As part of the LPHS Amnesty International Group’s activities for World Refugee Day, we met with the Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse to discuss NZ’s policy on refugees and asylum seekers, on June 24.
Around thirty students attended the meeting,
where the Minister gave a short address and then some students had the
opportunity to ask questions. The
Minister expressed sympathy with Amnesty’s calls to ‘double the quota’, calling
the current refugee crisis the ‘largest mass movement of people during global
peacetime’. However, he said the issue
was one of ‘quality rather than quantity’ and that New Zealand risked adversely
affecting the current high standard service it provides for refugees if it
increased the quota. The Minister spoke
about Australia’s policy on asylum seekers, the principle of ‘refoundment’, and
how he believes New Zealand compares on the world stage.
Topics for the questions for the Minister related to the cost of resettling refugees, how money allocated to refugees was spent, the minister’s opinion on Germany’s response, employment prospects for refugees, and how diversity could benefit New Zealand. Unfortunately many students attending did not have the opportunity to ask their questions but the Minister welcomed any further questions via email.