Population policy no excuse for Shane Jones’ dog whistling

The comments by Shane Jones that Indians not happy with the Government’s new visa policy should catch the next flight home highlight a wayward Minister, but also remind me that we are still waiting for wholesale policy on population growth. In particular I am concerned that New Zealand has still not worked out a humane, but firm immigration policy and that development of it seems to be hindered by partisan politics.

New Zealand has long struggled to get develop an immigration policy that gets the best out of both sustainable population growth whilst being a forward, progressive looking nation. We are a small nation that needs to ensure that our infrastructure, communities and social policy planning are integrated in a way that keeps the growth at rate that can be maintained without enabling xenophobic attitudes to develop. At the same time skilled workers and those who want to come and contribute proactively to New Zealand society, need to be afforded a realistic chance of doing so.

All too frequently I see articles in the media about employers who have emigrated from other countries and gained Manager certificates here abusing their staff. Much of it happens in the liquor and hospitality sectors. Very often their staff are from the same countries of origin as they are.

But there are also a number of instances of visa fraud in New Zealand. Much of this activity stems from illegal agents in countries overseas who Immigration New Zealand is aware of, but is reliant on their host country to stamp out. In this case, much of it stems from a substantial growth in Chinese visitors to New Zealand, the number of which has nearly doubled in 5 years.

New Zealand First had a population policy advocated for by former Member of Parliament, Denis O’Rourke. However it was a very conservative and in many respects not realistic one that was based on there being only 5 million people in the country. New Zealand will probably reach 5 million people late next decade.

However the kind of dog whistling that Mr Jones involved himself in when commenting on the complaints by the Indian community about his suggestion that they catch the next flight home was combative, boorish and unbecoming of a Minister of the Crown. Nor do I believe that Indians intend to bring “the whole village over” as Mr Jones implied. And historically it is of the nature that helped to get New Zealand First, whom Mr Jones is a List M.P. for, ejected from Parliament at the 2008 election.

I cannot imagine Mr Jones making an apology even if Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asks him to. But his propensity for making ill judged and in this case inflammatory comments will cost the Government if he is not reined in.





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