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Allow community to sponsor refugees: MP

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/01/2017

New Zealand communities should be allowed to sponsor refugees on top of the nation's current 750 per year quota, United Future leader Peter Dunne says.

While Mr Dunne backs doubling the current baseline quota he believes there's a smarter way to look at refugee settlement by engaging New Zealand's community spirit.

"Up and down the country, and in my own Ohariu electorate, I see the compassion of New Zealanders welcoming refugee families and putting their hands up to help those who need support," he said.

"Our refugee programme should engage directly with that generous and inclusive spirit and allow communities to sponsor refugees in addition to our current quota."

A community sponsorship pilot programme, for up to 25 people, is due to be trialled this year.

Such a programme, which already exist beyond trials overseas, would still be subject to vetting and immigration security.

Expansion of the family reunification category, which currently has 300 places for families sponsoring family members, would also limit the cost to government, he said.

New Zealand's quota for refugees will rise from 750 to 1000 from next year.

The Green Party and Labour have both pledged to double the existing quota, to accept 1500 refugees per year, if they win government.

Prime Minister Bill English has not ruled out further community sponsorship places if the trial is a success.

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