Log In

Reset Password

Honouring an election promise

Opinion Piece

The announcement that New Zealand will increase its refugee quota to 1500 from July 2020 is a triumph for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in more ways than one.

It means she can honour a promise that Labour made in its election campaign and it also shows that she has the skills needed to manage her diverse coalition government.

Ardern was understandably smiling as she joined New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway for the announcement.

Getting this through has not been straightforward by any means.

The policy seemed under threat only a short time ago when Peters said it was not set in concrete while there were New Zealanders in places like Northland who also needed help.

National, which raised the quota to the present 750 in July, claims some sort of deal must have been agreed to in order to get Peters on board, possibly involving the revised employment legislation which is a cornerstone Labour policy.

Both Ardern and Peters denied there has been a deal, something that will be proved or disproved in time. But it is a big plus for Ardern to be able to leave for the United Nations tomorrow with this feather in her cap giving her more credibility in that forum where incidentally she can expect to be more in the limelight following the birth of her daughter Neve.

The quota increase requires a lot of work before it comes into effect in July 2020 with an upgrade of the Mangere Centre needed and six settlement locations round New Zealand.

Lees-Galloway also said the present policy that provides 300 places a year for refugees to sponsor a family member will be reviewed. One sour aspect from the announcement was that the Greens, who have campaigned hardest for the quota increase, were not represented at the announcement.

Also, World Vision is pointing out that refugees from the Middle East and Africa cannot be resettled in New Zealand even if they have pre-existing family here. Considering that these two areas are the prime source of the refugees that have flooded Europe that exclusion does seem strange.