20 Jan 2010

Strategy needed for boat people - John Key

3:06 pm on 20 January 2010

The Prime Minister says New Zealand could be targeted by boat people, with increasing numbers of refugees trying to sail here.

The Australian government wants New Zealand to take some of a group of 78 Sri Lankan boat people who were involved in a stand-off but won a promise of quick resettlement.

New Zealand is considering admitting 13 of them, subject to security clearance. The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, is recommending they be granted entry as part of this country's annual quota.

They were due to leave an Australian-funded detention centre in Indonesia on Wednesday, initially heading for the Philippines, the ABC reports.

John Key says while no attempts are imminent, there is a risk of this country being targeted by boat people, and the Government must have a strategy in place to deal with that.

He says although New Zealand is geographically isolated, people smugglers are now using larger and more seaworthy boats.