Govt's support parties join refugee quota call

  • 02/09/2015
ACT leader David Seymour (Simon Wong/3 News)
ACT leader David Seymour (Simon Wong/3 News)

By Peter Wilson

The Government's support parties have joined the opposition's call for more refugees to be accepted.

ACT and the Maori Party both say New Zealand should respond to the crisis in Europe by raising its refugee quota of 750 a year.

Labour, the Greens and United Future yesterday appealed for the quota to be lifted by at least 250.

ACT leader David Seymour says unprecedented numbers of people are fleeing northern hemisphere countries.

"I think the Government should respond to that situation," he said on Radio New Zealand, suggesting the quota could be increased to 1000.

"I certainly believe that's what we should be doing."

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox says New Zealand is in a position to take more refugees.

"We can easily cope with 1000, another 250 is not a lot," she said.

"We can certainly do our bit to assist."

Amnesty International is appealing to all countries to take more refugees, but Prime Minister John Key says decisions won't be taken until the quota comes up for a scheduled review next year.

"I think we should continue the process we are going through," he told reporters yesterday.

"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."

He says the important point is that the 750 now being accepted receive wrap-around support 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 heart-breaking and Mr Key's refusal to urgently increase the quota 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".