Shane Jones to push immigration policy after battle with Indian community

1:49 pm on 6 November 2019

New Zealand First MP Shane Jones is not backing down from comments about the Indian community, saying he will take a population-based migration policy to caucus this weekend.

Auckland Port's days are numbered - Shane Jones

NZ First Minister Shane Jones Photo: RNZ / YouTube

A specific government directive for a hard-line approach to requirements for couples to have lived together for 12 months has led to frustration for Indian couples with arranged marriages.

Those frustrations, which have also targeted Labour and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, were brought to a point when Mr Jones said should get on the first plane home if they were not happy, prompting demands for an apology or his resignation.

He described that backlash as a "Bollywood overreaction", and on RNZ's Morning Report today refused to back down.

"I don't think that I need to walk back anything I've said. I'm a proud retail politician," he said.

"With my whakapapa I go back 1000 years in this country. There were some activists from the Indian migrant community who insulted my leader and who attacked our party because of our government policy."

"The activists said that they feel that they're not wanted in New Zealand so they may as well leave. Well if anyone's going to make that threat, I just said to them 'don't hang around'."

He said arranged marriage was a foreign concept to most New Zealanders.

"Let's face it, for the basic Kiwi [arranged marriage] is a foreign concept. I mean, us Māoris we had arranged marriages 200 years ago but we've had to adapt ... they can't impose directly from Kolkata a concept that us Kiwis never grew up with and I'm entitled to say that. And I'm going to continue to say that."

NZ First leader Winston Peters has previously claimed credit for the government's revised approach, although Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway insists no government directive was given.

Labour appears to have tried to distance itself, with Mr Lees-Galloway asking his officials to come up with a solution in the next few days so Indians are not unfairly excluded.

Mr Jones said that was fair enough "to ensure that arranged marriages aren't an opportunity to rort the system".

"I've no idea what our immigration minister may be looking at but it's totally within his rights to call for a report what actually are the facts of the issue because the facts have got lost as a consequence of the vehemence coming from these radicals."

He said the policy was not all about arranged marriages, either.

"Please talk to garden-variety Pākehās today who I can tell you I have come across in large numbers since 2005 who go through extreme processes in many cases to bring their foreign partners in as wives and husbands. Ask any MP and they will say this is not purely an issue about the immigrants coming from India."

"This is about the changing nature of our societal culture through immigration and I am absolutely empowered with my particular ancestry and lineage to raise these issues in the context of a population policy for the future - face, size, girth and wealth of New Zealand - and you're going to hear a lot more about this from me next year.

He told Morning Report the stoush had prompted him to take population-based migration policy to the coming NZ First caucus retreat.

"I've moved on from that shallow assessment and I'm now taking this weekend to our party caucus retreat a proposal to campaign unstintingly next year on a population policy. In the past five years we've added nigh on half a million people to our population ... I say to all your listeners we're capped out at five million people at a time where the birth rate is actually lower than the post-war boom. How many new Kiwis do we want? What talents should they bring?

"I'll be taking that issue to our caucus and generally ... we rely on the leader and Tracy Martin - they work very closely on these social development issues, more than I do."

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