Green Party calls for refugee intake increase to 5000

  • 20/06/2017

On World Refugee Day, the Greens have announced a policy to see the annual refugee quota increased to 4000 over six years, and on top of that 1000 coming in through church and community sponsorship.

The party would also create a new visa category for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific, starting with 100 places a year.

At present the quota is 750, rising to 1000 next year.

The Greens have an existing policy of immediately doubling that, and Tuesday's announcement is a significant extension of that policy.

"The Green Party will immediately double New Zealand's refugee quota to 2000, then we will progressively increase the quota to 4000 over the next six years," it said.

"Over that time we will establish new resettlement locations across New Zealand and work with communities to build up the capacity of organisations that support new refugees and asylum seekers."

The Greens estimate their policy would cost $66 million in 2018, rising to $350m when the quota reaches 4000.

"To help pay for refugee resettlement, we will require high net worth immigrants who gain New Zealand residency under the Investor and Investor Plus categories to invest a portion of their required investments into building, maintaining, and running the refugee resettlement services," the party said in a statement.

Church and community sponsorship would expand to 1000 over the next three years.

The policy document says in Canada, tens of thousands of refugees are helped to resettle this way each year.

But Labour leader Andrew Little - the Greens' potential coalition partner - told The AM Show the number sounds "very high" to him, based on advice he's had.

"We've certainly supported a doubling of the refugee quota, because everybody tells us the facilities we've got now can cope with that.

"You've also got to be able to absorb refugees with good quality settlement in the communities where they go. I'd be wanting to be sure that the church groups, the organisations that help with refugee settlement, can do that.

"I don't want to be dismissive of what the Greens have done and the advice they've got, but instinctively it sounds like a big number for us to step up to, even in five or six years.

"But it's something we'd have a talk about with them. Of course we all want New Zealand to do its bit, with the humanitarian crises around the world."

The Government said last year it would run a trial sponsorship programme involving around 25 places.

It's still discussing the scheme with churches and other potential sponsors.

The Greens say New Zealand currently accept far fewer refugees per capita than many other countries.

"National's current meagre refugee quota stops us from living up to our morals and our reputation as a caring country - but we can change that," the party said.

"Accepting more refugees now, from the regions where the need is greatest, will make a significant difference for thousands of families."