What they promised and what we got: The refugee quota

05062015. Credit: Adam Dudding/Fairfax NZ
Adult classes at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, where newly arrived refugees are schooled in the nuts and bolts of becoming a new New Zealander.

New Zealand’s refugee commitment before the election was to accept 750 refugees every year. The Labour NZ First and Greens coalition government have doubled the refugee quota.

It is time to revisit election promises with regards to refugees. Should we be surprised at the refugees’ number doubling? What exactly did Labour, the Greens and NZ First, National and Act promise before the election?

Which political parties policy has been implemented or is this a compromise between three different stances? Has NZ first moderated in any way Labour and the Greens’ stated refugee policies?

The Act Party on Immigration and New Zealand’s Refugee quota

The Act Party promised to increase the refugee quota in line with our population growth. They also wanted refugees to be required to sign a statement of commitment to New Zealand Values.

They promised to:

“allow private organisations to sponsor new refugees, putting up the money necessary to support their settlement and integration into the community. Our sponsorship policy would mean, for example, churches could put up money donated by their members to support refugees integrating into the community. For example, the Salvation Army may choose to sponsor only Christian-minority refugees from Muslim-majority countries.”

The National Party on Immigration and the refugee quota

The National party promised to increase the quota to 1000 a year and also to accept 600 refugees from Syria on a one-off basis. They also promised to continue to pilot the community sponsorship category for additional refugees.

New Zealand First on immigration and the refugee quota

NZ First was content with the status quo keeping the refugee quota at 750 but wanted the government to consult with local councils when deciding on refugee settlement locations.

The Green Party on immigration and the refugee quota

The Green Party promised to increase the refugee quota to 4000 a year PLUS increase the community sponsorship refugee category to 1000 places a year. They also wanted to build a second refugee settlement centre and to create a special visa category for Climate change refugees from the Pacific.

Labour Party on Immigration and the refugee quota

Labour’s promise on their political website prior to the election was to double the refugee quota to 1500 over three years.


Let’s compare all the Political parties’ refugee policies

So to summarise, NZ First supported the status quo of 750 refugees and didn’t want to increase it but National, Act, Labour and the Greens ALL wanted to increase it.

The Green party wanted to increase it the most to 5000 a year. The Labour Party wanted to double it to 1500 over three years. National in the first year was intending to bring in 1600 and then 1000 a year after that. Because they also supported the community sponsorship category we have no way of knowing how many additional refugees they would have brought in on top of this.

Act’s increase was tied to population growth but no example figure was given so we have no way of knowing if this would have meant more or less than Labour’s 1500 a year.

We can conclude that for the first year at least Labour will be bringing in fewer refugees than National would have. We can also conclude that the excesses of the Greens have been totally curbed and they have been unable to influence the government’s quota at all. Was this because NZ first stopped them? We have no way of knowing. All we know for sure is that Labour has fulfilled their promise to New Zealand and have delivered exactly what they promised to deliver.

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