Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy has defended his record as Immigration Minister — in the face of mounting criticism from Amnesty International over the Government’s aslymn seeker policy.
In reply to a question from the Kāpiti Independent, Mr Guy says: “All the legal advice I’ve received indicates that this legislation (Mass Arrivals Bill) complies with the New Zealand Bill of Rights and our international obligations, which we take very seriously.
“We want to make it clear that New Zealand is not a soft touch, and discourage the dangerous and cruel business of people smuggling. Any journey by boat to New Zealand is likely to be extremely dangerous, putting the lives of men, women and children at risk.
“As well as the deterrent aspect, the Bill will help us deal with such an arrival if it does occur.”
And Mr Guy says: “In the past our distance has protected us, but ventures are now making it further. In 2010 a steel-hulled boat with nearly 500 people crossed the Pacific to reach Canada. If they can make it that far, they can definitely make it to New Zealand.
“New Zealand has been targeted by people smuggling operations in recent years and we know that the risk is real.
“I’m proud of New Zealand’s humanitarian record in supporting genuine refugees and asylum seekers, and this will continue. Every asylum case will continue to be assessed on its individual merits
“We accept around 750 genuine, UN-mandated refugees every year and our resettlement programme has been praised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, when he visited New Zealand in February this year.”