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How much does New Zealand spend on refugees?

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, September 3rd, 2015 - 54 comments
Categories: aid, International, iraq, john key, national, Syria - Tags: , , ,

Syrian refugees

The devastating news from Europe and the Middle East and the refusal of John Key to even contemplate increasing our refugee quota made me wonder, how much do we spend on resettling refugees and how much would it cost to resettle more?

As to the first question National made a big song and dance in 2014 claiming they had increased the amount for resettlement of refugees from $7.6 million a year to $13.2 million.  Without a hint of irony Michael Woodhouse said at the time:

We have an enviable reputation internationally for our work in resettling refugees from the world’s trouble spots and this extra money will ensure that refugees will continue to get the excellent level of help and support they need to settle into their new country.”

I am not sure how accurate his claim about the increase in spend is although the changing of budget category descriptions that has occurred always makes a proper comparison difficult.  A cynic would think that the Government has changed appropriations descriptions so that a meaningful comparison is not possible.  And the spend was in the context of outsourcing some refugee services to the private sector so the claim needs to be treated with some scepticism.

The general refugee category in the Immigration Appropriations suggests that in 2008 $16.553 million was budgeted by the last Labour Government for refugee services (M38).  For the current financial year the amount was $20.190 million (again M38).  Woodhouse’s claimed increase in spend is not easy to understand and the change appears to be no more than what would be required to compensate for inflation.

But if it cost $20.190 million to look after 750 refugees last year then applying a simple arithmetic approach doubling the money should double the number of refugees we can accept.  And the number is still miniscule.  Especially when you think of Germany’s proposal to accept 800,000 refugees this year.

Amnesty International has published this fact sheet showing relative performance of different nations in accepting refugees and has urged New Zealand to double its quota.  There has already been a spirited discussion on last night’s Daily Review post.

Amnesty International’s conclusions include these:

  • New Zealand ranks 90th in the world in per capita assistance to refugees.
  • Lebanon, a country with the same population as New Zealand, is currently hosting 1 million refugees. That’s 232 refugees for every 1000 people living there.
  • Australia takes five times more refugees and asylum seekers per capita than New Zealand. Their quota is three and a half times higher than ours.
  • Our annual refugee quota of 750 people hasn’t been raised since it was set nearly 30 years ago.
  • There are about 300 people per year who come to NZ on a refugee family reunification visa, but these people do not receive any government assistance or programme support.

Why should New Zealand accept more?  One good reason is that as a member of the Security Council of the United Nations it should be setting an example.  Another is that the numbers we accept are so low and it would be so easy to double the number accepted with barely measurable change to our population.

Brian Rudman sums things up well in this column.  He said this about the Government’s response:

What is missing is any sense of urgency, despite a nightly procession on our television screens of bodies found in abandoned freezer trucks, dead bodies floating in the sea, and processions of the doomed and despairing, trailing along European railway lines, too exhausted to run from harrying police.

Our Government is happy to spend $25.4 million on sending 143 soldiers to stir up the Iraqi hornets’ nest, but has no extra money to assist the burgeoning flood of victims.

Meanwhile back home, the Government is happy to allow an expanding inflow of economic migrants, despite the obvious crisis it’s causing in the Auckland housing market.

Statistics New Zealand recently revealed that 59,600 permanent and long-term new migrants had entered the country for the year to July.

The numbers for July alone were a record 5700.

The Government’s only reaction to this pressure point is to offer higher bonus points to skilled migrants who promise to work outside Auckland for a year. For those with money in their pockets, the more, it seems, the merrier. Plus their dependants.

Would it be so hard to design a similar scheme to target refugees as well.

From all accounts, Syria and Iraq are whole nations on the move. Doctors, teachers, businessmen, nurses included – a whole cross section of society.

Refugees have enriched our society in the past. One even produced a son who became a Prime Minister.

They will again. If we’re smart enough to let them in.

For less than the cost of the current flag referendum we could easily accommodate more refugees.  Throw in the cost of the Saudi sheep farm and there would be more than enough money to go around.  That this Government thinks resettling sheep in a Saudi desert and trying to chose a flag are more important than resettling fellow human beings in the most trying of circumstances clearly sets out its priorities.

54 comments on “How much does New Zealand spend on refugees? ”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    Its strange to say John Keys mother came to NZ as a refugee. She and her husband came here as an assisted migrants from the UK

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Splitting hairs. Mrs Key was a refugee who escaped Nazi GermanyGerman occupied Austria. Rudman’s statement is accurate.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10522311

      • Rosie 1.1.1

        From the 2008 article, this says it all:

        “On election night this year, no matter the result, John Key will be surrounded by his family – his wife and children, his two sisters and their families. But they will all spare a thought for the woman who made it possible.”

        -Referring to his mother, who was a refugee and came to NZ via the UK.

        Key’s reluctance to help these people coping with such perilous journeys, faced with death in their homeland or death in their attempt to escape, is really a denial of his own heritage.

        He had a good start in life thanks to his mother’s tenacity, her arrival in NZ and the welfare state that supported his family.
        What kind of a person who has the power to return the favour, then deny hope and assistance to those who following in his mother’s footsteps?

    • Sabine 1.2

      she was a Jewish refugee from Austria, who managed to escape to England.

      this from here : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10522311

      ” Born Ruth Lazar in Vienna, Austria, in November 1922, she was the youngest child of Max, a successful trader with his own leather merchant business, and Margarethe (nee Karpeles).

      With her brother Herbert, 21 months older, Ruth was brought up a non-orthodox Jew. In 1938 when Hitler annexed Austria, Jews faced the choice of escape or death.

      A schoolgirl at the time, Ruth must have been terrified. Her father had died of cancer, and now the Holocaust was upon them.

      In desperation, Ruth’s aunt, Lottie Karpeles, fled to Britain and paid a British soldier to marry her. It was a marriage of convenience – they exchanged vows, walked out of the registry office and never saw each other again. But the marriage enabled Lottie to secure British visas to help her family escape.”
      ———————————————————————————————————————-

      Regardless of Dear Leader being the son of a ‘refugee’ or ‘assisted migrant’, his current stance on the refugee crisis in the middle east is callous, indifferent, and simply just shameful.

      This current National Government, its voters, its enablers in the Press and other Media, its business friends and their fellating rugbyboys is nothing but shameful.

      • Antoine 1.2.1

        Guess I’ll be the one to say it,

        Miss Lazar was an asset to NZ. But she was a European Jew. We aint talking about European Jewish refugees today…

        A.

  2. North 2

    I’m afraid I simply could not bring myself to click on the Herald’s ‘Hosking Minute’ or whatever it’s called…..the hubris in that ridiculous little man’s face over the question “who will pay…..?” re more refugees – “minute” says it all about The Ponce Key’s BF !

    • shorts 2.1

      I did and now hate myself for doing so

      to sum it up – “money”

      what a wanker

    • James 2.2

      What is it with you and using the homosexual insult “Ponce” when talking about Key? (or in this case his boyfriend).

      You always seem to be calling him a Ponce. Im guessing if I was using the term lezo to refer to a female Labour MP I would be called out and possibly banned if I continued.

      But you seem to have some fascination about it. How about trying to argue points without the sexual insults huh?

  3. dukeofurl 3

    An interesting detail of refugees coming to NZ recently, is that the persecution they are fleeing is perpetuated by nasty Buddhist majority countries.

    The nepalese are refugees from Bhutan, the Tamils are refugees from Sri Lanka and we have minority groups from northern Burma – which is a buddhist country.

    They are different situations but they have in common persecution from Buddhists !

    • Sabine 3.1

      no religion is free from cruelty.

      Gosh, in fact if we could finally drop that habit of Religion , we might stop killing people in the Name of God, the flying spaghetti moster, or the bearded sky fairy.

      But hey,…..God!!

      fuck it.

      https://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/shocking-photo-of-dead-child-forces-europe-to-confront-refugee-crisis/

      we should be simply just ashamed by now.

      • weka 3.1.1

        “Gosh, in fact if we could finally drop that habit of Religion , we might stop killing people in the Name of God, the flying spaghetti moster, or the bearded sky fairy.”

        Are you suggesting that the refugees that duke names became refugees because of religion?

        I think you will find that atheistic, agnostic and secular states all create refugees and are cruel. Religion isn’t the common denominator, Homo spaiens is.

        • Sabine 3.1.1.1

          To a large extend the western world has exploited the ‘religious’ differences in the middle east to their advantage for a while now.
          Sunni against Shia, Shia against Sunnis, Jewish against Palestinians etc etc etc
          Wahhabinism in Saudi as practised by Bin Laden, etc etc.

          or are you saying that no one ever ever exploited these countries of the line of religious and tribal affiliation?

          So yes, Religion is one the theory in which millions over millions of people have been killed. And million of millions of people stood by and did nothing.

          Gosh, in Germany even Hitler used religion to make the killing of the undesirables, the rainbow community, and the Jewish German Population palatable. Why, because thats what works. (before anyone throws Goodwin at me, i am german and this is the history of my country.)
          There were a few of the religious People in Germany that stood up and courageously preached against the killings, more often then not they did not survive.

          But yes, the secular, the agnostics and others will have no issues using religion to advance their games….and the sheep that rather believe in a manly god in heavens then trust their own eyes will have no issues averting their eyes and go to church/temple to pray away their sins and fears.

          • dukeofurl 3.1.1.1.1

            What ‘exploitation to their advantage’- is there concrete examples of that?

            Conflict between these groups goes back centuries in most cases

            • Sabine 3.1.1.1.1.1

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarian_violence_in_Iraq

              this might be a good start to read.

              you could go back to the thirty year war

              http://www.history.com/topics/thirty-years-war

              then there was Henry the Eights who did not like the catholic church meddling in his affairs

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England

              you could read this about the catholic churches involvement in Vietnam

              http://www.reformation.org/vietnam.html

              witches, money and the catholic church

              http://www.salon.com/2005/02/01/witch_craze/

              the roman catholic church and the colonization of the Americas

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Roman_Catholicism_in_Hispano-America

              and there was Hitler

              http://www.nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm

              i will stop now.
              I think you can read, and understand what I am trying to say.

              I really do believe that religion is used to subdue people, and in many cases religion is used to destroy people. Be they Buddhists, Muslim, Christians or Pagans, it matters not to the one who does the killing. Religion is used as a killer, and religion is used to identify the victim.

              So tell me whose religion is worth more? Yours or mine? Or maybe his or hers?

              • dukeofurl

                And the ME ?
                Wasnt that your main thesis, the ‘western world has exploited this areas religious conflicts’ as an outsider’.

                You dont have any examples, as of course religious conflict in Europe cant be exploited ‘as outsiders’

            • Bill 3.1.1.1.1.2

              What’s with the ‘these groups’ nonsense as though some people are lesser or different or whatever? ‘These groups‘ are just groups of humanity exactly like you and me and ‘our’ group with slightly different collective sense of identity.

              They and their groups don’t and haven’t exhibited any humanity or lack of humanity any different to your group and its sense of identity. There is nothing inherent to any group of people that isn’t inherent to all groups of people.

              Dismissive statements along the lines of “Conflict between these groups goes back centuries in most cases” are utterly contemptible and only offer a reflection on your humanity and empathy – not theirs.

              • dukeofurl

                Are you saying that the conflicts in ‘these areas’ are solely between individuals and not as part of a larger one based on tribal, religious, ethnic or language ‘groups’

                Surely you dont mean individual identity solely, as often identity is considered part of a larger ‘group’.

                The historical record is plain to see in Syria for instance, so I dont see why it cant be considered a continuation.

                Where did I say I thought them ‘lessor or different ‘?, oh right, you made that up.

                And as for what is a refugee ? ( another group name!) -1951 Refugee Convention definition.

                1) a person who is outside his country of nationality or habitual residence.

                2) has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, and
                3) is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.

                So the actual definition specifies broad range of ‘groups’, who would have guessed ? A bit more specific than just a ‘member of humanity’
                I would have thought ?

                • dukeofurl

                  Rethinking this, you are right about individuals who are forced from their country by conflict, they usually have nothing to do with various ‘groups’ who are instigators of conflict.
                  They mostly get along well with their neighbors no matter their separate identities and just want to live out their lives peacefully.

          • weka 3.1.1.1.2

            Looks like anti-religion bigotry to me Sabine. You seem to think that if religion were gone that humans would be good to each other. I’ve pointed out that atheistic, agnostic and secular states are cruel as well, and I don’t mean in how they manipulate relgious people. I mean in how they regard and treat humans in general. Religion has nothing to do with it. It’s humans that are cruel and they can use religion or atheism or whatever to channel that cruelty.

            Religious intolerance from atheists is still religious intolerance, and it doesn’t create peace any more than than any other kind.

            • Sabine 3.1.1.1.2.1

              I really do believe that religion is used to subdue people, and in many cases religion is used to destroy people. Be they Buddhists, Muslim, Christians or Pagans, it matters not to the one who does the killing. Religion is used as a killer, and religion is used to identify the victim.

              So tell me whose religion is worth more? Yours or mine? Or maybe his or hers?

              • weka

                I agree that religion can be used to oppress people. But if you take away the religion, people find other ways to oppress people.

                “So tell me whose religion is worth more?”

                I don’t place worth on religion like that. I think tolerance is the way to go. If people are behaving badly, then address that. If write off religion as a whole, you’re just being intolerant like the other people who justify things via their belief systems.

        • dukeofurl 3.1.1.2

          So you are saying take the religion away and they all get on fine?
          Wouldnt it be great to create the perfect world, without religion and without borders where we all speak the same language. An impoosible dream

          How many buddhist majority states are there ? Why are they creating refugees out of people who aren’t their religion.

          You could say the buddhists are a hot spot for the refugee creation. I understand even Thailand has problems in this regard. To have virtually every buddhist nation included makes you wonder about that religion.

          • weka 3.1.1.2.1

            “How many buddhist majority states are there ? Why are they creating refugees out of people who aren’t their religion.”

            What makes you think it’s an issue of religion? I just looked at the Bhutan example and it looks like an issue of either nationality or ethnicity to me.

            • dukeofurl 3.1.1.2.1.1

              Bhutan is a majority buddhist state. So is Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand. I think these are the only ones.

              • weka

                What makes you think the refugee issue is relate to Buddhism in Bhutan? As I said, it looks more like a nationality or ethnicity issue to me. I could be wrong, but I am asking you why you are assuming religion is the issue.

                • dukeofurl

                  The only difference between Bhutan and its neighbour Nepal is religion , as there are many ethnic groups and languages although they are split into Tibeto-Burman and Indo Aryan groups.

                  Again , Ill repeat , only a few majority Buddhist nations, almost all have refugee problems. Which other religious group has that sort of score ?
                  It also seems to run against what we would consider the Buddhist religion to be like.

                  • weka

                    There is a lot in this wiki article, it looks complex to me, but Buddhism is hardly mentioned. To me it looks like you are making an assumption of correlation = causation, but I don’t see the evidence for it.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhutanese_refugees

                    The only difference between Bhutan and its neighbour Nepal is religion , as there are many ethnic groups and languages although they are split into Tibeto-Burman and Indo Aryan groups.

                    perhaps the Bhutanese, Nepalese and Indians feel differently.

  4. AnthonyB 5

    Dear the standard please keep up this battle, for these poor desperate exhausted people of war torn countries and others escaping terrible conditions at home. We have no excuse not to bring more in.

    Not only is this our least civil responsibility and duty.

    It will be more efficient to bring in a proper number at least 10,000

    [lprent: The Standard won’t. It is a machine. However I am sure that various authors will express their views.

    Mine is that we’re be very unlikely to bring in 10k refugees because it would be inefficient. It would flood available resources, and building a infrastructure to be able to handle that volume would take more time than is available. However initially raising the limit to 1-1.5k per year wouldn’t be hard, would mainly just take money, would allow us to actually get back in line with the commitments we undertook as a nation many decades ago, and would be a good start. ]

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      the numbers of refugee visas granted by Australia is here

      http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/RefugeeResettlement

      Current numbers are about 6000 to 6500, but these include family members of refugees who are later accepted for re -settlement ( there was a one off peak of 12000 in 2012-13.

      Also interesting is number refugees ( via UNHCR) accepted by other countries (2012)

      United States of America 53,053
      Australia 5,079
      Canada 4,755
      Sweden 1,483
      Norway 1,137
      United Kingdom 989
      Finland 763
      New Zealand 719
      Denmark 324
      Germany 323
      All others 627

      • miravox 5.1.1

        Interesting because the official UNHCR resettlements are such a small proportion of total claims for refuge in some countries?

        In the first half of this year [2014], around 330,700 people requested refugee status in industrialized nations – a 24 percent increase on the same period in 2013.
        Germany topped the list of new asylum claims for the first time since 1999, with 65,700 applications – mainly due to a rise in applications from Syrians. That figure was a 50 percent rise on January to June 2013 numbers.
        Five nations received almost two-thirds of new asylum claims – Germany, the United States, France, Sweden and Turkey.

        … The number of asylum seekers in Australia fell by one-fifth, to 4,600. Australia has been the target of UNHCR criticism over the past decade for sending refugees arriving by boat to Pacific islands while their claims are assessed.
        In a separate statement on Friday, the UNHCR slammed Australia for a controversial new deal, under which Canberra will start sending refugees to Cambodia.

    • freedom of will 5.2

      Keep them in your house and don’t let them out and you pay for them.

      OK? Deal?

      NO?

      Then learn not to impose, that’s a basic courtesy.

  5. linda 6

    When key is busy booting people out of state houses an increase in refugees could be explosive

  6. fisiani 7

    Using refugees to again be negative and have a cheap shot at Honest John Key is shameful but typical. As the figures above confirm we are in top 100. Far better than our ranking in football for instance. Perhaps we should organise football matches in refugee camps and offer places to those with ball skills. That could be a win win.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      You managed a remarkably offensive comment. Well done.

    • freedom 7.2

      Hi fisiani,

      On other sites, such as Kiwiblog (& google enquiries today suggest a few related to Scottish Football franchises* ) you seem completely capable of rather detailed explanations (and have even asked civil questions – which was something of a revelation to see)

      On other sites you are able to string together a comprehensible, reasonable and inoffensive paragraph to explain your point of view when you see fit. You even put in the hard yards on occasion. Your exhaustive (and highly imaginative) list of the Greens Ban List over at Kiwiblog is a fine example of what you can create when you make the effort. I realise your visits to The Standard are some sort of playtime for you and you never really make an effort to be anything other than obnoxiously trivial and/or as offensive as possible, but I was wondering…..

      I see you once again have used the phrase

      Honest John Key

      You have thrown this line around quite a few times.
      Would you enlighten readers here at the Standard as to how you come to apply such an epithet to our Prime Minister?
      I am sure many here would be grateful.

      You know we shiver with antici . . . . . . . . . . . . pation 😉

      * Of course it’s a big world and there may be others using the same handle but you have posted here at The Standard how you are a proud Celtic’s fan. For example, there is a commenter on Stuff and the NZ Herald using “FREEDOM” and I can assure readers it is not me. I no longer submit comments to those publications and never used the handle of “freedom” or “FREEDOM” when doing so.

    • Anno1701 7.3

      who cares what a dirty, dirty tim thinks about football…..

  7. freedom of will 8

    We have paid enough tax, we don’t need more freeloaders.

    Economy is a piece of pie which is a zero sum game. You take some for one purpose, that amount will not be recovered for other things you want to spend on. Investing on economic migrants is like investing in Aussie mining shares, you are gonna lose.

    So, don’t ask NZ, as country, as a commonwealth, as an entity with a balance sheet (which means it’s not a bloody charity for battered people of the Galaxy) to do more, if you love them, donate money to them so their stay out of NZ and start a life wherever they can, but don’t drag us with you. Because you left wing activists don’t make much money and it’s not really your sacrifice!

    Cool child actors btw.

    • dv 8.1

      FOW
      I would like to thank you your clear expression on your humanity.
      And BTW I see a 4 year old child actors died.

    • Lanthanide 8.2

      “We have paid enough tax, we don’t need more freeloaders.”

      Yip, ’cause refugees just sit around all day, don’t get jobs, don’t spend money on things (thus paying GST).

      Complete and utter freeloaders that don’t contribute anything to society.

      Turns out, John Key is the son of a refugee. Make of that what you will in terms of ‘contribution to society’.

    • Anno1701 8.3

      so you consider changing the flag ( @ how ever many millions ) is worth more than the lives of children ?

  8. Bill 9

    I’ve prevaricated over linking to this, but the thing is this. Refugees can’t just be seen as a collection of people ‘in distress’. So…warning These photographs are upsetting. As reported in The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Independent, Common Dreams….

    Top trending on ‘twitter’ apparently – #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik (humanity washed ashore)

  9. Scott Yorke nails this

    I for one couldn’t think of anything more annoying than going down to my local beach and finding some small dead innocent child face down in the sand.

    We’re lucky that we have a Prime Minister who gets this. John Key understands how important it is that New Zealand does nothing to encourage these people. He is under immense pressure to increase our refugee quota, but if we were to do so we would be seen as a soft touch, and then pretty much every Tom, Dick or Mohammed would want to float their dead children our way.

    If you give these people an inch they will take an entire cemetery. That’s why we are right to reject calls for the global community to work together and deal with this swarm of dead children turning up on beaches, or floating in the sea, or left to die in lorries or refugee camps.

    http://imperatorfish.com/2015/09/03/keep-your-dead-children-off-our-beaches/

    sometimes you have to hit it hard to make it move!!!

  10. Reality 11

    Ironic, it was so necessary to be “part of the club” that NZ troops were sent to Iraq. Not so keen on being part of this refugee club. Perhaps not enough cheesy photo opportunities.

  11. domestic1 12

    Every Western country NZ included, who tried to impose the doctrine of democracy on countries without a democratic history by overthrowing their governments, now has a moral obligation to clean up the distressing human mess they have created.

  12. maui 13

    I’m moving into Neetflux territory, but felt compelled to make an image about the crisis. http://i59.tinypic.com/2vsnoe1.jpg

  13. nzmr2guy 14

    I wasnt aware refugee quotas were a competition with Australia (or other nations) or a feather to wear in our UN cap. Last time I checked NZ had its own issues and a ton of debt to pay back to rich international bankers…why burden struggling tax payers further ?.

    • weka 14.1

      As far as I know there is no suggestion of increasing taxes to pay for resettling more refugees in NZ.

    • dv 14.2

      “why burden struggling tax payers further ”

      Shame about SCF and the smelter then, as couple that spring to mind.

  14. Sylvia 15

    I wonder who would want to be a refugee and flee from a country in desperation to save their life? Who would come to the rescue and help someone in this situation? Has humanity gone mad and forgotten how to look after their brother I wonder? I often think that we must work together so we can move forward together because otherwise there will be more strife and blunder. I hope that this is humble enough for those who blame religious beliefs or even Buddhist thoughts, that are not really religious at all, what we need is to take our brothers hand and help him when the going is tough and then we can feel we are a part of humanity. Surely we can do this without wars with sharing, justice and peace and this method isn’t done on a planet like ours but only when we focus on something higher than ourselves and think of our brothers first so that eventually we may have a sacred planet in the universe that keeps on expanding and opening its borders to others in creation.

  15. flow 16

    $26,000 per refugee, where the benefits for a family of 3 new zealanders comes to $6,500 each.

    yeah. i’m opposed to the whole transnational movement of peoples. close the borders to all but productive migration.

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