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The Sleeper Awakes - Winston Peters Speech

Rt Hon Winston Peters

Hamilton Public Meeting

Hamilton Marist Rugby Club

Boundary Road, Hamilton

1.00pm Thursday 18 July 2002

The Sleeper Awakes

Throughout this campaign New Zealand First has been pilloried, mocked and ridiculed by what passes for political commentators in New Zealand.

This is despite the fact that we have offered New Zealanders the clearest and most coherent campaign message.

Ours is the only party that has dedicated its election campaign - simply - directly - boldly to the rights of ordinary Kiwis:

- The right to walk our streets in safety.

- The right to stand together as equals.

- The right to stop being swamped by a flood of immigrants

In doing so we knew our campaign would face a severe handicap, because we did not design it to fit this year’s fashion. The commentators decided that the height of fashion in this election is the GE issue.

Fashion is often about novelty - and the Greens excel at it.

There is room for fashion but when it displaces substance in an election campaign the public needs to be on its guard

The dictates of fashion may suggest that this election will be labeled the GE election but the things we are campaigning on - Law and Order -The Treaty industry - Immigration - are fundamental.

New Zealand First is committed to fixing them.

In view of their bitter acrimony over “Corngate” and GE ultimatums, serious doubt now exists as to whether Labour and the Greens can provide stable Government for New Zealand over a parliamentary term.

Therefore the choice for New Zealanders in this election is stark:

- do people want New Zealand First to play the honest broker to Labour and get fundamental dangers to our society fixed?

- or alternatively do people want to endure a Parliament where the fads, fancies and obsessions of Green politics hold the future of this country to ransom?


Early in this election campaign one thing became disturbingly clear, neither Labour nor National had the guts to talk about immigration.

They simply chose to ignore it.

Immigration was what some political commentators called a “sleeper issue”.

Well despite the best efforts of Labour and National this sleeper is awakening.

New Zealand First has succeeded in bringing immigration out into the open and most New Zealanders - even those who do not support us - give us full marks for putting it on the election agenda

New Zealanders know that immigration is important - far too important to allow the infantile name calling and sneering that the other parties have directed at New Zealand First to succeed in stifling debate.

So why is New Zealand First fighting for a long term and prudent immigration policy?

But first let us make ourselves absolutely clear:

- We do not blame people for wanting to come to New Zealand.

- We are not anti-Asian - anti-African or anti-European or anti-anyone

- We affirm the rights and responsibilities of all New Zealand citizens, regardless of whether they were born here - or have been a New Zealand citizen for 3 weeks or three decades.

New Zealand First is a one country party and has been throughout its nine years - nine years today in fact!

If our immigration policy did not make sense for citizens who are themselves recent immigrants we would not advocate it.


The most important characteristic of a realistic immigration policy is getting the numbers right - immigration is not about feelings - it’s about numbers

With a population under 4 million New Zealand is a small society, half the size of many Asian cities, and our capacity to absorb migrants is severely limited.

But is there a scrap of evidence that the Government has given the actual volume of migrants entering New Zealand the slightest thought?


- This is a country that is now granting permanent residence to as many people as New Zealanders are being born.

- This is now a country where almost 1 in 5 New Zealand residents were born overseas (1 in 3 people in the Auckland region were born overseas)

- This is a country were the counts of people of Asian ethnicity have more than doubled between 1991 and 2001 - there are now more people of Asian ethnicity than Pacific peoples ethnicity.

Compare our policy to Australia - a country that has nearly seven times our population.

In Australia immigration policy has a sense of scale, a sense of proportion and balance, and a sense that immigration volumes have to be actively monitored and managed.

In short, Australia has what we lack - an immigration policy that incorporates some serious thinking on the numbers.

New Zealand First lays down this challenge to Labour: tell New Zealand how many overseas born migrants you are going to grant residence to over the term of the next Parliament.

Give New Zealand the numbers, put them on the table!

And then we will see if immigration is still a “sleeper” issue.

Social Cohesion

Fundamental to a realistic immigration policy is linking it to the bigger picture - a vision of the society we are trying to build in New Zealand.

New Zealand is a fragile society and still in the process of forging a unique national identity. One group of New Zealanders has found itself facing persistent disadvantage.

But how exactly is a mass influx of migrants going to help overcome Maori disadvantage?

In 2000 the Labour Government made a big issue of the “gaps” but now it is embarrassed to be reminded of them. Has Labour done anything to connect its policy toward Maori with immigration?

The answer is no!

Similarly, have we been outstandingly successful in absorbing and helping Pacific people into a full and meaningful citizenship in New Zealand society?

Or is it still the case for many Pacific people who have settled here that they face an uphill struggle for themselves and their children?

There is only one thing worse than a mindless open door immigration policy as practiced by this Government and that is this: encouraging people to enter and then washing our hands of them.

A sane immigration policy would not tolerate conditions that will consign migrants to second class status.

New Zealand First is absolutely committed to equal opportunities and treatment for all New Zealanders.

An open door immigration policy is foolish - but ignoring the plight of immigrants afterwards only compounds the folly.

Our present unthinking approach is already leading to the emergence of enclaves of people with little incentive, or need, to integrate with the wider New Zealand community.

Do we really want to see the emergence of impoverished immigrant ghettoes?

New Zealand First believes New Zealand must, at all costs, avoid the creation of an immigrant underclass, because that has already occurred in places that have allowed large scale, unplanned immigration such as the UK and Canada

The unpalatable fact is that the consequence of ever-larger numbers of unassimilated people in New Zealand will be heightened tension and social conflict

New Zealand First asks:

Is it really wise to be allowing a mass influx of immigrants - from countries with very different cultural backgrounds?

Do we have values?

Do we believe in certain things?

Do we think democracy, free speech and the rule of law matter?

If so - we should exercise care when allowing large numbers of migrants from societies where these things are not part of their values system.

Alleged Economic Benefits

There is lot of propaganda put out about the alleged economic benefits of immigration.

What we do know is that high levels of immigrants can depress wages and working conditions. This is especially true for low-skill workers such as the young and the disadvantaged - including of course earlier migrants.

Despite the Government’s protestations many immigrants are unskilled - they compete directly for the entry-level opportunities that used to be the stepping stones for our young people to enter the work force.

The Government also talks grandly about building a “knowledge economy” but what it actually does is allow high levels of immigration that enable big business to prolong dependency on cheap labour rather than turning to capital investment and innovation.

Under family reunification, family members do not have to meet skills and language requirements. So letting in unqualified relatives has meant that despite having allowed thousands of immigrants into New Zealand we are told we face a more serious skills shortage than ever.

Immigrants beget immigrants because of the priority given to bringing in members of extended families -spouses - parents -siblings - dependent children.

As a result, the arrival of a single qualified individual can eventually lead to the entry of large numbers of relatives and dependents without any qualifications or obvious benefit to New Zealand.

How exactly is this supposed to be in New Zealand’s interests?

The Government cannot tell us.

An Open Debate

If New Zealand is ever going to get a realistic immigration policy we have to be able to talk about immigration issues without idiots throwing around terms like “racism’ “Asian-bashing’ or other schoolyard sneers.

Despite attempts to suppress it, immigration is moving up the political agenda.

This may not be apparent to Labour and National -who share a strong interest in suppressing rising public concern over out of control immigration

And although the media have had an appalling record of silence and neglect on immigration - maybe the worm is turning.

For example, recently we had one of New Zealand’s more respected journalist’s Warwick Rodger turning his mind to immigration in the Christchurch Press. Some of the points he made could have come straight from a New Zealand First press statement. Let me give the flavour of his article - he said: “.... what I object to is the way this immigration thing has been done by stealth.”

“I don’t recall there being any widespread national debate, aside from Winston Peters raising it from time to time, as to how many immigrants we want, what sort of immigrants we want, and where they ought to come from.”

“Rather it seems to me that we’ve had a wave of immigration imposed on us by politicians and bureaucrats with only the scantiest public debate. The result is that there are now whole suburbs in Auckland where the English language is no longer spoken.”

Warwick Roger then goes on to link immigration to the Treaty of Waitangi and ruminates on whether politicians and government officials gave any thought to the Treaty when they were formulating their secret immigration polices.

He concludes: “I very much doubt it and predict trouble ahead.”


But you know what is remarkable.

If Winston Peters had said those things Lianne Dalzeil for Labour and Pansy Wong for National would have been jumping up and down lambasting me for “bashing’ immigrants

They are more circumspect about attacking the media.


Ladies and Gentlemen, today New Zealand First is asking all New Zealanders some serious questions:

Are you outraged that your birthright is being treated with reckless contempt by a Government without a clue where its open door immigration policy is taking this country?

Are you outraged that the Government is giving away New Zealand citizenship like lotto tickets?

Are you outraged that people we have generously allowed to enter New Zealand as refugees are now suing the Government for $150,000 for being illegally detained?

Are you outraged that someone can come here, commit a serious sex crime, be deported and then through marrying a relative gain permanent residence?

Are you outraged that our immigration laws have become a mockery through bogus marriages and other scams that the immigration service is helpless to tackle?

Immigration is a time bomb with a slow burning fuse

Labour is hoping that the bomb does not explode before 27 July.

They should not count on it!

Immigration to New Zealand is out of control, and the voters of this country are telling New Zealand First loud and clear: speak for New Zealand!

Can we fix it?

Yes we can!

Then give NZ First your Party Vote


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