Labour could learn from New Zealand First about immigration

Today Labour leader Andrew Little said something totally remarkable for a Labour leader, but not at all remarkable in New Zealand politics. He acknowledged immigration in New Zealand needs to be controlled. In noting this, it is interesting that Andrew Little and Labour have only now started to raise a point that New Zealand First has been raising for most of the 22 years it has existed as a political party: immigration needs to be sustainable.

People confuse New Zealand First’s immigration stance with xenophobia, when there are quite clear cut differences. Xenophobia is a fear or mistrust of other ethnic groups in a particular country by its native citizens and often leads to attacks on minorities. In the case of New Zealand, yes xenophobia definitely exists in the case of organizations such as Right Wing Resistance, who believe New Zealand’s European heritage is being eroded by other cultures. But to call a centrist-nationalist party in Parliament xenophobic just because it is doing all parties should be doing. Putting New Zealand first promotes the needs of New Zealand and New Zealanders first and foremost, and there is nothing wrong about that.

The simple fact in New Zealand is that every person who lives here by New Zealand law and the international treatises we are signatory to and a ratifier of, has some basic needs that we legally and morally obliged to provide:

  • Housing – everyone must be allowed to have a roof over their head
  • Sanitation – the housing must have adequate sanitation
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Clean drinking water

There are others – these are just an indicator of what I am writing about. For each dwelling built, there must be electricity, running water, sewerage disposal and a driveway. This means that the local government planners in District/City/Regional Councils and building inspectors in district/city councils have to ensure that a proposed development has allowed for all of this and that it can be attached to existing infrastructure. All that requires physical resources, which have to be found and/or developed. Somehow also there needs to be allowance for storm water run off.

The people who live here obviously also all need jobs. Children have to go to school/kindergarten/creche, which creates zoning issues if local schools are full with little or no room for expansion without diminishing the learning environment.

By all means come to New Zealand. If you are willing to learn about New Zealand culture and society and be an active participant in it, come. If you are a refugee or political asylum seeker trying to get away from a horrible overseas situation where you and your family are being actively persecuted, the door is open.

It just so happens that at the end of the day if immigration is unsustainable, not only will the quality of life New Zealand permanent residents and citizens are able to enjoy, diminish, but so will the quality of life we can offer those that move here. Sustainable immigration is therefore not at all xenophobic, but rather plain common sense.

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