30 Apr 2012

NZ legislation aims to deter people smuggling

10:45 pm on 30 April 2012

The New Zealand Government is to introduce legislation aimed at deterring people smuggling.

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy says the Government wants to send a strong message that New Zealand is not a soft touch for people smugglers.

He believes the country is a target for dangerous and mass arrivals by boat and needs to be better prepared.

Nathan Guy says authorities need to be able to detain groups.

Nathan Guy says authorities need to be able to detain groups. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

An amendment to the Immigration Act will allow mass arrivals to be detained under a group warrant, rather than each person having to be dealt with individually.

Mr Guy says as mass arrivals are likely to include people whose identities are unknown or in doubt, authorities need to be able to detain groups when they reach New Zealand shores.

Family reunification rules will also be tightened so that those who gain residence after three years can bring immediate family to New Zealand, but not extended family as is presently allowed.

A claimant's refugee status will be reassessed after three years; permanent residency will not be granted until that reassessment has been approved.

These changes only apply to people arriving en masse which, under the new law, will be defined as more than 11.

Nathan Guy says the Devonport Naval Base on Auckland's North Shore could be used for initial processing.

Those deemed high-risk would then be detained in prison, while those seen as a less of a risk would be kept in the likes of the Mangere Refugee Centre in South Auckland or at an army base, he says.