by Daphna Whitmore

When Winston Peters praises your immigration policy you know you have hit a new low. This week Labour announced it will slash immigration numbers and Peters teased they were being a bit xenophobic, and then praised them for putting New Zealand whistle

Andrew Little explained Labour’s new policy with claims that migrants are clogging up the roads, filling the houses and taking jobs. It’s time for a breather on immigration the Labour Party website announced. They will cut immigration by tens of thousands.

“We’ve always welcomed migrants to our country and will continue to do so”, claims Little, while banging the anti-immigration drum. Labour has been at it for some time now in the hope of garnering votes. The problem Labour faces is their stance is not attractive to young voters who have a more progressive outlook and are inclined to see migrants as humans. The Spinoff has written about the findings of UMR survey, which showed that 18-29 year olds tended towards openness and accommodation on migration, and overall New Zealanders were positive about immigration.

Labour is going after student visas and has denounced diploma courses as a backdoor to residency. How terrible that working class people from other parts of the world may want to have freedom to move, to study, to work and better their lives.

Still, Little wants to be able to cherrypick and take skilled workers from abroad and shut out the less skilled.  This is typical capitalist politics where immigration controls are used to control the movement of labour and wages. Workers are brought in to be exploited when needed and thrown out when it suits the government. That’s what Little means when he says immigrants will continue to be welcomed.

New Zealand’s already harsh immigration policies were on full display two days before Labour’s announcement when the courts upheld the deportation of a blind 5 year old girl on medical grounds. Not a peep from Labour who were busy fine-tuning their dog whistles. As for the Greens and NZ First, they both want a cap on migrants, so for forward-thinking people the ballot paper might be best screwed up and popped in the bin.

Labour hopes to pretty-up its package by saying they’ll double the refugee quota. Next year the refugee quota goes up from a tiny 750 to 1000 people. So Labour is looking at taking 2000 refugees.

How does New Zealand stack-up on the humanitarian front compared to other countries?  Lebanon with a population of 5.8m – just a bit bigger than NZ’s 4.5m – is home to an estimated 1.15m refugees, the largest in the world in per capita terms. That’s 209 per 1000 people, where New Zealand has 0.3 per 1000 people. We compare poorly to Australia 1.5, Canada 4.19, the Netherlands 4.8 and Sweden 14.6. In fact New Zealand’s intake per capita was the lowest in the Western world bar Japan.

Labour will double that, keeping it in the realm of pathetic.


  1. Susanne K says:

    On the pro-Labour blog The Standard, someone reckoned that immigration draws a clear battle-line between National and Labour. Well, if that is true, Labour is on the wrong and xenophobic side of that battle-line and National is on the liberal side of it.

    People on the left who think Labour are the ‘lesser-evil’ are just nuts these days. I don’t support lesser-evil politics, but if I did I’d have to say the Nats are probably a wee bit lesser evil than Labour, especially in terms of the downtrodden masses of the world.

    Susanne K

  2. Thomas R says:

    Whatever the weakness of Corbyn’s Labour, I have a strong suspicion Labour will not lap up 65% of all young voters in a 72% turn out. I’d be surprised if 65% of people between 18-24 show up to vote a t all this year.

  3. […] Labour on immigration – from bad to worse […]