12 Apr 2013

Opposition parties won't support immigration laws

10:41 pm on 12 April 2013

Opposition parties say they will still not support legislation addressing a potential mass arrival of asylum seekers, despite changes made to the bill.

The Immigration Amendment Bill reported back from a select committee in August last year, but the Government did not have the support to progress it further as United Future leader Peter Dunne had reservations.

However the Government now has the numbers to press ahead, after Mr Dunne negotiated changes in exchange for his support.

As drafted, the legislation would have meant asylum seekers arriving in a group of 11 or more could be detained under a group warrant, and Mr Dunne said he felt that definition was harshly restrictive.

"It would potentially rule out a large family arriving, for example."

Mr Dunne said on Friday he has negotiated a change so that number will be raised to 30,

and while he would like a higher figure, he is pleased to have moved the Government to that point.

He says he will now support the legislation through the House.

Labour MP Darien Fenton says her party will still not support the legislation, because the idea of mass detention is wrong and unnecessary.

"There is no chance, I'd say about a 99 percent chance, that a boat could make its way all the way from Indonesia through Australia to New Zealand without stopping somewhere. And if they don't claim asylum when they stop, they actually are disqualified from claiming asylum."

The Greens say the bill is a over-reaction, as there is very little chance of an asylum seeker boat ever making it to New Zealand.