A reader e-mails re this story:
A few points on this:
Firstly, the Race Relations Commissioner should not involve herself in matters of public policy outside the scope of her responsibilities. She is in a public service role and should keep her opinion on these matters to herself, and not engage in activist issues.
In respect of her view that the quota should increase to at least 1,000 per annum:
We have a generally successful refugee resettlement programme. Largely because we take a number of refugees that we can handle and work closely with to settle successfully. We want refugees to make a solid contribution to their new country and do well. In turn, that underpins public support for the annual quota which is crucial. Excessive numbers with unsuccessful settlement outcomes is not helpful.
In effect, we already accept 1,050 per annum as we take a further 300 in the Refugee Family Support category. This allows refugees to ‘sponsor’ their family members and bypass the usual migration process with its requirements for high education and skill levels etc.
I prefer quality of settlement outcomes for those we take, rather than a quantity we cannot successfully settle. Many refugees have serious educational, health, mental health, language and other challenges that are costly and intensive to address. We should seek to do that well rather than spread the limited funds too thinly over too many.
Could we take more refugees within the annual quota from Syria? Perhaps. Worth exploring and it may well be on the radar of officials already.
New Zealand is one of just 19 or so countries that takes an annual quota of refugees. That is the number that needs to increase substantially to address the global refugee issue. Like climate change, New Zealand can only ever have a minimal effect without the contribution of other nations.
I am sympathetic to calls for a modest increase in our quota. Maybe have it as a proportion of our population, so it rises a bit over time. But this is not a good time to increase it. Net migration is at a record high and infrastructure is going to start to feel some real strains. If anything, we need to temporarily reduce the level of net migration for a year or two – not because we don’t still want migration, just that it needs to be at a level our infrastructure can handle.