Sri Lankan visa scam revealed

Something to add to the immigration debate.

RNZ: Sri Lankan visa scam revealed, but no review of past applications

Immigration officials are investigating a major scam involving student visa applications from Sri Lanka.

The New Zealand immigration office in Mumbai that handles Sri Lankan applications received a tip off at the start of the year.

Inquiries led officials to conclude a Sri Lankan based company was fraudulently creating documentation to help students meet the criteria of having money in the bank.

Official briefings to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway show investigations are under way into the potential involvement of education agents in Sri Lanka, the finance company, whose name is redacted in the papers, and students as a result of these revelations.

There were 88 pending applications when the fraud was discovered and after further checks were done 83 were declined. The tip-off was in January.

The National Party wants to know why hundreds of past visas that have been granted to Sri Lankan students won’t be reviewed.

Former Immigration Minister and National Party spokesperson Michael Woodhouse asked Mr Lees-Galloway whether he would look at past years to make sure the visas approved were legitimate.

Mr Lees-Galloway said that after scrutinising, then rejecting, most of the 88 applications the focus would now be on any future signs of fraud.

“To identify applications with similar characteristics already decided by INZ [Immigration New Zealand] would require substantial collation which I do not believe is in the public interest.”

According to Mr Woodhouse up to half of Sri Lankan applicants could have used the company “fraudulently”, and said that should be enough for officials to find how widespread any fraud was.

More on US immigrant detentions

The furore over immigrant detentions in the US continues, but it isn’t just over the caging of kids. Protests continue, Time magazine has been slammed for a cover image depicting a small child versus Donald Trump, and claims and counter claims of what was already being done and what has changed under Trump are all over the place.

CNN: Time cover backlash: Magazine stands by illustration of crying girl next to Trump

The cover features an image of a crying toddler taken by Getty photographer John Moore superimposed next to President Trump, who is towering over the child. The text next to the illustration reads, “Welcome to America.”

But as details about the little girl emerged this week, critics claim the cover is misleading because she is not one of the thousands of children who have been separated from their parents at the border.

I’m not sure why a magazine cover image is such an issue but that’s what it has become.

Soon reports began to emerge, citing the girl’s father, who is still in Honduras, and Customs and Border Protection, who said she was not separated from her mother.

“The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason: Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents. Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment,” Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement to CNN .

Moore, the photographer, told CNN he never claimed that the little girl was taken away from her mother. His original caption said that they were “detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation.”

Despite those details, critics said use of the photo plays into the “fake news” hysteria promoted by the President and his supporters, who claim the media is purposely misleading the public in an effort to hurt the administration.

“It appears that the iconic image of the separations policy didn’t involve a separation—all too typical of how a hysterical, advocacy-driven media covers immigration,” Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative magazine National Review, wrote on Twitter.

OI don’t think this is a completely factual photo either:

Image result for national review cover

I guess trump could be both good and bad in different ways.

An unusual report from Fox: Woman detained for 2 weeks after accidentally jogging into US

A French citizen visiting Canada said she was detained for two weeks after she accidentally jogged across the U.S.-Canada border in May.

Cedella Roman, 19, said she did not realize she crossed the border during her jog along a beach in White Rock, British Columbia on May 21. The young woman said she stopped during her jog to take a picture of the beach before deciding to turn around to run back when she was apprehended by two U.S. Border Patrol officers who told her she illegally crossed the border into Blaine, Washington.

And the separation of children from parents continues to get coverage.

What remains is major problems over illegal immigration into the US, especially via Mexico, and confusion and debate over how this should be dealt with humanely.

Trump defiance on immigration switches to backdown on splitting families

Donald Trump has reacted to the furore over splitting immigrant families and ‘caging’ children – he is still blaming the Democrats, but at the same time saying he will take immediate action to stop illegal immigrant families from being split up.

Fox News: Trump plans executive action to prevent family separations at border

President Trump is planning to sign an executive order to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally — a step that could avoid the family separations that have triggered a national outcry and political crisis for Republicans.

He also said he’s canceling the upcoming congressional picnic, adding: “It didn’t feel exactly right to me.”

Reuters: Trump to order end of immediate immigrant family separations at U.S. border

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order on immigration on Wednesday to end the immediate separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has sparked outrage in the United States and abroad.

An administration official said Trump would sign an order that would require immigrant families to be detained together if they are caught crossing the border illegally.

Trump previously had insisted his hands were tied on the separation policy.

And he blamed the Democrats despite there being Republican majorities in the Senate and in Congress.

The order also would move parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings but would not end a “zero tolerance” policy that urges criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally, the official said.

“I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat pre-emptive but ultimately will be matched by legislation I’m sure,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We want security for our country,” Trump said. “We will have that as the same time we have compassion … I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that.”

He has suddenly found some compassion? That’s not how he looked yesterday.

The House of Representatives planned to vote on Thursday on two bills designed to halt the practice of separating families and to address other immigration issues.

But Republicans said they were uncertain if either measure would have enough support to be approved. Trump told House Republicans on Tuesday night he would support either of the immigration bills under consideration but did not give a preference.

If the Republicans don’t have enough support that must be because some republicans don’t support the bills.

This is a remarkable change from yesterday when he was blaming the Democrats for blocking law changes to stop the family splitting.

I don’t know why a law change is required to stop splitting families when the practice started under current law – I presume the current law doesn’t compel border officials to imprison parents and cage kids, because that hasn’t always happened like what has been revealed this week.

See also Trump’s catch-and-detain policy snares many who have long called U.S. home

Here is a marker of current approval ratings for Trump. He has recently had a bit of improvement in approval ratings, but looks likely to take a hit after the furore over border control and especially separation parents from children and caging of children bites.

If there is any backlash, Trump has defied polls predictions many times over.

FiveThirtyEight Truimp Approval:

Current RCP Trump Approval average:

In that the Economist/YouGov Poll has trump at 44% approval, 50% disapproval. Details:

Economist/YouGov – Trump Approval on immigration

Nation – immigration and banking

On Newshub Nation this morning:

Immigration – Lisa Owen asks Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway about Labour’s plan to reduce immigration by 20-30,000 and what the effect will be on our economy.

Banking – Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr talks about lifting the lid on New Zealand banking practices and which areas concern him most.

Q&A – workplace relations and employment law

Iain Lees-Galloway looks one of the Labour MPs who has managed the transition from Opposition to ministerial responsibilities in government very well. He is interviewed on Q&A this morning.

Lees-Galloway is ranked 13th in Cabinet.

A recent media release:

The Government’s draft strategy for improving the health and safety of New Zealand workers over the next 10 years has been released, with submissions now being called for, says Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Iain Lees-Galloway.

His responsibilities:

  • Workplace Relations and Safety
  • ACC
  • Immigration
  • Deputy Leader of the House

He has managed to keep a low profile on Immigration given Labour’s promises to significantly reduce immigration, but net migration numbers have barely moved. There is no indication this will be covered in the interview. However there’s a close relationship between employment and immigration, and there have been a number of recent reports of labour shortages in various parts of the country.

Unions currently represent about 17% of the workforce. The Government has no intention of making joining a union compulsory – Lees-Galloway says that the need for freedom of association is a key reason for this.

It’s a good interview, Lees-Galloway sounds like he knows his stuff, tries to explain rather than avoid answering, and comes across well.

He is asked about immigration numbers, and he diverts here to say he isn’t focussed on numbers but in making sure they get labour into ‘the right places’.

Pushed on getting immigration numbers down he waffles around it and eventually falls back on “getting immigration better”.

Welfare overhaul announcement ‘imminent’

Jacinda Ardern has said that an announcement on aims to overhaul welfare delivery is ‘imminent’, but it will rely on yet another working group so any decisions are likely to be quite a way down the track.

Some (Greens especially) have proposed a much more generous ‘no questions asked’ welfare payment system.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement stated:

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

That is toned down from what Metiria Turei promoted before crashing during last year’s election campaign, in a policy labelled ‘Mending the Safety Net’:

We will:

  • Increase all core benefits by 20 percent
  • Increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut
  • Increase the value of Working For Families for all families
  • Create a Working For Families Children’s Credit of $72 a week
  • Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits
  • Reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 percent to 9 percent on income under $14,000
  • Introduce a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000 per year.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $17.75 in the first year and keep raising it until it’s 66 percent of the average wage.

Our welfare system should provide effective support for people who need it, while they need it. The social safety net should stop families from falling into poverty and guarantee a basic, liveable income. That’s what it means to live in a decent, compassionate society.

Punishing people through benefit sanctions, cuts, and investigations has not worked. Rather than giving people ‘incentives’, it traps them in a cycle of poverty and puts children’s wellbeing at risk. Children suffer when the welfare system punishes their parents, and in the long term, so does society. It is never ok for the government to use poverty or the threat of poverty as a weapon.

The Green Party’s plan will ensure the people on the highest incomes pay their fair share and those that need help are treated with respect and dignity.

That last paragraph looks like code for a major redistribution – one could wonder if it aims at ‘fair share’ being equal share, no matter what work one does or doesn’t do.

Stuff: Welfare overhaul working group details leak out online

Details of the “imminent” Government overhaul of the welfare system have emerged in online job listings.

The job listings show the Government is setting up a welfare overhaul “expert advisory group” supported by a secretariat of officials from different departments.

The listings for a project manager and strategic communications advisor were posted in March of this year on the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) website.

In the job description MSD write “the Government has committed, through the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement, to overhaul the Welfare System. This work will be led by an independent group of Experts, supported by a Secretariat of officials from MSD, the Treasury and Inland Revenue.”

The listings have emerged as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said an announcement on the welfare overhaul is “imminent”.

Ardern has made clear that some sanctions would remain after the overhaul.

She said a culture change was needed at Work and Income, but acknowledged that “by and large” case managers did a good job.

“Culture change is difficult. We are coming in after nine years of there being an expectation that there be a singular focus on reducing benefit numbers and of course we want people in work, we want people who are seeking work to be able to find work, but I think it has tipped over into a space where it actually denying people who need help the help they need,” Ardern said.

This reform could be a real test of Labour versus Green aims.

Greens want a radical change to generous state assistance as a right and a choice. This may meet some resistance from people who pay tax, but is likely to be supported by those who can’t work, and also by those who don’t want to work.

If I was offered the option of a comfortable income from the Government I would be very tempted to retire early.

We already have sustained high immigration because we don’t have enough New Zealand workers for a number of industries. If we have more of a choice to not work would higher immigration to compensate be acceptable?

Welfare reform is a big and contentious issue.

There is no doubt that the current system has serious flaws and is punitive, but it will be difficult – and potentially very expensive – to make major changes.

For the Greens to get what they want it will involve much more than welfare reform – their wish list would require…

  • welfare reform
  • tax and revenue reform
  • employment reform
  • serious reconsideration of immigration

…and probably more

If it ended up how some indicate they want it too it would involve a radical shift towards virtual socialism.

Pope on World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The Pope has spoken about immigration in a special mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Reuters:  Fear and doubt should not determine response to immigrants, Pope says

Mutual fears between immigrants and their new communities are understandable, but must not prevent new arrivals from being welcomed and integrated, Pope Francis said on Sunday in a special Mass to mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

“Local communities are sometimes afraid that the newly arrived will disturb the established order, will ”steal“ something they have long laboured to build up,” he said, while “the newly arrived … are afraid of confrontation, judgement, discrimination, failure.”

“Having doubts and fears is not a sin. The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection.”

…he said newcomers must “know and respect the laws, the culture and the traditions of the countries that take them in”.

Migration and immigration have been an essential part of human history. As the most isolated country in the world New Zealand has been totally reliant on immigration.

Some care has to be taken over the numbers and types of immigrants allowed to move here, but our isolation makes this relatively easy to control.

Hostility and rejection are impediments to a healthy society.

Communities, meanwhile, have “to open themselves without prejudices to (newcomers’) rich diversity, to understand the hopes and potential of the newly arrived as well as their fears and vulnerabilities”.

Communities here are generally open and welcoming to newcomers here, with only isolated attacks and a bit of moaning on the sidelines.

Changing faces and population growth

I think that Duncan Garner has had a go at this before, but here he goes again: Dear NZ, how do we want to look in 20 years?

 I went to Kmart on Wednesday to buy some new underpants and socks.

Now, normally this outing to the mall wouldn’t be a big deal but this one fast became a nightmarish glimpse into our future if we stuff it up.

As I started walking towards the self-pay counter I saw a massive human snake crawling its way around the self-service island near the middle of the store. And it snaked and snaked and snaked. The snake was massive.

I wondered what the attraction was? It wasn’t immediately obvious. Then it was. The self-service counter couldn’t cope.

It couldn’t cope with the pressures of the people. The dozens of stressed faces making up the human snake were frustrated too.

I looked around, it could have been anywhere in South East Asia.

I wasn’t shocked – we have reported this for three years – we have targeted immigrants, opened the gates and let in record numbers. This year’s net gain of migrants was 72,000.

Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Syrians, and many others. I saw the changing face of New Zealand at the crossroads, otherwise known as Kmart’s self-service counter. Every four minutes and 51 seconds New Zealand’s population grows by another person. We are growing faster now than compared to any other time in our history. And faster than most countries in the world.

New Zealand’s population grew by 100,400 to the June 2017 year.

This is not an opinion column designed to be deliberately inflammatory on race grounds, flimsy grounds or any other grounds.

But do we have any idea what we’re doing here? No.

Predictions show we will have 6.3 million people by 2038. There’ll be more Asians than Maori. Is anyone leading this debate on how big we should be? No.

Does it matter? You bet it does.

Garner raises two main issues here.

Many will probably focus on “Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Syrians, and many others. I saw the changing face of New Zealand at the crossroads…”

It makes a big difference where this particular K-Mart was. I went to The Warehouse and New World last night. Both were a completely different picture. Both were remarkably uncrowded – I went straight up to a counter and got served at both. And it was a typically Dunedin mix of faces, nothing like Garner’s K-Mart description.

I think the more important issue is population growth. How big should the new Zealand population be allowed to grow?

Over the last few years population growth has been running at about 70,000 per annum. That doesn’t sound much, but if that was sustained over fifteen years it would be over a million more residents.

Population growth isn’t even over the country. Auckland is obviously facing the biggest growth problems. I happily choose not to go to Auckland if I can help it, the traffic is often diabolical, and when I have gone to Auckland in the past for non-work reasons I usually choose to get out to less populated places.

I actually work a lot in Auckland (as well as in Australia, South Africa, the UK and the US) but fortunately, with today’s technology, most of that work is done from an office in Dunedin. World wide networks now operate far faster than inter-office networks of a couple of decades ago.

Twenty years ago, even fifteen years ago, if I wanted data from a client I would tell them how to zip it onto a diskette – or often many diskettes – and put it in the post.  Now I connect directly and work or copy data.

So in some ways population concentrations are not needed. Working from a distance has never been easier in some lines of work.

But there has been a tendency in the last few centuries, and especially over the last half century, for people to flock to and inflate the populations of major cities, turning them into mega cities, while provincial cities like Dunedin chug away slowly.

Perhaps Garner and others in media could work remotely. But they choose to join the overcrowding in Auckland. That is their choice, so I am not entirely sympathetic to their complaints about population.

But back to immigration and overall population growth.

People are lining up to come here because we are the last paradise on Earth.

Our small population is our winning card. Let’s not lose that.

Everything we do we must ask ourselves this question: Will this make our country better for those living in it now?

If the answer is no then we must pause, stop and think again. Your great-grandchildren will be so grateful. And it’s our legacy.

But there’s little sign that the new Government is pausing, stopping and thinking again. There were varying signals about immigration in the election campaign, but there has been little sign of major change or rethink.

On the beehive website this is the only Press release from the Immigration portfolio:

Building occupations added to skill shortage list

It will be easier for the building industry to find the workers it needs to help address New Zealand’s housing shortfall, with seven building-related occupations being added to the Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL), Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced today.

“Employing skilled migrants will meet the immediate demand for people with the skills required to rapidly increase the number of houses in New Zealand.”

The focus is on bringing in more builders to build more houses to cater for the growing population.

When Garner wants to buy more undies and socks in the future he will probably find little has changed.

Maiden speech – Golriz Ghahraman

A big maiden speech from Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, with strong references to immigration and patriotism and refugees.

She talks of hardships involving war that most of us who have always lived in New Zealand have very fortunately not had to experience or suffer.

My parents.

Both strong, Iranian feminists. You lost everything. You lost your friends, your family, your professions and your language, because you weren’t willing to raise a little girl in oppression.

Thank you.

Closing comments:

Mr Speaker.

I stand here as a child of revolutionaries, as a child asylum seeker, as a international human rights lawyer, as an activist, and as a Green, and my standing here proves New Zealand is a place where a nine-year-old asylum seeker, a refugee, a girl from the Middle East can grow up to one day enter Parliament.

It proves the strength and the goodness of New Zealand’s values.

We all should be grateful and proud that Golriz can become an MP in New Zealand, and speak openly and passionately about her past and about her passion to bring about positive change.

Full draft transcript:


Mr Speaker, I congratulate you, and I look forward to your guidance in this House. I acknowledge also that we stand on land that was neve ceded, so I have acknowledged tangata whenua.

I begin by acknowledging what a breathtaking honour it is to sit among this Green caucus. It’s a dream. I also acknowledge those who’ve sat among you before now, in particular Catherine Delahunty and Keith Locke—you spoke to injustice wherever it happened, and, to someone like me, that meant a lot. Mojo Mathers, you taught me and us all that we are far more than our labels. And Metiria Turei, for baring your scars to highlight the pain of others, I thank you.

But today I also want to acknowledge those who tell me every day that I don’t belong here, that I should go home where I came from, that I should have been left to die, or that I have no right to criticise any politician in the country or take part in public life, because this isn’t my home. Some of them call for rifles to be loaded—it gets frightening.

I’m numb to it because that actually is the reality for those of us in this country from minority backgrounds if we do stand up and become visible. I want it noted that it’s also the consequence every time someone in this House scapegoats migrants, every time a TV presenter is allowed to ask the Prime Minister when our Governor General is going to look like a Kiwi and sound like a Kiwi and that Prime Minister just laughs, every time we call refugees “the leftovers from terrorist nations” for our political gain. We feel it on the streets; we can’t shed our skin.

Patriotism that seeks to quash dissent and divide us is archaic. It’s dangerous for our democracy. We can’t tolerate that. It’s antithetical to our culture. I love this country, but a love of this country—patriotism—means expecting the very best for her. It means fighting for the country we know is possible. So I criticise leaders who fall short, I protest, and I fight for equality and justice, because that is what loves looks like in public—that’s Dr Cornel West; that’s not me. So today I stand here proud and determined because today is about democracy and equality—values that New Zealand embodies, stands up for so boldly.

I am a child of revolutionaries. My parents faced tanks for democracy, at gunpoint fought for human rights. They faced torture to take back their country’s resource from imperialists, from dictators, and from corrupt corporate interests and put it back in the hands of the people. The Iranian revolution was one of the biggest popular revolutions in modern history. Everyone was out on the street—students, communists, socialists, and Islamists—fighting against inequality.

But their revolution was hijacked, and ultimately my life was shaped by one of the most repressive regimes in modern history. Everyone knew someone that disappeared into a torture chamber for speaking out; everyone knew a woman flogged for disregarding Islamic dress—and that wasn’t our culture, even for those of us who were Muslim. Everyone feared their phones being tapped; that was my childhood.

But it was also just the backdrop to a bloody eight year war we fought against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. I remember the bombs and the sirens, running to a basement and just waiting, but mostly I remember kids my age who stopped talking from the shell shock. I still don’t know what happened to them. Then scarcity set in, because America was on Saddam’s side and we were sanctioned. We had to use coupons to buy food. Years later, we realised that the West had backed both sides of that war—sold weapons to both sides.

That is what refugees are made of.

I feel a kinship with first nations people, with tangata whenua, because we too have been alienated from our land and our resources by imperialism—by wars that we did not profit from. We share the same degradation and prejudice; I want us to work closer together. Migrants, refugees, Pasifika people, tangata whenua—we have far more that unites us than that which divides us. I want Te Tiriti o Waitangi to be a living constitutional document in this country, leading policy, even on immigration.

My mum was a child psychologist, but she never worked because she didn’t believe in taking religious exams, especially in a mental health field. My dad was an agricultural engineer who worked on research trying to extract energy from plant sources—Green to the core. So let’s remember that our values exist in all cultures. The Middle East, just like the West, has fierce feminism, environmentalism, Government selling us off to multinationals, and—yes—religious fundamentalism. I want us to amplify the voices in all cultures who speak of democracy and equality above those who would silence them.

When that repression got too scary, my family and I fled. We landed in Auckland Airport and the fear was palpable. I can still feel it now. I was nine years old. We didn’t know what would happen if we were sent back, but we weren’t; we were welcomed here. That warm welcome is my first memory of my homeland. New Zealand recognised our rights and our humanity; that’s what that was, though I didn’t know it then. My second memory is that this country was so green. Those two vivid first impressions are going to lead my work in this House.

I became a lawyer—I never intended to do that, but I wanted to make human rights enforceable. The criminal justice system leads on human rights in our system. The most frightening thing that I’ve seen in about 15 years of being a lawyer all over the world is the sight of a 13-year-old child sitting behind a very large table awaiting his trial for murder at the Auckland High Court. I was part of his defence team. He’d thrown a rock over an overbridge, tragically taking another young life. He was tried as an adult because our system requires it. He suffered from mental illness, as do most people that come through our justice system. He was brown. He was from South Auckland. His family was so poor that they shifted houses every so often just so that they could have electricity for a while. He didn’t have a lot of schooling, because of that, and his Child Youth and Family file was the stuff of nightmares. Our most vulnerable.

The front lines of our justice system is where I learnt about unchecked prejudice. That’s what turned me into a human rights lawyer, and I focused on children’s rights. But it was living in Africa, working on genocide trials for the UN, where I learnt how prejudice turns to atrocity. It starts with dehumanising language in the media. It starts by politicians scapegoating groups, as groups, for social ills—I think that every time I see it happen here. I saw it in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and when I prosecuted the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia—holding politicians and armies to account for abusing their power, and giving voice to women and minorities, because we are always most viciously attacked by abusers. These experiences have instilled in me a commitment to human rights that I first got as someone who has seen the world without them.

Human rights are universal. We don’t have fewer rights because of our religion, because of where we were born, or because of who we love. We don’t have fewer rights because we had our children out of wedlock, or because we’ve been charged with a crime. We don’t have human rights because we are good, but because we are human—there is no such thing as the deserving poor or the good refugee.

Human rights are indivisible. We have a bundle of rights. We can’t realise one without the others—you can’t say we have a democracy or free speech unless we also have the right to education, and we don’t have the right to education unless the kids we are teaching have food and homes. For too long, for about 10 years now in New Zealand, our very democracy has been undermined because too many of our rights—our economic, our social, and our cultural rights—have been breached. I want to entrench those.

Finally—and of most interest to this House—human rights are enforceable against Governments. These are our obligations. This our mandate to govern. We can’t privatise them away. They are not charity—people don’t have to beg.

I want New Zealand to get back to a culture of expecting this from us, and none of that is inseparable from the environment. Protection of people’s rights and nature’s rights are intrinsically linked. Just ask the people of the Pacific—our neighbours—whose homelands are being drowned out because of waste pollution consumption that they have not participated in or benefited from.

One of the greatest threats to both human and nature’s rights right now is subjugation of our democracy to corporate interests. A rampant market on a finite planet cannot exist. New Zealand must lead by example on this, as we have done before. We’ve stood up against status quo interests on the world stage, and I want us to be that righteous little nation again.

I never intended to run as the first ever refugee MP, but I quickly realised that my face and my story meant so much to so many, so my fear of tokenism dissipated. I had such an outpouring of support from all over New Zealand and the world—even Trump’s America—and I remembered getting notes and emails from my female interns, mostly of minority background, back in the UN, telling me what it meant to them to have someone like them forging that path. Some of them are carrying that mantle right now. I realised then that it was important for that process to have a former victim of governance by repression and mass murder stand up in those courtrooms, which are normally dominated by Western men.

So this is a victory for a nine-year-old asylum seeker. But it’s also a victory for everyone who has ever felt out of place, who has been excluded, or who has been told that she has limits to her dreams.

For getting me here, I thank the voters. You’ve humbled me for ever. You voted for diversity and fairness and nature this election when you voted Green.

I thank our Green activists and our staff, especially our Auckland staff. You worked harder and harder as things got harder this election. You will inspire me for ever. To my campaign team—especially Ron and Daniel, who are up there—and my second, political family, the Chalmers clan, I’m so happy you are here. Your support is life affirming to me.

My parents, both strong Iranian feminists—you lost everything. You lost your friends, your family, your professions, and your language because you weren’t willing to raise a little girl in oppression—thank you.

And to maybe the most political person I know, although a very large, loud white boy—my partner. Thank you for stopping me mid-rant—it seems like a lifetime ago now—when I was lamenting the loss of activism in politics and some of my favourite MPs. I was saying, “Who’s going to be the candidate that will stand up to the GCSB? Who’s going to be the candidate who will be the new Keith Locke?”, and you said, “You will be that candidate.”—and I was. We’re both political, we are both adventurers, but you are also patient. I thank you for that, and for love, but mostly courage, on that day and every day.

I stand here as a child of revolutionaries, as a child asylum seeker, as a international human rights lawyer, as an activist, and as a Green, and my standing here proves New Zealand is a place where a nine-year-old asylum seeker, a refugee, a girl from the Middle East can grow up to one day enter Parliament. It proves the strength and the goodness of New Zealand’s values.

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

Right leaning NZ First voters may be disappointed

Going by comments here, at Kiwiblog and at Whale Oil during the campaign there may be a few right leaners who voted for NZ First who may be more than a little disappointed with their choice.

Most notably Cameron Slater promoted voting for NZ First heavily, thinking they would push National right on selected issues (despite most NZ First policies being far more to the left).

Winston Peters is very experienced at pandering to potential voters on populist issues, knowing that as a smaller party he will never be able to deliver. This looks especially true by the look of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

Not with National

It was common to see people saying they would vote NZ First to reduce National’s clout in a right leaning government.That NZ First decided not to do a deal with National is neither surprising nor good news for right leaning  supporters.

Maori seats referendum

One of Winston’s bottom lines/promises was to have a referendum on the Maori seats to ‘eliminate them’.  This policy was eliminated by Labour, who couldn’t countenance losing their grip on all seven Maori seats..

Immigration

Winston has campaigned for years on drastically lowering immigration numbers, often erroneously and deceitfully describing what we had as ‘mass immigration’. Jacinda Ardern has stated that Labour immigration policy remains intact, that will mean some reduction in numbers but nowhere as drastically as Winston promised.

The UN resolution on Israel

This was an issue pushed hard at Whale Oil but no one else cared about it, but has made it into the coalition agreement:

Record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334

This is just a criticism of the process used, of not referring the decision to sponsor the resolution to Cabinet. It does nothing to criticise or oppose the resolution.

Smacking referendum

Family First press release on 28 september: Anti-Smacking Law On Coalition Table

In a speech in March in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.” He then further clarified his position in an interview on Newstalk ZB saying that this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are “far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians. This position was backed up by senior MP Tracey Martin.

It may or may not have ever got onto the negotiating table, but neither Labour nor Greens would have supported it.

Climate change

All of NZ First, Labour and greens supported much stronger action on climate change, and it was included in both the Labour-Green deal and also the Labour-NZ First agreement:

Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on therecommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

If the Climate Commission determines that agriculture is to be included in the ETS, then upon entry, the free allocation to agriculture will be 95% but with all revenues from this source recycled back into agriculture in order to encourage agricultural innovation,mitigation and additional planting of forestry.

It even allows for agriculture to be included in the ETS.

Anyone thinking that a vote for NZ First would deliver a more right leaning government may now be ruing their judgement. However the outcome was fairly predictable so they shouldn’t be surprised.