11 Feb 2013

Refugee Action Coalition says NZ should double refugee intake

4:06 pm on 11 February 2013

A refugee watchdog says the New Zealand government could easily double its intake of asylum seekers.

New Zealand's annual quota of 750 refugees, under its agreement with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, will now include 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centres.

A spokesperson for the Australia-based Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, says New Zealand is undermining its agreement with the UNHCR.

"I think it's a very deliberate attempt, certainly by the Australian government, and the New Zealand government must know what it's doing. And that is that it is an agreement which undermines the refugee convention. And rather than New Zealand offering another 150 places, we've actually got New Zealand denying the 150 places that used to be available for people to be internationally resettled."

Ian Rintoul says the deal is a reflection of Australia's desperate attempt to find regional partners to pretend its refugee policy is legitimate, despite the policy being condemned by Amnesty International and the UNHCR.