Prime Minister calls for doubling refugee quota

The AM Show 11/09/2018

Jacinda Ardern says she wants to "double the quota" of refugees coming to New Zealand, putting her back on a collision course with Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

Appearing on The AM Show on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said she was staying firm on Labour's campaign promise and her offer to take refugees from the Nauru detention centre.

"I want to double the quota," she told host Duncan Garner.

"That is my intention, the offer's on the table, and Australia hasn't removed that offer.

"As long as there are refugees waiting to be resettled it hasn't moved on and as long as New Zealand's offer is on the table it hasn't moved on."

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has consistently said he'll raise the quota in this term of Government.

"It is still my intention to see an increase in the refugee quota to 1500," he said in July.

But last week, Mr Peters poured cold water on his plans.

"There is a coalition government, and that coalition Government did not promise to double the refugee numbers," he said.

"We've agreed to take it to 1000... but we've made no announcement to double it.

"I can show you parts of 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."

Ms Ardern said Mr Lees-Galloway was just repeating a Labour policy, and changing the numbers would mean going through Cabinet - which would mean dealing with Mr Peters.

"As with everything, Duncan, we have a Cabinet process to go through and I expect we'll be doing that soon," she told Garner.

"We're working through it as a team, Duncan. This is what MMP is and it's nothing unusual."

She might also face problems from her left. Golriz Ghahraman, New Zealand's first refugee MP, says the Greens want to go even further - gradually increasing to reach 6000 refugees a year.

The Government already made a cash commitment to the quota, spending $14 million in this year's budget to support two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Centre to support the increase in the refugee quota to 1500 a year.

But Ms Ardern says this was inevitable due to plans to increase the numbers in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

"And actually that needed to happen anyway, because there is already a move to increase the numbers from 750 to 1000 so that work needed to be done," she told Garner.

Watch the full interview with Jacinda Ardern above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

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