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PQ 8. Immigration, Minister—Performance

8. Immigration, Minister—Performance

[Sitting date: 29 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:7. Text is subject to correction.]


8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Is he satisfied that the current Minister of Immigration is working for all New Zealanders?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes .

Rt Hon Winston Peters : How is the Minister working for all New Zealanders when record net migration numbers are fuelling the Auckland housing crisis and the Reserve Bank’s raising of interest rates to deal—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the member complete his question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes. How is the Minister working for all New Zealanders when record net migration numbers are fuelling the Auckland housing crisis and the Reserve Bank’s raising of interest rates to deal with the Auckland housing bubble is adversely affecting the entire country?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, there is a number of factors that drive net migration in New Zealand, but the most pronounced of those, of course, is that New Zealanders are not leaving for Australia in droves as they were under the previous Labour Government. Secondly, there are certain aspects of migration policy that are, for want of a better description, out of the control of the Government—that is, Australians, for instance, are free to come to New Zealand. I do not think the member is really saying that he is going to stop Australians coming over, and 25,000 of those come every year. We then have people who come under the Pacific category. Is the member actually saying he does not want people to come under the Treaty of Friendship with Samoa? I could go on. The truth of it is that this is a Government that is working so well for New Zealand that New Zealanders want to stay here and be part of it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : How is the current immigration Minister working for all New Zealanders when there is record net migration at a time when there are almost 150,000 unemployed New Zealanders and half the workforce got no pay increase last year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member should really avoid using data that he probably does not understand. That is the labour cost index. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order. I want to hear it in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Just because the Prime Minister’s embarrassed, that is not reason to start with a character assassination or attack on a member of Parliament doing his humble duty.

Mr SPEAKER : On this occasion the member makes a reasonable point. Would the Prime Minister just address the question.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I was simply trying to be helpful to the member. The labour cost index does not actually measure what he said. If he would like me to send around one of the Treasury officials to take him through it, I am more than happy to do that. The second point is that it is not record-high migration. I can actually point to a time not that long ago when there were high levels of net migration under the previous Labour Government.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : What does he say to New Zealanders concerned at the high ratios of non-skilled, non-working immigrants last year, when 49 percent of immigrants were granted permanent residence under family, parent, and humanitarian categories?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As the member knows, there is a parent category, and that category allowed 4,000 parents to come in under family reunification. The member also knows that the Government actually changed that back in 2012. The member also knows that for a very, very long period of time, New Zealand has agreed to take 750 refugees, and that happened the entire time that the member was Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : What does he say to New Zealanders concerned that with 44 percent of recent migrants from China being aged 50 and over, there will be a serious impact on health care, aged care, and New Zealand superannuation?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I would have to check that fact, and I am not entirely sure—

Hon Member : You should know that.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I have learnt to be cautious, you know. I am not entirely sure that that fact is right. But what I can say is that if you look at migration overall in terms of people who come to New Zealand, the vast, overwhelming bulk of them actually add to New Zealand. They come in all sorts of areas, from students who come and study in New Zealand, many of whom may well stay and add to our economy. They come in the highly skilled labour markets where they are needed, they come with capital that they bring to New Zealand, and they come with the right attitude towards New Zealand. If you look at the entire time that I have been Prime Minister, the average net increase in the population per year has been under 10,000 people. For a country the size, roughly, of Great Britain, to increase our population by 10,000 people or fewer a year is hardly some sort of crisis that we cannot cope with.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did the immigration Minister, who was working for all New Zealanders, expand work permits to over 79,000 foreign students, which means it is not export education at all, and when Australia abolished the—

Hon Steven Joyce : What a load of rubbish!

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I know you are a load of rubbish, but I would like to ask my question.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just ask—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Can I stick to my question, not you?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will just complete his question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, you heard what he said.

Mr SPEAKER : Just complete the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a certain member over there who has barracked every time a question was asked, from the very beginning. Frankly, he is tiresome and boring—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Now the member—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : —and you should stop him.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I want to allow this member the opportunity to ask his supplementary question and I do not want any interjections coming from my right-hand side.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did the immigration Minister, who was supposedly working for all New Zealanders, expand work permits to around 79,000 foreign students, which means it is not export education at all that is happening there for them, when Australia abolished these work permits after it realised that foreign students were earning money in Australia to repay loans back in their own countries for their international school fees in Australia?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, I am not sure that the member is right that all of them got work permits. Secondly, if you look at export education, it is an industry that earns New Zealand about $2.6 billion a year. It has added 28,000 jobs to New Zealand. Actually, the member is right about one thing, and that is that quite a lot of these students who come to New Zealand from countries all around the world do get off their backsides and work in a cafeteria, they do go and work in bars around New Zealand, they do clean motels around New Zealand to pay for their education, and what happens with many of them is they actually stay in New Zealand. They become long-term citizens of this country and they add to the fabric—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I have not finished my answer.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters : The thrust of this question simply is that if a student is working in New Zealand—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is not a point of order. If the member wants another supplementary, I can—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I haven’t finished it yet.

Mr SPEAKER : The member will resume his seat. Would the Prime Minister please complete his answer?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The point I am making is that a great many of these international students who come to New Zealand do actually work part-time. That gives them some money to pay for the time that they are in New Zealand, but it also demonstrates that they are committed to our country and that they have got a good work ethic, and I think they add enormously to New Zealand. If New Zealand First does not want these people coming to New Zealand—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The answer is now long enough.

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