Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Kiwis back taking more refugees

Poll shows support for move to resettle 150 asylum seekers a year from Aussie centres.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo / Getty Images
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealanders strongly support a move to take 150 refugees from Australian detention centres and resettle them here, a Herald-DigiPoll survey has found.

Prime Minister John Key flies to Canberra today for his first meeting with new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and discussion about asylum seekers was expected to be at the top of the agenda.

In February, Mr Key signed a deal with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard to resettle 150 refugees after they had been processed in Australia as part of NZ's United Nations quota of 750 refugees.

Mr Key said he would be amazed if Mr Abbott reneged on the policy, which was to take effect next year.

The survey asked Kiwis whether they supported the agreement, and 60.8 per cent said they did if the 150 people were genuine refugees. But 34.8 per cent disagreed with the initiative because they felt it encouraged "queue jumping".

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said New Zealand's offer to take refugees reflected the fact that people-smuggling was a regional issue that required regional co-operation.

Australia played a role in giving New Zealand intelligence on asylum seekers and also picked up boat people who were potentially on their way to New Zealand.

"It's only a matter of time before one of these boats turns up in New Zealand waters, and people are aware that we need to work together with Australia and our other regional partners on the issue."

Green Party immigration spokeswoman Jan Logie said the poll result showed New Zealanders had a compassionate approach to taking refugees.

She hoped the transtasman agreement did not mean New Zealand would become more aligned with Australia's hardline policy on asylum seekers.

Mr Key has also suggested New Zealand could take refugees who had been processed in Malaysia, which was not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees.

- NZ Herald

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