Labour, Greens seek refugee quota law change

  • 04/09/2015

Labour and the Greens are going to ask Parliament to pass legislation that increases New Zealand's refugee quota.

On Tuesday they'll both present Bills and ask permission for them to be urgently debated.

The Government can easily block their attempts - an objection by a single MP can stop a member's Bill being introduced - but they'll be putting even more pressure on Prime Minister John Key.

Labour leader Andrew Little's Bill doubles the annual intake from 750 to 1500.

"We have the capacity to rescue 750 more refugees this year - we just need the will and the moral leadership to provide the resources to do it," he said today.

Green Party MP Denise Roche already has a Bill in the ballot to increase the quota to 1000 and she'll ask Parliament to allow it to be introduced.

They're responding to the crisis in Europe where thousands of refugees, mainly from Syria, are flooding across borders.

Most of them are trying to reach Germany, which expects to receive more than 800,000 refugees this year.

"If Parliament can pass urgent laws to allow bars to open all hours during the Rugby World Cup then Parliament can pass a law with similar urgency that can save desperate children and their families," Ms Roche said.

Political parties - including the Government's allies ACT, United Future and the Maori Party - have called for the quota to be increased.

It was set 28 years ago and is scheduled to be reviewed next year.

Mr Key has been reluctant to act quickly, but yesterday softened his stance.

"We're not ruling out looking at whether there's more we can possibly do earlier," he said.

"But we would want to be absolutely sure that was the right thing to do."

He's previously said the important thing is providing good wrap-around support services for refugees, and he would have to be convinced those services could be extended to cover greater numbers.