Judith Collins plans to grill Jacinda Ardern on Behrouz Boochani's refugee status

National leader Judith Collins plans to grill Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Behrouz Boochani being given refugee status when they go head-to-head in Parliament. 

Immigration New Zealand revealed on Friday that Boochani - a Kurdish journalist from Iran who fled persecution and ended up in an offshore Australian detention centre - had been granted asylum in New Zealand. 

The Green Party welcomed Boochani being granted refugee status, with human rights and immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman - an Iranian refugee herself - describing it as demonstrating the "strength of our country". 

But Collins is sceptical about the process around Boochani's acceptance as a refugee, telling Magic Talk on Monday she plans to raise it when she goes up against the Prime Minister in Parliament. 

"Yes, absolutely," Collins said. "I'm sick to death of this stuff. It looks like to all of us a very, very interesting situation that needs a bit more blowtorch on it."

Boochani arrived in Christchurch in November with a one-month visa to attend a literacy festival. He made global headlines after vowing never to return to the Manus Island detention centre on Papua New Guinea he was once imprisoned in. 

But Boochani ended up staying longer, and National's immigration spokesperson Stuart Smith suggested Boochani's ties to the Green party won him political favour - a notion rejected by Ghahraman back in May as "baseless". 

Smith, MP for Kaikōura, questioned whether Boochani truly intended to leave New Zealand after a month because he told the ABC he had no intention of returning to Papua New Guinea. 

Boochani told the ABC he may apply for asylum in New Zealand.  

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Boochani was not welcome there, telling Sky News Australia: "He wouldn't be permitted to come to Australia - we've been very clear about that."

Behrouz Boochani, 37.
Behrouz Boochani, 37. Photo credit: Getty

The office of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi on Friday directed questions about Boochani's refugee status to Immigration New Zealand. 

Faafoi became Immigration Minister last week after Iain Lees-Galloway was stripped of all ministerial portfolios by the Prime Minister after she revealed he'd had an affair with a former staffer. 

Lees-Galloway's office told Newshub in May he could not comment on Boochani's case because of both legal and privacy reasons. 

Under section 151 of the Immigration Act, confidentiality must be maintained in respect of claimants, refugees, and protected people.  

Collins said the decision to grant Boochani refugee status needs a "good looking at". 

"I don't know how this guy got his refugee status. I think it needs a good looking at and I can't understand why he got pushed ahead of everyone else who's applied for refugee status," she told Magic Talk.  

"He seems to me to have come here on a very dodgy idea of some sort of author's visa or something. Well I'm an author too, and I can tell you I don't think anyone's going to give me a special visa."

Boochani was accepted for asylum in the United States as part of a deal with Australia to resettle refugees from detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, an island northeast of Australia. 

New Zealand has a long-standing offer to accept 150 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, but Australia has refused, citing concern over New Zealand being used as a backdoor to Australia. 

Who is Behrouz Boochani?

Boochani gained global attention for his book No Friend but the Mountains, which he wrote using a smuggled smartphone, detailing his experience as a refugee on Manus Island.  

He painstakingly uploaded short video segments for Dutch-Iranian filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani to edit into a feature-length documentary that showed audiences a glimpse behind Australia's secretive facilities.  

Boochani fled to Australia in 2013 from Iran after he promoted Kurdish language and culture in the media, and was accused of undermining the Iranian state. 

He arrived at the Australian territory of Christmas Island via people smugglers, hoping to be given asylum. But he was instead transferred to Manus Island and denied asylum because of Australia's laws against boat arrivals.