Migration Speech Extract Hon Richard Prebble
Sunday 10th Dec 2000
The Australian government has decided that New Zealand is a liability and not an asset. It was revealed yesterday that the Government is preparing to let Australia cut permanent residency rights for New Zealanders, meaning we would be treated the same as other migrants. New Zealanders with valuable skills will still be able to migrate and gain residency. It is Labour’s own supporters who will now be unable to go to Australia.
ACT has been told that the Australian minister gave our government a choice – free entry to Australia and our government pays Kiwi welfare costs or immigration restrictions. If the Clark/Anderton cabinet believed their own propaganda about a growing economy, they would have honoured the spirit of CER and picked up the welfare bill.
But they, like the Australians, know the New Zealand economy is in terminal decline. Why would the Australians, if they thought the New Zealand economy was going to turn around, be proposing immigration restrictions targeting the unskilled, those who are most marginalised in an under-performing economy?
The changes represent a significant shift in the ANZAC relationship which, since the signing of CER, has been getting closer. It also represents the worst foreign policy defeat of any New Zealand government and has compromised years of goodwill.
The Australians recently described our contribution in defence as “useless”. Clearly decisions like the cancelling of ANZAC frigates, F16s, and the refusal to go ahead with the Orion upgrade – all projects important to Australia, have convinced the Australians that Labour is anti partnership and a convinced isolationist.
So the Australians are giving to most New Zealanders the isolation that Helen Clark seeks. Most Labour supporters will now have no choice but to live in this country.
As a country we are paying a high price for our Prime Minister’s practice of making cheap political points as the expense of Australian ministers – playing the man and not the ball. Clearly the Australians have had enough.
In just one week talks about welfare entitlements have escalated to a decision on residency restrictions for New Zealanders.