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Key happy with boat people number

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Latest Political News | Thursday February 14 2013 12:03

Key happy with boat people number

The Prime Minister says he doesn't care how New Zealand meets its refugee obligations, so long as it meets its quota.

John Key told Newstalk ZB the agreement announced last week to resettle 150 boat people from Australia is simply part of New Zealand's refugee obligations.

AUDIO: Prime Minister John Key joins Newstalk ZB's Leighton Smith in studio

"Whether they come from the Sudan, or a camp that's in Tasmania, to me it doesn't matter too much," Mr Key says.

He says it doesn't matter where refugees are settled from, but it makes sense to assist with those closer to home.

John Key says accepting 750 refugees a year is the right number of people to bring in for a country the size of New Zealand.

The Prime Minister says last week's talks with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had opened a number of new ideas.

He says he's pushing for Australia to open its doors for more Kiwi-born students to qualify for Australian student loans.

John Key says Australia could stand to ease its requirements on Australian residents born in New Zealand and grant them greater access.

He says it doesn't make sense for those who have settled across the Tasman to be excluded.

"It's not actually that logical for Australia to sit there and say that if you were born in New Zealand and moved to Australia when you were two-years-old that you're not illegible or excluded for an Australian student loan."

Back home, the Prime Minister's confident good progress is being made in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, despite it taking longer than first expected.

The government had initially aimed to complete the settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims by 2014.

John Key told Newstalk ZB's Leighton Smith there's been 59 settlements since the settlement process began.

Of those, he says 44 have been completed by a National-led government, and 33 of those completed by his government over the last four years.

But Mr Key admits the initial completion date will most likely be pushed further out.

"It might take a bit longer than 2014, that's the ambition - to get there by then, but I think we will get through it.

"I think there will be some Maori who never want to give up, and will always have claims for contemporary issues like wind, which I think we should utterly reject as a country. But in terms of land claims, I think we'll get them settled."

Mr Key is adamant once the settlements are finalised, there's no going back.

"That's one of the reasons they take a bit longer, they've got to be full and final.

"Our government would never entertain looking at one that's been completed, because it would completely unravel the whole process and I don't actually believe a Labour government would either."

Mr Key says while the settlement process may seem cumbersome to some people, it's important everyone's views are aired.

"There are some areas where you need to consult with Maori quite legitimately, and their views have to be taken into consideration, as do the views of everyone else. I'm just saying their views have to be taken into consideration."

Key wouldn't be drawn on the comments made by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser, but said a small number of New Zealanders would sympathise with them.

"Winston Peters won't be bothered in the slightest that he said it because he'll be thinking quietly in the living rooms some New Zealanders who agree with him," he says.

Photo: John Key (Getty Images)

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