Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt says lack of consultation over refugee settling

Mayor of Invercargill Tim Shadbolt. Photo / Getty Images
Mayor of Invercargill Tim Shadbolt. Photo / Getty Images

Immigration New Zealand's plans to settle refugees in Invercargill later this year have gotten off to a rocky start.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said his council has not been consulted sufficiently.

However, the ministry said, a senior official had a "face-to-face'' meeting with Shadbolt in Invercargill and "there was no indication that he was unhappy''.

Invercargill was set to join Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin as a refugee resettlement centre.

Venture Southland was reported saying it would be good for Southland's economy and culture and good for the refugees.

However, in an interview with the South Today on Tuesday morning, Shadbolt took a different tack.

He criticised the ministry over a lack of consultation with the Invercargill City Council.

"I think, one, they recognise that they've got the legislative authority to do it; they don't need to consult with local government. It's not a requirement.

"Perhaps they're nervous about [the] sort of reaction this initiative will have, or it may just be simple arrogance, that they can impose their will on local government and we then have to face the practical reality of their decisions and there's nothing we can do about it.''

Shadbolt was concerned about the availability of jobs and houses for the refugees.

Responding to Mr Shadbolt's comments, INZ general manager Steve McGill said Invercargill was chosen ahead of Christchurch, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Tauranga.

"The shortlisted locations were considered against five assessment criteria _ employment, housing, education, health and wellbeing and community support.

"The New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials' Group recommended in March this year to proceed with Invercargill as the preferred new settlement location based on the broad range of employment opportunities and existing settlement infrastructure.

"A senior INZ official had a face-to-face meeting with Shadbolt in Invercargill and there was no indication that he was unhappy with the recommendation.

As a result the decision was made for Invercargill to become the seventh settlement location for quota refugees.

Refugees are expected to begin arriving in Invercargill later this year.

- Otago Daily Times

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