Refugee about-face a sign of back down?

Labour is questioning whether the government’s decision to take some of Australia’s asylum seekers means it has had a change of heart over its proposed ‘mass detention’ law.

The planned law change would allow for the mass detention of a group of 10 or more asylum seekers who arrive in a group by boat.

“Just last year the Prime Minister John Key and his Immigration Minister, Nathan Guy, were describing asylum seekers who arrived by boat as ‘queue jumpers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’,” says Immigration spokesperson, Darien Fenton.

“Now, however, it seems Mr Key is prepared to take a number of the very same people -  from recently reopened Australian detention centres on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru – that he has previously disparaged.

“Whether or not that means the government realises it doesn’t have the support to pass its embarrassing and much-criticised law and withdraws it remains to be seen.

“What is certain is that New Zealand should not go down the flawed path of mandatory detention that has caused so much grief in Australia.

“The people we take will require considerable support beyond the point of release into the community. That means the government must also be prepared to back the cash-strapped New Zealand refugee organisations tasked with helping settle them.”