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Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson show on Immigration

Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson show on Immigration Press Release - Should we close the gates now?

'New Zealand's skills shortage is a fallacy and almost 40% of immigrants are low skilled,' says Maori Party Co-Leader Tariana Turia.

Turia shot holes in Labour's immigration policy which is currently being overhauled. Earlier this year she was criticised for saying the number of immigrants settling in New Zealand was stopping the 'browning up of New Zealand'.

"What I said was the majority of immigrants coming in to this country were from specific countries which was preventing the browning up of New Zealand. I don't take any of that back. Over the last five years we've had over 500,000 migrants come in to the country," said Turia.

She said the huge numbers of migrants to this country was seriously affecting Maori political power.

"We're the only group of people who can't grow our population through immigration. The rest of the political parties can," said Turia.

Minister of Immigration David Cunliffe thought that was a joke.

"I'm laughing because for the proposition to be true all those migrants would have to go to the South Island because parliamentary seats are set to a formula based on the population in the South Island. So I don't think it can be possible that immigrants are reducing Maori parliamentary power," said Cunliffe.

Cunliffe said then number of new active investor migrants was capped at 1000 people and only 50,000 permanent migrants were allowed in a year. He refuted the idea that migrants with disposable income could buy their way through our gates.

"You need at least 20million and you have to invest in a factory that employs kiwis and makes jobs and products," he said.

National's Immigration Spokesman Lockwood Smith said the real problem was that the country was losing too many Kiwis to Australia.

"We've got to make sure immigrants coming in have to be adding value. We've got to stop the loss of Kiwis. It's serious. We're losing 100 kiwis a day," said Smith.

The Deputy Leader of NZ First Peter Brown said his party and party leader Winston Peters had raised concerns about immigration for years.

"We want people in this country to bring skills. They’ve got to be of good character, good health and be prepared to be a good Kiwi. We want controlled immigration.
We should be selective. This is a fantastic country and we want people to join in, not come in and set up their own little enclaves," said Brown.

Tariana Turia said immigrants were not only compromising Maori political power they were making it harder for Maori to buy homes homes.

"If you look at what's happened in more recent years, at the cost of housing, how rapidly that has risen. We keep being told these people contribute hugely to the economy, they bring new skills ... these people are coming in to the country they've pushed all the house rates up and our people are never going to be able to get a house … 40% of the people who are coming in are unskilled. So what they're doing is they are displacing others," said Turia.

But Cunliffe disagreed.

"Overall migration is doing a really good job. 95% of employers are happy with migrant workers. Are you saying Tariana that we shouldn’t have any international humanitarian commitments, our refugee programme? Are we saying that whanau and families don't matter?" he asked.

Turia said Maori must have input in to the drafting of new immigration policy. Former Immigration Minister Liane Dalziel had initiated consultation with Maori on immigration policy, but Turia said consultation for the sake of consultation was a waste of time, unless there was meaningful change.

"It's one thing to consult it's another thing to do something. What we saw really was that everything got put in the too hard basket. We need to remind ourselves that the TOW was the first immigration document. It allowed people to come in at a time when we were the majority. We were happy for that to happen because we knew it was in the interests of this country and its future. But what's happened is that our people have been cut out of this equation."

"You tell me when you sit down with our people and give them a say about immigration - you don't," Turia challenged.

But Cunliffe is confident the overhaul of the country's immigration law and policy will see most concerns addressed.

"We're very very choosy about who comes in and we're going to get more choosy. We do consult and we're going to do more consultation. New Zealand's migration policy has got to work in the interests of all New Zealanders. Is it perfect? No. But is it adding value over all? Yes and it will continue to do so".

To view Saturday's episode on 'Immigration' go to: www.frontofthebox.co.nz. Feel free to feedback your views on the show, Willie and the team would like to hear from you.

Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson, TV1, every Saturday at 0930am. Join us to celebrate our 100th Episode on Saturday 7 July 2007.


ENDS

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