Deterrent needed against 'real risk' of boat people reaching NZ – Guy
While no asylum boats have ever reached New Zealand, Immigration Minister Nathan Guy says “the risk is real” and our law needs to be changed.
The government is about to pass the Immigration Amendment Bill. That will allow mass arrivals of asylum-seekers – defined as 10 or more people – to be detained for up to six months.
Entertainers like Michele A’Court, Dave Dobbyn and Oscar Kightley have spoken out against it the law change in a YouTube campaign.
But the government is pressing ahead. Mr Guy told TVNZ's Q+A programme yesterday a deterrent is needed or New Zealand will be seen as a soft touch.
Six vessels wanting to come to New Zealand have been stopped by foreign authorities in the past decade.
The closest they have got is Australia. The rough Tasman Sea has acted as a deterrent, but a legislative deterrent is also needed, Mr Guy says.
Australia’s return to offshore processing “could lift the level of risk” and send more asylum seekers our way. “That could mean that they [asylum seekers in boats] look down into New Zealand and say, ‘Actually, New Zealand’s not that far away”.
New Zealand already accepts around a third of about 300 asylum seekers who apply each year, Mr Guy says.
The government has to be prepared to handle the arrival of a boat of 500 people.
The minister says while the low-level security Mangere Refugee Centre could accommodate asylum seekers, the arrival of boat people would pose a security problem.
"High-risk individuals could be detained in somewhere like a correctional facility," Mr Guys says.
"Those in a medium-capability risk could utilise something like a Defence Force an army base.
"And then, of course, you have a situation where you have mum and the kids, and that’s where we’d look to put them into somewhere like the Mangere centre in Auckland, and we’ve got a detailed business case being worked through on the future of that."
The Mangere centre is "is hardly lock-up", Mr Guy says.
"It’s very open, and so that’s where mum and kids would go and potentially dad in the first instance.
"Then we’d work through the process of their identity, then they’d get a temporary visa, then after three years we’d review them, then potentially they’d go into a permanent residence situation.
"If it is just a father, then they can look to bring their immediate family in, but not their extended family."
Watch the full interview here.