1 Oct 2018

The country would be a 'hell hole' without NZ values - Winston Peters

12:54 pm on 1 October 2018

There are countless examples of people not respecting NZ values, says New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

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Photo: RNZ / Jo Moir

NZ First passed a remit to introduce a Respecting New Zealand Values Bill for migrants and refugees at the party's annual conference over the weekend.

Respect for gender equality, legal sexual preferences, freedom of religion and a commitment not to campaign against alcohol consumption are among the values the Bill includes.

Mr Peters told Morning Report people signing up to NZ values would help to deter the mass exploitation of migrants including of Indian students and of new nationals in the restaurant trade.

"One of our values is that we do have a minimum wage, we do have minimum work standards and if people are massively exploited then there has to be consequences for those people that do that. Frequently, it's been done to their own."

These things should be unacceptable, he said.

"If they're coming into the country, then they should be asked before they actually sign up, 'do you understand what it entails?'"

"Canada does it, Australia does it, France does it, what's the big deal here?"

In many ways New Zealand has built a special country based on the values it has spent that past 150 years talking about, he said.

"We've spent the last 150 plus years as a country trying to develop New Zealand values, it hasn't been a total success but it hasn't been a total failure either."

New Zealand hasn't quite achieved these values but they are tangible, he said.

"The moment you take them away, you begin to realise what a hell hole we would be."

While some people in the party take this further than others, it is an important debate to have, he said.

"If you don't like those things, then perhaps maybe you should go to some other country."

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said Mr Peters' position was based on the assumption problems were being imported, when these already existed in New Zealand.

"Presenting ourselves as the harbinger of these values is creating a cultural hierarchy that is actually going to cause disharmony more than anything in New Zealand," she told RNZ.

When asked whether such a policy would make it untenable to work with NZ First after the next election, she said the question was a ''distant hypothetical".

Mr Peters said Ms Ghahraman had presented a "desperate argument".

"What justification could that be, that because some New Zealanders do it, then it should be carte blanch for some new New Zealanders to do it."