Labour remain intent on lifting refugee quota

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Labour remain intent on lifting New Zealand's refugee quota to 1,500 despite the differing stance from NZ First who say the coalition government have not promised to double refugee numbers. 

New Zealand's current annual refugee quota sits at 750 refugees.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway remain fixed on doubling that. 

Lees-Galloway says, "I'm going to work through the normal government processes as I seek to achieve that."

Ardern says, "Certainly that's something that I remain personally committed too."

However, Foreign Minister Winston Peters is of a different view.  Speaking to press in Nauru, Peters stated, "We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota."

The issue has been raised in time for Peters and Ardern's trip the Pacific Island Forum in Nauru this week, where hundreds of refugees are being detained in detention centres.

"I'm not here to litigate whether or not we should take on more refugees from here or anywhere else because that is in the control of the Australian and Nauruan governments,” says Peters.   

National lifted the refugee quota to 1,000 while in government.  Opposition leader Simon Bridges says it should remain that way.

"I think that's right, I think that balances our international obligation with our domestic obligations to integrate these people into New Zealand at significant costs actually for New Zealanders.

"I think what we're seeing though over the last couple of days is a clear rift in the government on this issue."

Peters told media, "We've got 50,000 people that are homeless back home.  I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland where people are living in degradation.”

“We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations at the level some people would like."

Greens Co-leader Marama Davidson disagrees.

“That’s his stance. The Greens support the prime minister in increasing the refugee quota here in New Zealand.”

The prime minister says the issue is subject to negotiation in cabinet.