Our Immigration Crisis
An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting in Auckland Central, Tuesday 13 September 2005, Alexandra Park Function Centre (Rutherford Room), Alexandra Park Raceway, Cnr Greenlane & Manukau Road, Auckland, 1:30pm
Our Immigration Crisis – And Why New Zealand First Is The Only Party That Can Fix It
Funny things happen on the campaign trail. Yesterday I made a number of statements about the National party candidate for Tauranga. Predictably, the media described this as being desperate and gutter politics.
The reality is that a newspaper alerted me to the information at the weekend, and the circumstances surrounding it are significant.
If one is going to go into public office, then one should be prepared to debate facts. In two radio interviews this morning, the National candidate still refused to debate and the reason is clear – he can’t. And over this day, the public will hear the other side of the story, and the facts will speak for themselves.
In this week’s Herald on Sunday – one MP leaving parliament (along with all her other colleagues, although she jumped before she was pushed) spoke glowing about one coming in from another party.
Former Act MP Deborah Coddington noted what a fabulous acquisition to New Zealand First Susan Baragwanath is.
I couldn’t agree more – she is a woman of the utmost integrity, drive and talent and will make a splendid MP.
Her work with young teenage mothers – providing them with educational opportunities when others would have happily consigned them to life’s scrap heap – is both admirable and a perfect training ground for parliament.
It required persistence, dedication and a determination to see things through to their conclusion.
We are honoured she will join our strong caucus and New Zealand will benefit from her presence in parliament.
Last week New Zealand First announced that we will be staying out of formal coalition with either Labour or National and that we would ensure that the next government would have stability over the next three years.
We would ensure that the party with the most seats following the election would be able to form a government.
We thought this was pretty straightforward – yet some in the media said there was confusion just because they could not understand it.
Either these journalists are too stupid to understand what is a straightforward position or they are trying to make mischief to undermine our position – just as they have done so throughout this campaign.
It seems they were in collusion to ensure that our policies never received a fair hearing – but that we were portrayed as devious because they couldn’t understand that we didn’t – and still don’t – support either Labour or National’s package.
Both are short-sighted and ignore many of the fundamentals that New Zealand is crying out for.
I had hoped it would never have come to this – but let us state again our position.
We will not be entering into formal coalition with either Labour or National.
We do believe that the party with the most seats following the election should have the right to try and form a government and we will provide confidence and supply to that party if it is necessary.
And we will be voting on all legislation on an issue-by-issue basis – according to our principles, our manifesto and in the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders.
We don’t know how we can say it any more clearly – and we call on the media to start reporting the policies that count, not some muddled confusion which is all in their heads.
We have tried to make this election about the policies.
We have focussed on our five policy priorities:
Our seniors policy;
Our law and order policy;
Our Treaty policy;
Our immigration policy;
And our economic plan for all New Zealanders.
We have also highlighted what we will oppose.
We will always fight greater foreign ownership of our assets and land.
We will fight any further attacks on traditional family values.
We will fight any move to soften our drug laws.
And we will fight any reduction in our health and education services.
We have made no secret of what we are for and what we are against.
We trust that the voting public will judge us accordingly.
Now I want to deal with one issue which we will continue to fight for in New Zealand’s interests – immigration.
It is interesting that the recent case of a Somali woman who was deported after years of living here illegally again revealed just a glimpse of the pit of corruption which has infested our immigration system.
This Somali woman had created a false identity to claim refugee status – and then set about in a premeditated fashion to bring in her extended family.
Judge David Saunders said this woman’s case amounted to “people smuggling” and handed her one of the harshest possible penalties under our laws.
As the prosecution lawyer Pip Currie pointed out with some conviction – this system is inherently corrupt and yet so little is done to combat it.
Ms Currie highlighted that New Zealand citizenship was a “precious commodity” which needed protecting.
We in New Zealand First agree.
There has been a lack of will on behalf of successive government’s to tackle immigration corruption.
The system is like the proverbial sieve leaking undesirables at will.
Now when we launched our immigration policy earlier this year the Labour party scoffed at us.
We had said we would establish an “immigration inspectorate” to end immigration corruption within the system.
They scoffed at this – but then in the ultimate hypocrisy set up their flying squad to do exactly what we were proposing.
But this how disingenuous they are – they dismantled the squad six weeks later once the heat had gone out of the issue.
Now do you remember what had led to the heat in the first place – it was a member of Saddam Hussein’s government walking the streets of New Zealand without immigration even realising he was here.
If you ever need proof of how corrupt and incompetent our system was – it was paraded there for all to see.
But this revelation is really just the tip of the iceberg.
The short lived immigration squad set up by the government had only just begun to uncover the extent of immigration crime in this country.
You see there were literally hundreds of files outlining corrupt activities – most of which had gone untouched.
Labour had been claiming that New Zealand First had been using particular cases to grandstand.
But what we had been doing was using particular cases to highlight this government’s incompetence.
But the vast majority of cases which came over our desks were sent to the minister to be investigated.
In fact we had sent so many – which we had not gone public on – that the minister sent me a letter asking me to stop sending them because there were too many for him to handle.
Such ministerial incompetence and obfuscation is but one of the reasons for the immigration systems failings.
So what happened to all these files of cases you might ask.
Well as it turns out – after constant pressure from my office some of these cases where resolved and guess what – we were right and these people were deported.
But more intriguing are those files that the minister wasn’t telling us about.
You see the short-lived immigration squad had coded all the unresolved immigration cases with either A, B, or C, ranking them according to their seriousness.
Among these files are dozens which my office had referred to the minister – some of which had been untouched for years.
And this minister wonders why we have to raise public attention to these cases to make progress.
It is because if we do not, he and his incompetent department sit on their hands and do nothing.
They have to be shamed into action.
Well I make this promise to you here today.
New Zealand First has a thorough and complete immigration policy.
We want to see a population policy in place – which includes 10 year and 25 year planning and which also ensures that we are actually meeting genuine labour market demands.
We have a skills shortage, so let’s ensure it is those we need that are coming in.
We will ensure that we take the threat to our security seriously.
Just this past week Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard has announced that Australia will be introducing tough new immigration laws.
They are extending the waiting period to receive citizenship from two to three years and ensuring that security considerations are taken into account when granting citizenship.
We here in New Zealand grant refugee status to the only person we know that actually does have a terrorist related conviction.
Which nation do you think would be targeted as a soft touch?
So we are committed to toughening our immigration laws – and bringing them into line with other developed nations.
And we will be targeting immigration corruption.
One of the files we passed on was that of Tam Yam Ah – a triad gangster that was assassinated in Auckland in July.
Had this been acted on when we first passed on the file – several months earlier – then this ugly incident would never have occurred.
We will be fighting for an inspectorate to be established to ensure that the corruption within the system is dealt with by those with the skills and the experience to actually make inroads – not incompetent bureaucrats who have consistently bungled the system.
And we will be ensuring that our refugee system is not able to be exploited by bogus claimants. As the Judge said in the Somali woman case – there are those who seek to exploit the goodwill of New Zealanders.
We want to bring integrity to our system and to make it a safe haven for those who come legitimately without being able to be exploited by those here illegally.
So following this election cleaning up our immigration system will be one of our priorities.
It is not a fight we will shirk – nor is it a fight we will back down from.
We want to see a robust system replace corruption.
We want to see New Zealand’s citizenship valued as it should be.
And we want to see our borders safe and secure.
That is part of what a party vote for New Zealand First ensures this election.
So for a strong voice to protect you from extremes – party vote New Zealand First.