Immigration rules discriminatory

An item on Sunday raised ‘serious serious questions’ about NZ’s refugee policy, which has a special rule that requires that refugees from Africa and the Middle East must have family in New Zealand to qualify. And the Minister of Immigration agrees that it is a discriminatory rule and says that Cabinet is reviewing the rule.

1 News: Is it racist? ‘Very serious questions’ raised about fairness of NZ’s refugee policy

New Zealand’s refugee policy is discriminating against vulnerable people from Africa and the Middle East, a TVNZ Sunday investigation has found.
In 2009, the then-National Government introduced the “family link” policy, requiring refugees from Africa and the Middle East to have an existing family connection to New Zealand.

The “family link” rule doesn’t apply to refugees from the Asia-Pacific or the Americas.

While some Middle Eastern refugees have been brought in under emergency intakes, including from Syria, the main refugee quota has been heavily affected by this policy.

New Zealand has been unable to meet its refugee targets for Africa and the Middle East over the past decade.
Refugee leaders and community organisations told Sunday that the policy is racist and unfair.

The “family link” policy has been criticised by Amnesty International and World Vision. Both organisations say they have lobbied the Government, asking for a change in the policy. Those efforts have been unsuccessful.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt told Sunday that he would be “very disappointed if different rules were being applied to refugees from different geographic regions without very good reasons for such an approach”.

In a statement, the UNHCR – the UN’s refugee agency – told TVNZ that refugee laws should be applied “without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin”.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway refused to be interviewed, saying that the issue is before Cabinet and he hopes to make an announcement later in the year.

However on Monday Lees-Galloway responded – Immigration Minister agrees Middle East, Africa refugees rules are discriminatory

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the rules were inherited from the previous government and were being reviewed.

He told Morning Report the official advice he has received was clear about the difficulties with the current quota system.

“They told me that it’s difficult to source sufficient numbers of people to meet the targets that were set by the previous government with that policy in place.

“And that is something that we will need to take into consideration if we want to change the proportion of people that we take from various regions from around the world.”

Mr Lees-Galloway said quota rules run for three years and a government decision about the next three years was “imminent”.

I don’t buy the three year rule claim. Governments change rules when they want to.

It is good that the clear discrimination is being reviewed – but I presume it will require agreement from NZ First to change.

 

Labour moves into local body politics

The Labour Party are at least looking in to becoming more closely involved in local body politics.

It’s impossible to avoid questions about Phil Goff’s bid to become Auckland mayor while remaining a Labour MP.

Further to this the Taxpayers’ Union has raised the issue of whether Labour is using taxpayer funds set up an Auckland office “to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns” – see REVEALED: SPEAKER’S WARNING TO LABOUR ON TAXPAYER FUNDED CAMPAIGNING

The concerns raised with the Speaker came after an email was sent by Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened an Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

“It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty,” says Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

Mr Williams says, “We’ve expressed concern before that Mr Goff intends to be paid as an MP in Wellington, while he is campaigning for a new job in Auckland. This letter from the Speaker suggests that he too is concerned with MP’s taxpayer funded resources being misused for political purposes in Auckland.”

The original email, and the correspondence between the Speaker and the Taxpayers’ Union is available here.

But it’s not just in Auckland that Labour are looking at local body campaigns.

Palmerston North:

Party politics enters Palmerston North City Council election campaign

Party politics could be about to become a feature of the Palmerston North City Council.

The Labour Party is seeking to endorse councillor candidates at October’s local body elections.

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Labour electorate committee chairwoman Lorna Johnson said the prospect had been considered for some time.

Lees-Galloway said the abolition of wards in 2013 had made it inevitable that many potential candidates would need support to campaign across the whole city.

“We think it will help get more diversity on the council.

“We want to add to the council, not dominate it.”

Why is an MP involved?

And Dunedin:

Councillors split over Labour ticket prospect

Councillors have divided into camps over the prospect of more party politics inside the Dunedin City Council.

Some city councillors welcomed the prospect when contacted by the Otago Daily Timesyesterday, saying any initiative that helped quality candidates to step forward should be encouraged.

But others warned any councillor elected under a national political party’s banner risked being beholden to Wellington, ahead of the city’s electors and ratepayers.

The divergent views came after it was confirmed the Labour Party was considering a “Local Labour” ticket to promote candidates for DCC council seats, and possibly the mayoralty, in October’s local body elections.

Cr Andrew Noone said he would not object to the initiative if constituents were calling for it, but “I feel it’s being driven not by the local community”.

The test would be whether Labour-aligned councillors made decisions based on evidence and advice from council staff, “or whether they do it on the basis of Labour Party policy”.

Other councillors welcomed the initiative, including Cr David Benson-Pope – a former Labour-aligned councillor and Cabinet minister – who said he was considering joining the ticket after running as an independent in 2013.

Not surprising to see Benson-Pope keen on a Labour ticket.

Is Labour looking at a more prominent involvement in local body politics elsewhere in the country?