Refugee quota boost may not help Syrians – Collins

 cross the border between Serbia and Macedonia in the village of Miratovac (AAP)
cross the border between Serbia and Macedonia in the village of Miratovac (AAP)

Judith Collins says if the Government agrees to up the refugee quota, that doesn't necessarily mean Syrians fleeing their war-torn homeland will be the ones to benefit.

There has been growing pressure in recent days on the Government to raise the quota for the first time since 1987. Scenes of thousands of refugees held back at the borders to the EU, and a widely shared photograph of a toddler who drowned in a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean have shocked the world.

New Zealand's refugee quota has been 750 since 1987. Every party in Parliament except National has called for it to be raised, potentially to 1000 or 1500.

But Ms Collins, MP for Pakuranga, says if the quota was raised, people might be disappointed when the spots aren't filled by Syrians.

"Other people have been waiting years to get in to anywhere that will take them," she said this morning on the Paul Henry programme.

The current crisis is the worst the world has ever faced, with almost 60 million people displaced by conflicts around the world. Nearly 8 million of those are Syrian, more than a third of the entire country's population.

UNICEF says many have been walking for months, and are suffering from dehydration and exhaustion.

Prime Minister John Key says he is taking advice on whether New Zealand can and should accept more refugees, which Ms Collins says is the right course of action.

"One of the reasons that we have such a good record with refugees in New Zealand is that we really resettle people properly," she says.

"We get people into housing, we bring in people we can cope with, and we make sure they're genuine refugees. We get them English training, we get them jobs, we get them housing, we help people to resettle. And we don't just have people in camps. We actually do the job properly."

Labour deputy leader Annette King, also on Paul Henry this morning, said it was "ridiculous" to suggest New Zealand couldn't handle another 250 refugees.

"Do you remember the Tampa boys and the Afghanis? In the end we brought 400 of them in. They have turned out to be fantastic settlers to New Zealand. We can do it if we want to."

New Zealand often ends up bringing in a few hundred more than the quota because of the family reunification policy. Ms King says it's important to make sure this stays even if the quota is boosted.

"If you bring in their family, many of them are in camps, you've got a family to help settle them. That's what really works."

Amnesty International wants the quota raised to 1500, as do social media activists using the hashtag #doublethequota on Twitter. The Greens have drafted a Bill to make it 1000.

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