National scared of Winston Peters

Yesterday, the Minister for Immigration, Michael Woodhouse announced a raft of new measures to tackle record numbers of migrants coming to New Zealand. The measures come amid a stagnating and high house prices.

But what  was this: An act of desperation? An act of cynicism? An act by a party that is scared of a wily old foe? The timing suggests it could be a combination of all three.

For years Winston Peters and his New Zealand First party have been a consistent clarion for more sustainable levels of immigration than the 71,000 migrants who flooded into New Zealand last year. National has hit back each time, accusing New Zealand First of wanting to stifle growth and of being xenophobic all the while ignoring the very socio-economic issues that are being fuelled by the rapid population growth.

I have no problems with immigration and nor does the New Zealand First party which I support. Without regard to race or reason for coming, if people want to come here and contribute constructively to New Zealand whether they are on work visas, as tourists, let them. If they want to live here long term as law abiding New Zealanders, let them. Where the problem lies is being able to continue this without the quality of life that those already in New Zealand and those that have lived here all along, enjoy being eroded.

Determining what constitutes a sustainable immigration flow is a tricky question and the answers no doubt depend on what is intended to be gained from the data, its modelling and subsequent outputs. If we are simply looking for a rate of immigration that can be maintained for say a generation, perhaps statistical census data, coupled with regional data sets pertaining to the environment is an appropriate way to go. Geographic Information Systems software can do this in a temporal and/or spatial manner, and other applications can do statistical manipulation.

So, how does this relate to National being scared of Mr Peters? The data sets already exist and National has had eight years to use the data to attempt some modelling, and draw up appropriate policy based on the outcomes. The party might well argue that this is what it is doing now.

But after three terms, knowing history does not favour – with the exception of Keith Holyoake, four term peace time Governments, one cannot help but notice the cynicism of the timing. Now it is election year and National has had three terms in office and is seeking a historic fourth term. It has enjoyed years of riding high in the polls and watching Labour slump to consecutive defeats. It has built itself up on a centrist mandate that former Prime Minister John Key obtained in 2008, renewed in 2011 and again in 2014. Mr Key created a common man image that worked well for him, but has come unstuck on current Prime Minister Bill English.

Come 24 September if this attitude of National continues, the party could very well be in a state of shock, unable – and perhaps unwilling – to admit that perhaps one Winston Peters was right all along.

Is New Zealand selling citizenship to non-New Zealanders?

For years there have been concerns that this Government might be selling citizenship to non-New Zealanders. The concerns have stemmed from the usage of “exceptional circumstances”, which are normally accorded to those fleeing extreme humanitarian danger or other circumstances – such as genocide or civil war.

Now it would appear that new concerns have come to light with the Ministry of Immigration admitting that fewer than half of the 138 people admitted to New Zealand under the aforementioned criteria were actually fleeing such circumstances as those I described.

One of those who has been admitted is an American billionaire named Peter Thiel. The circumstances surrounding this case are unusual, and therefore raise questions. Why was he – for example – granted his citizenship on those grounds, when America is not such an unstable place as to have legitimately grave fears for ones family and own safety? I mean, after all, it is not like there is an act of a genocidal nature going on in the United States. It is not like there is a civil war or other conflict going on that makes his case one of “exceptional humanitarian or other” concern.

If the Minister of Immigration is found to be doing permitting the sale of citizenship to New Zealanders, he should resign from Parliament forthwith in disgrace.

The problem should then become an election issue, as it affects in some respects the very character of New Zealand citizenship that this is happening. Whomever wins the 23 September 2017 General Election needs to amend New Zealand citizenship law quickly after assuming office to:

  1. Forbid the sale of residency or citizenship to anyone
  2. Make it a criminal offence with either a substantial fine or a modest jail sentence to sell citizenship or residency

But before any of this, we need to force the Department of Internal Affairs to tell us why so many people who are being admitted on the aforementioned grounds do not actually comply with them.

Citizenship is earned. So is Permanent Residency. In earlier posts I have mentioned how I think immigration law needs to be reformed. With this still being a problem, clearly New Zealand is not valuing what I believe is one of the most valuable national citizenships that can be awarded anywhere in the world.

And that is a problem.

Michael Woodhouse’s dreadful asylum seeker dilemma

He is a criminal and he knows it. William Nduku used to be a henchman of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Whilst working for Mr Mugabe’s secret police, Mr Nduku committed or has been an accomplice to crimes so ghastly that if convicted in New Zealand, he would have no chance of parole, be under the highest level of security and probably require someone to watch just in case he commits suicide. Rape, torture and murder are just a few of the crimes he has committed.

Now Mr Nduku claims to be turning a leaf. He says he is remorseful for crimes that he says were committed under duress. And he wants to be a refugee in New Zealand.

But if he goes back to Zimbabwe, he WILL be executed. It will probably be after a prolonged and extreme bout of torture. And it is contrary to the legal obligations New Zealand has in human rights law to send someone back to a country where their death is a certainty.

This puts the Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse in a dreadful bind. The man he is considering letting in is a known criminal who has committed appalling offences. But as New Zealand cannot legally deport him back to Zimbabwe, that effectively leaves him stuck. I think with fair certainty we can say no other country will even want to know about his case, much less consider him.

I say we permit him to stay, but he should have restrictions placed on him that reflect his unique case. His long term future in New Zealand should be wholly contingent on him meeting criteria that would be unique in New Zealand immigration:

  1. The rights accorded to him under New Zealand law will be different from those accorded to New Zealand citizens in that the restrictions applicable to him would not be able to be used on N.Z. citizens, permanent residents and those in the process of becoming one of these two criteria
  2. That he be required to submit a full report of the crimes he committed in Zimbabwe
  3. That – at least until authorities are satisfied he poses no threat – he report to the Police as and when required
  4. That permission be needed to travel within New Zealand – keep friends close, keep potential threats even closer

To some people the above measures will seem excessively tough. Stiff cheese. We are going by the word of a confessed criminal who needs to demonstrate he is genuine about turning a new leaf.

To some people the above measures will seem not tough enough. And some of you will say send him back to Zimbabwe – do you want New Zealand to be complicit in the certain and most likely extremely violent death of someone.

If we do let him stay, there are also a host of other issues that make this an exceptionally tough call. He will need a support network as the community reaction is going to be hostile, and he will not know anyone or anything about New Zealand. He is going to be a pariah in the Zimbabwean expat community – I cannot imagine after all the regime crimes that he helped to perpetrate, them wanting a bar of him. Getting a job and holding it down with the eyes of his boss, fellow staff and clients watching his every step might be mission impossible.

I am not a National supporter and I think Mr Woodhouse has been a mediocre Minister of Immigration, but just this once I do sympathize with him. Damned if he does. Damned if he does not.

Good luck.

Our unsustainable immigration problem

Nelson, New Zealand. Population circa 50,000 people. A growing medium size New Zealand city with a climate that makes it popular with retirees, tourists. It is also the size of an urban that is needed every year to soak up the uncontrolled migrant influx into New Zealand.

New Zealand needs to make immigration sustainable. We talk about where 750 refugees per annum are going to go, but no one seems able or willing to discuss the substantial planning headaches that housing 50,000 new migrants per annum pose. Each migrant needs some kind of accommodation. Each unit of accommodation needs running water, electricity, phone line, sewerage disposal as well as a drive way or other appropriate vehicular access. These need to be connected to existing infrastructure.

Our house prices, despite signs of cooling in some areas, are simply not sustainable. And the socio-economic impact that they are having is simply not acceptable. When a school teacher cannot live in a particular town or city and teach there because rents eat up so much of their salary that they cannot do anything with their lives there is a problem. When a house costs $1 million and can go up $50,000 in a day because someone bought the property and then sold it again to make a quick buck, there is a problem – not necessarily suggesting that the speculators are non-New Zealanders.

But this is more than just about council planning. It is more than about house prices, though there is a strong correlation between immigration inflow and demand. This is about protecting the quality of life in New Zealand. This is about protecting our country from criminal and terrorist elements, about protecting our way of life so that it may be enjoyed by all who come to live here and be good law abiding New Zealanders.

Most immigrants come in peace. I welcome them. The ones that come here to rort the system, use this land in support of criminal activity or commit terrorism, the next door you will see is that of a jail cell. Whether you come out of it again or not depends on what you did to justify seeing said jail cell in the first place.

I do not want to ever as a New Zealand citizen see this country reach the stage where we despise immigrants. I say this not least because we are a land of immigrants. We came over on boats in the in the first 100 years of New Zealand and since the advent of mass air transport, immigrants have arrived by plane. If we should ever reach this stage, it means New Zealand has failed as a nation in its primary task to be the land of all that is good and fair.

But we may reach that day at some point if this unsustainable immigration continues.

Exploitation of foreign workers must stop

Too often we are hearing about non-New Zealanders finding only after being subject to mistreatment that they have employment rights and that there are penalties for the employer if they fail to abide. The most common complaint is underpayment of wages, but other issues such as hours worked and being allowed to take statutory holidays are also common.

The Opposition say that the Government is not taking the issue seriously. More over it is deliberately allowing large numbers of foreign students into the country and then ignoring the deliberate underpayment of them, when they try to find work to sustain themselves here. It is failing to properly check the validity of their visas and a number of scammers are at work knowing there are loopholes which are not being closed, according to New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

Many of the people being short changed are from India and and were unaware of their rights before arriving. Their visa agent failed to inform them of their rights and responsibilities, and in some cases may have taken the fee and bolted. And – for those who are lucky enough to get here – when they arrived in New Zealand and found work, their employer failed to do due diligence and ensure their new employee/s know how they should be treated. Others are from China and because of corrupted practices in their country, expectations about what to expect in New Zealand with regards to employment law are lower. None of them are likely to be aware that there are methods of redress that can be taken.

Prime Minister John Key is currently in India negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. Among the issues he should have raised are the scammers at work who issue fraudulent visas. Mr Key should have also told his Indian counter part Narendra Modi that New Zealand will clamp down on the issuing of fraudulent visas. In New Zealand he should be announcing a plan to to require all parties issuing visas to be registered with Immigration New Zealand and have a certificate of compliance that gets renewed annually. New Zealand is better than what I have described above. New Zealanders do not treat people like that – we should know and act better.