23 October 2002 Media Statement
Peters all rhetoric and no solutions
Winston Peters’ latest contribution to the immigration debate is based on misinformation and creates an intolerable
climate for refugees doing their best to resettle in New Zealand.
Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel today lashed out at Peters’ claims of government inaction over refugee scams.
“New Zealand makes a small but important contribution to the massive global problem of refugees, and Mr Peters continues
to undermine that good work by creating a horrible environment for those who are trying to re-establish their lives in
“There is no secret in the fact that the Refugee Status Appeal Authority is dealing with a huge backlog of appeals,
partly caused by manifestly unfounded claims for refugee status. The backlog problem has been referred to in Briefing
Papers to the Incoming Minister, and by myself in speeches both overseas and here in New Zealand.
“It is also no secret that since becoming Minister in 1999, I have been preoccupied with the need to clear the massive
backlog of over 3000 refugee status claims awaiting up to three years, for a first level hearing. That is what I
inherited as Minister and Mr Peters should be pleased that we have significantly reduced the costs in that area.
“However, I have been quite open that some of the backlog would be transferred to the RSAA, and we are seeking to
address these issues.
“We have dealt with abusive claims by prioritising determinations, and by putting in more resources which is more than
Mr Peters’ contribution during his own term in government.
“Not only is this government addressing the matter, our joining of the UNHCR executive committee this year, signals this
government’s willingness to be part of a solution to what is an international problem. Mr Peters on the other hand,
indulges in anti-immigration rhetoric without producing any real solutions.”
“Yesterday, his rhetoric centred around ‘ethnic engineering’, today it’s ’refugee scams’. This language is not helpful
to engendering genuine debate on immigration or refugee issues. His language is designed to be inflammatory and that
doesn’t help anyone.”