Four former prime ministers have lent their names to a campaign to immediately allow 500 more refugees into the country.
Helen Clark, Jim Bolger, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore are backing the Welcome 500 Now campaign, which launched earlier this month.
“There are no rational arguments against us being more generous: none at all,” Mr Bolger said.
“We can do it. We can afford it.”
Campaign founder Tracey Barnett says they want each candidate in this year’s election to publicly declare they will agree to welcome 500 additional refugees immediately, if they are elected.
“Unless they promise to do something now politicians can procrastinate, defer, discuss, delay and generally kick the can down the road for several years until the quota is reviewed. Desperate people can’t afford that luxury.”
New Zealand’s annual refugee quota is 750 and it will rise to 1000 next year.
But Ms Barnett said the number of refugees was growing at a greater rate and New Zealand’s response seems “markedly inadequate”.
“We rank 95th in the world in terms of refugees and asylum seekers hosted per capita and 122nd relative to our GDP.”
But current Prime Minister Bill English was less keen on the plan than his predecessors.
He said today the quota was already being raised and the Government was more focused on making sure refugees were given proper support to get into jobs and communities, rather than just increasing the total intake. NZN