Greens committed to a tolerant diverse New Zealand

The Green Party’s Human Rights Policy, launched at a special multi-ethnic event in Auckland today, outlines a vision where all people are treated fairly and equally.

The policy, to be launched by Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and Human Rights spokesperson Keith Locke, seeks to strengthen New Zealand’s commitment to human rights, at home and abroad.

“This will be a positive event, celebrating the ethnic diversity of our nation, not grumping about it, as some politicians are doing,” said Mr Locke.

“The Greens stand for a tolerant, diverse society, where everyone gets a fair go. The launch is a timely counter to the xenophobia of New Zealand First, which is cultivating a culture of fear towards new migrants, particularly refugees.

“We say New Zealand has come a long way since the anti-migrant ‘dawn raids’ of the eighties, but we need to redouble our efforts to create a country where people are welcomed and respected, regardless of their race, gender, religious or political belief. Human rights will be strengthened on several fronts. We want to ensure that all legislation is consistent with our Bill of Rights, and that anti-discrimination protections are extended to those with a disability.

“The Green Party is committed to giving more assistance to migrants and refugees, helping them with access to jobs, housing, education and health services. We will progressively increase New Zealand’s refugee quota from 750 a year to 1000, and ensure that asylum seekers are treated humanely, with detention only used in exceptional cases where a genuine security risk can be identified. We will entrench the independence of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, to stop its decisions being overridden by a government Minister, as has happened in the case of Ahmed Zaoui.

“New Zealand is enriched by the presence of so many ethnic communities, and we are proposing to give more assistance to them, firstly by setting up a stand-alone Ministry of Ethnic Affairs,” Mr Locke said.

“New Zealand must also be a good international citizen, with human rights advocacy a part of all our dealings with other countries, including trade negotiations. The Greens would also establish a timetable to reach the United Nations’ overseas aid target of 0.7 percent by 2015.

“We have a responsibility to use our wealth and influence to promote peace, sustainability and human rights within the international community,” Mr Locke said.