Little under fire – immigration

A day after receiving an onslaught of criticism over his ‘stiff arm’ comments on legislating banks on interest rates – see Little’s banking ballsup – Andrew little is again under fire for comments about restricting immigration, in particular his reference to ethnic chefs.

And this is after recent suggestions that Government should instruct Pharmac on which drugs to fund.

A Little twiddling with drugs, bank loans and immigrant chefs is not a good governance model.

Little and Labour appear to be in some serious trouble.

Little has made himself an easy target for political opponents – who have taken the opportunity to blast and ridicule him – but when commentators like Barry Soper call Little’s comments ‘cringeworthy’ then there’s a major problem with where things are going.

Andrew Little’s cringeworthy immigration cap

He stood comfortably enough, legs apart with feet firmly planted on Parliament’s red carpet and proceeded to put his foot in his mouth, although he seemed to be unaware of it.

It’s hard to know what’s come over Andrew Little this week but something certainly has. A couple of days ago he was leaving us in no doubt about what he’d do about banks sitting on their stacks of cash, refusing to take the Official Cash Rate lead from the Reserve Bank Guv and lowering their mortgage rates.

He’d pass a law forcing them to cut the rate as the Guv had done, although he didn’t say whether that same law would force them to raise it when the central banker did the same with the OCR.

Little’s now banging on about immigration, saying the tap should be turned down to a trickle until economic conditions improve. If he was sitting behind John Key’s ninth floor Beehive desk he says he’d put an immediate cap on immigration.

Ethnic restaurants should be hiring Kiwi Indian and Chinese chefs rather than bringing them in from overseas. And the Labour leader, who’s recently positioned himself and his reluctant caucus on the opposing side of the Trans Pacific Partnership argument, used the free trade agreement with China to reinforce his point. The agreement Labour negotiated allows Chinese chefs to work in this country and those of us who enjoy good Yum Cha would say thank goodness for that.

Little says he singled out chefs because it’s just one example of semi skilled migrants taking jobs that could be filled by Kiwis which doesn’t bode well for his next meal out if that’s the view he has of chefs.

In case he hadn’t noticed, unemployment fell against all expectations in the final three months of last year.

And much of the ‘immigration’ spike is due to New Zealanders returning to their country.

It’s hard to know why little has taken to immigration. It could be his union instincts wanting to protect ‘local’ workers.

It could be trying to compete with NZ First for anti-immigration votes – or it could be trying to get onside with Winston Peters with coalition options in mind.

Little says he didn’t bring the specific topic up:

Ethnic chefs story truly weird. NZ is a great place because of diversity. Subject was raised by journalists, not me.

Labour’s policy on immigration unchanged. We’d moderate flows according to economy. We’re a nation built on immigration.

Whatever the reasons for Little’s apparently impromptu policy suggestions he is creating serious problems for himself and for Labour.

Little has tried to repair some of the damage:

Andrew Little responds

The way comments made by me have been reported are baffling. Of more concern, however, is that they may have offended anyone. I would never want for anyone in this country to feel they are being somehow targeted. That’s not what I stand for and it’s not what Labour stands for either.

I was asked last week by the Hutt News when I visited Lower Hutt about apparent concerns locals had with immigrant chefs. As I recall, I pointed out the China FTA specifically allows Chinese chefs to be recruited for Chinese restaurants and there was a case for other ethnic chefs to be recruited on the same basis.

I said at some point I would expect with larger ethnic communities that chefs would be able to be recruited within New Zealand. I said there was an issue with semi-skilled people being recruited under skills shortages categories but I doubt whether this related to chefs.

I was asked about Labour’s policy on immigration generally. I said our approach was that as the economy slows there is a case to “turn the tap down”. I also pointed out ours is a nation built on immigration and that people bringing skills here from all parts of the world is essential for us.

I was asked about the same issues today by other reporters. I again pointed out the right under the China FTA to have Chinese chefs recruited into New Zealand. I repeated my statement about the immigration tap being turned down as the economy slowed. I said how important immigration was to New Zealand.

So, to be clear, Labour’s policy on immigration hasn’t changed. We need to moderate our intake at times when we are struggling to find jobs and houses for newly arrived folks as well as locals.

I will always support a progressive immigration policy and welcome all people who want to make a future for themselves and their families to be part of our beautiful country.

The problem with moderating our intake is that controlled immigration can be managed consistently, but the Government can’t control New Zealanders going and returning.

This week Little has suggested that the Government have their hands on interest rate taps and immigration taps. Last week he wanted to dictate to Pharmac what drugs they should fund.

Labour also seem to want to  prop dairy farmers up or somehow fix international dairy auction prices.

Coercive and reactive twiddling with drugs, bank loans, immigrant chefs and milk powder is not a sensible way to govern.

I wonder if Little is using internal polling to try and chase populist support? If so he’s making a hash of it.

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17 Comments

  1. Jay3

     /  17th March 2016

    Little seems more comfortable with the ten-pound Pom type of immigrant. You know, the one’s that will bring their working class prejudices with them, join a union on arrival and vote Labour for the rest of their lives. It’s apparent he has a problem with those immigrants who look different, actually have aspirations and are prepared to work hard to achieve them. This constant thread of anti Asian sentiment coming from the Labour Party these days is repellent.

    Reply
  2. Oliver

     /  17th March 2016

    Little also has a stance on guns which I think is a good thing. I like the direction Little is taking. He taken a page out of the Trump play book. Good strategy, me likes very much.

    Reply
    • alloytoo

       /  17th March 2016

      Problem for Little is that Trump is a lot smarter than he is and knows who he’s talking to.

      Reply
      • David

         /  17th March 2016

        Little has a bigger problem in that NZ already has a .Trump’. Winston has been Trump for longer than Trump has.

        Reply
        • Oliver

           /  17th March 2016

          The thing that works against Winston is that fact that he is Maori. So it makes it hard from the majority white to identify with him. I’m sure if he were white he would have been the PM by now.

          Reply
          • David

             /  17th March 2016

            Winston only gets away with this anti-immigrant meme because he is Maori, not despite it.

            Reply
            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  17th March 2016

              Oliver: “I like the direction Little is taking” – for once we agree Oliver, I like the terrible downward direction Little is taking as well………….

    • Iceberg

       /  17th March 2016

      Hey Rambo, I think you are confused with Stuart Little.

      Reply
  3. Zedd

     /  17th March 2016

    Methinks Andrew is saying ‘Lets try & ensure kiwis get work.. before we open the floodgates to immigrants, who are happy to work for minimum wage (or less ?)’ I AGREE :/

    It seems that ‘Team Key’ are happy to see kiwis unemployed, if it means their RICH mates can hire immigrants for lower wages. 😦

    Reply
    • alloytoo

       /  17th March 2016

      I would agree too HOWEVER…

      we are effectively at full employment (especially now that the students have returned to UNI).

      Aside from the ever present churn, everyone who is employable, is employed.

      Reply
    • Oliver

       /  17th March 2016

      Well put Zedd, that’s how I see it aswell.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  17th March 2016

        Cheers Oliver

        @alloytoo.. are you sure, last time I heard, unemployment is at about 6.5% & rising daily !

        Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  17th March 2016

        Oliver is a toady.

        I don’t think that Andrew Little is saying that at all; he’s talking nonsense. I couldn’t work as a cook in any Chinese or other ethnic restaurant, the customers would be asking for their money back. I wouldn’t expect the owner of a local shop where everyone’s Chinese to take me on-why would anyone chuck out a family member or family member of a friend to employ an outsider ? I wouldn’t if it was my business. My stepfather took his son into the business with the idea that he would run it after him, he didn’t advertise for some stranger. A local fruit and vege shop employs both family members and locals. A friend who’s a panelbeater and painter employs family members first. Nobody sees this as strange.

        Surely nobody can legally offer lower wages to anyone-this is an unproveable generalisation.

        Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  17th March 2016

    It usually makes sense to have a Chinese/Indian/Vietnamese chef, surely. And I have no problem with the request that the person speak the language. A Kiwi Chinese friend whose knowledge of Cantonese was, to say the least, minimal lived in terror that someone in the restaurant where she worked for a while when she was at university would start a conversation with her and expose the fact that she had embroidered her experience with the language when she applied for the job :D.

    Reply
  5. Kitty Catkin

     /  17th March 2016

    If there are 60 National MPs, and each of them had 10 ‘mates’ in businesses….that’s only 600 people out of 4,000,000, so that accusation won’t stand up. It also assumes that immigrants are unskilled and the businesses use that sort of worker…it is unproveable and improbable.

    Reply
  6. Dougal

     /  17th March 2016

    Phil Geoff – Show me the money – gone!
    David Shearer – Fish – gone!
    David Cunliffe – Sorry for being a man – gone!
    Andrew Little – no more Chinese sounding names or indian chefs – (watch this space)

    Robertson is at it again…Beware the ides of March Andy 🙂

    Reply
    • Iceberg

       /  17th March 2016

      The last two were installed by the Unions against the wishes of their own caucus. How did they ever think that would be a path to the Prime Ministership?

      Reply

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