19 Jul 2012

Refugee organisation says new legislation not needed

9:35 pm on 19 July 2012

A refugee organisation has told a Parliamentary committee that New Zealand already has the means to cope with a mass arrival of asylum seekers.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee is hearing submissions on the Government's Immigration Amendment Bill which seeks to change the law so that any incoming group of more than 11 people can be detained under a group warrant, rather than being dealt with individually.

Refugees as Survivors Organisation chief executive Gary Poole says current immigration laws allow the Government to already detain a group of asylum seekers.

He says an amendment is not necessary.

Former cabinet minister Aussie Malcolm, who is the deputy chair of the refugee organisation, also told MPs that detaining asylum seekers in detention centres was very expensive, and created new mental health issues.

Mr Malcolm says refugees with the same trauma profiles, when cared for by the New Zealand system of community care, do not act like that.

He says there is also no evidence to suggest that the detention of asylum seekers also acts as a deterrent to people smugglers.