria alone," he said today.

"Every country in the world needs to do its share and the Prime Minister's adamant refusal to lift our annual 750 refugee quota or consider a one-off special increase is disgraceful."

The Green Party's Denise Roche says New Zealanders are generous and instinctively want to help people in distress.

"Life could be transformed for another 250 desperate people if John Key mustered the compassion to help them," she said.

United Future leader Peter Dunne, a government minister, says there's a strong case for lifting the quota by "a modest number".

"We should be increasing the numbers we accept and running a more activist resettlement programme to help refugees who come to this country to settle in and make a positive contribution."