As might have been expected the visit here of the most senior German politician since Angela Merkel in 2014 has produced polite suggestions  that we take more Syrian refugees.

The Speaker of the Bundestag, Prof Norbert Lammert spent most of Saturday morning at the Auckland Refugee Resettlement Centre in Mangere talking to New Zealand immigration officials and then meeting refugees.

In an exclusive interview with POLITIK, he said that he believed that the world would probably be confronted with continued  immigration over the coming years.

“There is no serious way to prevent migration,’ he said.

“But it would make it easier for all countries being confronted with the challenge of migration if we could agree on a fair distribution of the share of migrants.”

He conceded that didn’t even happen in Europe let alone with countries like Australia and New Zealand which were on the “periphery”.

But asked if he thought New Zealand should do more, his answer was blunt. “I think it could do more,” he said.

It is no secret that Germany is looking for countries to relieve it of some of the burden of the 1,000,000 plus refugees from Syria who have entered the country in recent years.

Before Professor Lammert’s visit, there were hints that Germany would see an increase in New Zealand’s Syrian refugee intake as being a positive political move which might help pous the free trade agreement with the EU along.

He said that New Zealand had demonstrated it could accept refugees from Syria and resettle them.


But current planning allows for only 250 a year;  small change alongside the huge numbers in Germany and even Australia.

Australia has undertaken to settle 12,000 Syrian refugees, but as of last weekend, only 3500 have been admitted in the 12 months since the undertaking was made.

These comparisons had obviously not escaped Professor Lammert.

“If I compare the sheer numbers in relation to the total number  of inhabitants (in New Zealand) and in relation to the space available, there does seem to be room for more,” he said.

But he said Germany also wanted European countries to take their share of refugees.

Professor Lammert will meet the Prime Minister on Wednesday, but he will also speak at a function in Parliament on Wednesday night to mark the 20th anniversary of MMP.

New Zealand was the first country outside Germany to adopt the MMP electoral system which the victorious allies imposed on Germany at the end of the Second World War.

One of their intentions was that the thresholds built into MMP would limit the ability of extremist parties to gain a stranglehold on the German electoral system.

That worked until recently with only three or four parties in the Bundestag, but now the Alternative For Germany anti-immigration party looks likely to reach the threshold and will, therefore, get seats at the next German elections next year.

So has MMP failed in Germany?

 He says that the objective of an electoral system is not to prevent change but to represent the wishes of the voters.

“I’m convinced that a proportional system is fairer than simple majority systems,” he said.

“But it depends on your political perspective whether you like an electoral system or not.”

The rise of Alternative for Germany and the threat it poses to his party, the Christian Democrats is one of the reasons why Germany wants to see other countries – like New Zealand – help solve its refugee problems.