Refugee quota unlikely: mayors
‘‘National's meagre refugee quota is a stain on our reputation as a caring country’’
Queenstown and Central Otago wouldn’t be able to cope with a refugee resettlement programme, the regions’ mayors say.
Housing, living costs and health services were key aspects holding back the introduction of refugees to the area.
Both Queenstown-Lakes District mayor Jim Boult and Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan effectively ruled out taking refugees or hosting a second refugee resettlement centre proposed for outside the Auckland area.
Boult said the region didn’t have the ‘‘social depth and infrastructure’’ to cope with a resettlement programme.
‘‘We are the most expensive place in New Zealand to live in ... [and] housing is desperately short.’’
Any surplus affordable housing in Queenstown should be allocated to residents before any resettlement programme was put in place, Boult said.
Cadogan said the council had not discussed bringing refugees into the district, and given the ‘‘tight housing situation’’ there would be significant problems with it.
‘‘There are specific requirements for the needs of refugees, especially those from places ravaged by war. I can’t categorically say that we don’t have the services to deal with that at present, but I would be surprised if we did.’’
Cadogan had not ‘‘heard a call from the Central Otago community’’ to bring refugees in.
The responses come following the announcement of a Green Party policy that would allow another 4000 refugees a year into New Zealand, bringing the total to 5000 a year.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the party would take applications from councils for a second refugee resettlement centre outside Auckland.
‘‘National’s meagre refugee quota is a stain on our reputation as a caring country,’’ Shaw said. ‘‘Welcoming more refugees to New Zealand is the right thing to do.’’
The Government last year said it would increase New Zealand’s refugee quota from the 750 it stood at for the past 30 years, to 1000 by 2018. The Green Party would implement it’s policy fully within six years.
Palmerston North’s mayor Grant Smith has come out in support of the city hosting a new resettlement centre.