Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Amnesty turns up heat on refugee quota

Amnesty International is in a bid to ramp up pressure on the Government to raise the threshold this year. Photo / Supplied
Amnesty International is in a bid to ramp up pressure on the Government to raise the threshold this year. Photo / Supplied

Amnesty International is holding its own public hearings on the three-yearly review of New Zealand's refugee quota at Parliament today in a bid to ramp up pressure on the Government to raise the threshold this year.

Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, the Human Rights Commission, New Zealand Red Cross, former refugees and others will make submissions to a panel set up by the human rights advocacy group.

United Future leader Peter Dunne is sponsoring the event, which means it can take place within the parliamentary precinct.

Mr Dunne said New Zealand's refugee quota - which has remained at 750 refugees since 1987 - deserved greater scrutiny.

He also wanted local government to have a greater voice in decision-making around the quota.

Many provincial councils were crying out for more migrants or refugees to help to address skill shortages, he said.

A group of mayors from Auckland, Invercargill, Christchurch, Dunedin, Marlborough, Gisborne, Lower Hutt, and Hamilton have indicated support for a higher quota, saying their cities have the capacity to take on more refugees.

Last year, the Government confirmed an emergency intake of 600 Syrian refugees over three years on top of the annual quota.

Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out taking in more Syrian refugees on an emergency basis, but has been hesitant to commit to a higher quota.

He wants to make sure that funding and high-quality support would be available to a larger group of refugees.

Amnesty International's New Zealand branch has received 750 public submissions on the issue, and will produce a report after the public hearings.

Executive director Grant Bayldon said it was crucial for all voices from the community to be heard on the issue. The review of the quotas was taking place during the worst global refugee crisis in 70 years, he said.

The Cabinet will make its decision on the quota for the 2016 to 2019 period this year.

- NZ Herald

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