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.

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