The focus groups have spoken and the backtrack is under way.
National has slammed on the breaks and dramatically adjusted course from last week when it was not going to accept further refugees to address the Syrian refugee crisis. Now it is going to do something. Identical high level briefings to the Herald and the Dominion Post clearly confirm this.
The branding and the lines will be all important. The move will be presented as the largest increase in refugee intakes in many years. The number of 500 over 3 years has been mentioned. It sounds larger this way. I suspect the number will be 100 for the next year matching the UNHCR’s figure.
Labour will be attacked because back in 2001 the Tampa 150 refugees were part of the existing quota and not new refugees. Of course the reality is now different and we are witnessing the largest refugee crisis since the second world war. But hey saying Labour is at fault has worked so far so why stop when you are on a winner?
Tony Abbott has stated that Australia will accept more Syrian refugees although within its refugee quota although to be fair Australia takes up to three times as many refugees per capita as New Zealand.
John Key was interviewed on Morning Report this morning this morning by Suzy Ferguson. She asked the perfectly appropriate question if he had misread public opinion on the issue. Key disagreed and talked about what National had already done rather than answer the question. And Ferguson did not call him on it although she mentioned that New Zealand has taken 378 fewer refugees during the term of this National Government than it could have.
No doubt further aid to refugee camps will also be announced. I bet the amount being spent transporting and setting up the further refugees from the Middle East will be less than that spent of sending and setting up sheep to the region.
The number is the [minimum] number National has calculated which will allow National MPs to veto Labour’s and Green’s urgent bills and not sustain too much political damage.
Update: The announced amount is 750 in total although 150 of them will be placed into existing slots, so the net figure is 600 over three years or 200 per year. And there will be an extra $4.5 million in aid to the region, less than half spent on #sheepgate.
Is it enough for Labour to be happy and not push ahead with its bill? I do not believe so. It clearly is the least that National thinks it can get away with.