Churches call for refugee quota increase

  • 07/09/2015

New Zealand's two largest churches are adding their voices to the chorus of calls to increase the country's refugee quota.

Following heart-breaking images of a Syrian toddler washing up on a Turkish beach and thousands of refugees trying to reach Germany, calls have been increasing for New Zealand to take more than the 750 refugees each year.

The quota has remained unchanged since 1987.

The Catholic Church's Cardinal John Dew and the Anglican Church's Archbishop Philip Richardson say they believe there is a need for "an urgent collective response".

"The response is Government-led and can involve communities and churches working together," they said in a statement.

The two leaders say they wish to demonstrate the collective nature of the response together during a press conference in Wellington today.

Over the weekend, mayors, the Medical Association, Oxfam, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy and others called on the Government to increase the quota.

The National Party's youth wing and the party's allies - ACT, United Future and the Maori Party - have all called for a review of the quota.

Labour and the Greens will submit a bill tomorrow to increase the cap to 1500.

The Government has said it is still considering all its options on how to contribute.

"We need to take advice on that to ensure any decision made can be backed up with the same level of support and assurances we give to other refugees," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said.