On anti-mi­grant bland wagon

Bay of Plenty Times - - NATION -

New Zealand First’s 25th an­niver­sary bun­fight wouldn’t have been com­plete with­out a nostal­gic swipe at for­eign­ers. On Mon­day morn­ing, I woke to the dul­cet tones of an “I’m not a rashist” del­e­gate on Na­tional Ra­dio in­sist­ing that “ar­ro­gant” “dis­re­spect­ful” and “down­right ig­no­rant . . . not re­ally New Zealan­ders” from Pak­istan and In­dia should adopt New Zealand values or go home.

This fol­lowed a vote of sup­port for a Re­spect­ing New Zealand Values law.

Party leader and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters told re­porters later that if peo­ple com­ing here to live “didn’t want to salute this coun­try’s law” they shouldn’t be here.

It’s hardly new. Ten years ago, then deputy leader Peter Brown — a Bri­tish mi­grant him­self — was rant­ing about the “real dan­gers” of a flood of Asian mi­grants head­ing this way with no in­ten­tions of in­te­grat­ing into our so­ci­ety. But there is a cer­tain irony about the tim­ing of this lat­est twitch of the party’s xeno­pho­bic in­stincts.

A few weeks ago, Peters, as For­eign Min­is­ter, was be­rat­ing Australia for em­ploy­ing sim­i­larly dra­co­nian anti-mi­grant leg­is­la­tion against er­rant Kiwi mi­grants in Australia.

In a ma­jor speech in Canberra, la­belled “Fair suck of the sav,” Peters pointed out that “many New Zealan­ders ques­tion the de­por­ta­tion of Kiwi pass­port hold­ers to a coun­try they may never re­ally have known be­cause they left at such a young age. And our at­ten­tion can­not but be drawn by the de­por­ta­tion of peo­ple who have not yet been found guilty of crimes in an Aus­tralian court”.

Re­fer­ring to New Zealan­ders’ sense of in­jus­tice at Australia’s de­por­ta­tion pol­icy he ar­gued “the case for giv­ing them a fair go — or as Aus­tralians some­times put it — giv­ing us a fair suck of the sav, is very strong in­deed”.

The Aus­tralian Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter at the time, Peter Dut­ton, gave him the two-fin­gered salute, point­ing to his dis­cre­tionary pow­ers un­der the Mi­gra­tion Act to boot any­one out who broke the law or who, in the min­is­ter’s opin­ion, could pose a threat to the

"The NZ Firsters still live in the ye olde world of the au­thors of the 1946 Do­min­ion Pop­u­la­tion Com­mit­tee Re­port . . ."

com­mu­nity or was not of “good char­ac­ter”.

Hav­ing crit­i­cised the Aus­tralian law, Peters seems to have used it as a draft for one that is even more ap­palling, in that it re­quires mi­grants to sign up to vague “rules” re­spect­ing New Zealand “values”. These in­clude re­spect for gen­der equal­ity, sex­ual pref­er­ences, free­dom of re­li­gion, and oddly, a vow not to cam­paign against al­co­hol con­sump­tion. It’s not clear whether you can still be ex­pelled for fail­ing to get leg­less at an All Blacks game even af­ter at­tain­ing res­i­dency sta­tus or cit­i­zen­ship.

For­tu­nately for our rep­u­ta­tion as a civilised so­ci­ety, such finer de­tails will never have to be re­solved. There’s no signs of New Zealand First’s en­demic anti-Asian itch hav­ing in­fected the body politic as a whole.

The con­cept of a whole class of new cit­i­zens, whose res­i­dency is per­ma­nently bound up by an oath to live by “New Zealand values”, signed as they en­tered the coun­try, pos­si­bly flee­ing from tyranny, is not, as Peters put it, a fair suck of the sav.

The NZ Firsters still live in the ye olde world of the au­thors of the 1946 Do­min­ion Pop­u­la­tion Com­mit­tee Re­port, who were as­signed to find new cit­i­zens for post-war New Zealand. At the time, there were around 1.57 mil­lion of us of whom just 6976 were “race aliens” — peo­ple of nei­ther Euro­pean nor Ma¯ ori ances­try. Of the race aliens, 2943 were Chi­nese, 1261 “Syr­i­ans” and 1200 In­di­ans.

With fierce com­pe­ti­tion for first choice, Bri­tish mi­grants from other white Bri­tish colonies, the com­mit­tee felt “north­ern Euro­pean” looka­likes were next best. South­ern Euro­peans were “itin­er­ant” and to be avoided.

As for the rest of the world. Wash your mouth out and join NZ First.

PHOTO/ALAN GIB­SON

New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters this week said if peo­ple com­ing here to live “didn’t want to salute this coun­try’s law” they shouldn’t be here.

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