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Open Letter to Peter Brown Re: Immigration Policy

Matthew Robson

4 April 2008



Dear Peter,

I had meant to write to you on behalf of my party on 1 April on the issues of immigration and getting such issues into the media in election year as your Party is so experienced in this field. But I am afraid I have been busy.

I have a lot of clients in my legal practice and that work is full on. However, I guess that you have also been busy packing for the Speaker’s tour to Eastern Europe with the other retiring MPs.

However, a client of mine has brought in your widely reported comments, as Deputy Leader of New Zealand First, on the danger of the growth of the Asian population in New Zealand through an open door immigration policy.

My client is a New Zealand citizen who married a woman in an Asian country. He is having the devil of a job bringing her here to be with him as Immigration New Zealand keeping insisting that there is not an open door policy and that he and his wife must comply with a host of policy requirements and keep filling in the forms. I and my client would be interested in getting your assistance, as would a number of other clients, in accessing the open door policy. Perhaps we could pursue that when we meet.

I have noticed the changes you have referred to, in terms of the composition of the population, in my own street. Twenty years ago the names were Brown, Robson, Peters and so forth. Now we have Chang, Patel, Ahmad, O’Reilly, Williams ,Jones, McCaw, Umaga, Erackovic and a host of other non-English names. I don’t know where it will end. I have even discovered that the family name of my own wife is Dutch and I have found that upsetting as originally I was under the impression that it was of English origin like our names. She has the disturbing habit when meeting with her Dutch relatives of speaking in their language, eating the foods they like, cheering for Dutch soccer clubs (never Chelsea or Liverpool) and in general acting like a “mini-society”- the very thing that you have warned about with Asians.

That brings me to the fact that when you and I emigrated here from England and Australia, New Zealand was much whiter. Names like Brown and Robson were in the majority and we vastly outnumbered the Maori population. I never noticed any resentment to Australians, apart from some churlish types at the time of the underarm incident, but there were a lot of complaints from some about whinging ten pound Poms who could come in because of an actual open door policy. Perhaps you yourself came at that time. It would be useful to get some clarification from you as to how our circumstances differ from more recent immigrants. That clarification will be useful if we are to cooperate on immigration issues in the election campaign.

I would also like to raise some social and economic problems that seem to arise with your position. Socially, do you think that if emphasis is put on the threat that Asians pose to the rest of us that this might cause unnecessary division and hatred against anyone of Asian origin from some New Zealanders? I am sure that you have thought this out and can provide the Progressive Party with some useful pointers. Economically, do you think there are any downsides from barring new Asian immigrants and forcing out a considerable number of those that are already here? But once again I am sure that New Zealand First will have thought through these issues particularly as the Foreign Minister the Rt Hon Winston Peters has supported your public comments.

Well, you will be a busy man as you get ready for the well-earned Speaker’s Trip. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to any Asian countries, apart from any stopovers, as you will be in Eastern Europe and immigrants from those countries at least look like you and me even if they have funny names.

When you return I look forward to meeting to decide how the Progressive Party and New Zealand First can make common cause on the issue of Asian migrants in this election campaign. It will be very interesting for the New Zealand public to hear your leader and mine on the same public platform as Ministers in the same government discussing the approaches of our respective parties to this important issue for all of our people and our standing in the world.

Kind Regards

Matt Robson
Deputy Leader Progressive Party


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