Weekend Sun column

Friday, September 11, 2015

On Monday Cabinet decided that New Zealand will settle 750 Syrian refugees over the next two and half years. This is made up of a special emergency intake of 600 and 150 from within the current annual refugee quota.

The New Zealand Government is providing a further $4.5 million to help refugees displaced by fighting in Syria, bringing New Zealand’s total humanitarian contribution to the refugee crisis to $20 million.

We have a responsibility to do our bit in response to the crisis in Syria, and this response is appropriate. We must ensure that we can maintain the level of support we provide to refugees to help settle in their communities and ensure the best outcome for them possible.

The annual refugee quota, which is currently set at 750, is due to be reviewed next year.

It is expected that many of the refugees will be settled in Wellington, given there is already and established Syrian community there and the pressures on Auckland housing at the moment.

On the topic of housing, the Government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart package, which came into effect on 1 April, is projected to help 90,000 people get into their first home over the next five years. The first quarterly report shows that 6788 applications have already been made to access grants of up to $10,000 for an existing home, or $20,000 for a newly-built home.

Housing affordability and parents worrying about their children being able to get onto the property is a common concern that I hear, especially as more and more Aucklanders are starting to realise the fantastic lifestyle and opportunities the Bay has to offer.

Alongside the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas, we are committed to helping more people get into their own home.