James Shaw: “Migrants are not to blame…”

Green co-leader James Shaw spoke in Dunedin today (and despte what he said it isn’t cold for this time of year).

He talked about immigration numbers but also in avoiding scapegoating.


Kia ora kotou, nihao, namaste, annyong, kamusta, talofalava, bula, salam alaikum

And warm Pacific greetings – on this cold Dunedin morning – to you all.

***

It’s a privilege to be representing the Green Party at your AGM.

We in the Greens are deeply concerned that the debate about immigration policy in New Zealand has, over the course of time, come to be dominated by populist politicians preaching a xenophobic message in order to gain political advantage.

This ugly strain of political discourse is quieter at times of low net migration into New Zealand, but rises at times of when net migration is high – as it is now, and so, at this election, sadly, the xenophobic drum is beating louder.

Last year I made an attempt to try and shift the terms of the debate away from the rhetoric and more towards a more evidence-based approach.

We commissioned some research which indicated that immigration settings would be best if tied to population growth.

Unfortunately, by talking about data and numbers, rather than about values, I made things worse.

Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.

We were mortified by that, because, in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament. And I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities.

Migrants are not to blame for the social and economic ills of this country.

Migrants are not to blame for the housing crisis.

Migrants are not to blame for our children who go to school hungry.

Migrants are not to blame for the long hospital waitlists.

Migrants are not to blame for our degraded rivers.

It is the government’s failure to plan for the right level of infrastructure and services that has caused this.

***

So today I am not going to talk about numbers, but about values.

And, in all honesty, I don’t think New Zealand will be able to talk about numbers and settings until we’ve had the conversation about values and principles.

Until we can agree on those, we’ll just lurch around responding to changing circumstances or the latest headline.

And what are the values that the Green Party stands for? We stand for an open, inclusive and tolerant Aotearoa New Zealand that welcomes people who want to make a contribution.

We stand for an Aotearoa that stands up to racism and scapegoating and xenophobia.

That’s what’s missing from the debate about immigration. The rhetoric and scapegoating around election year means that people miss the fact that ‘immigrants’ aren’t a sea of strange faces.

They’re people, families, individuals. With hopes and dreams and aspirations. With fears and anxieties and worries. Humans who need love and need to love.

New New Zealanders who love their new homes and want to do so much to give and to give truth to that love.

But New Zealand needs to be better at showing that love back. We haven’t always lived up to that Kiwi mythos of giving people a fair go and being welcoming to strangers.

We have a tendency to treat immigrants as economic units who are either a benefit or a threat to our narrow economic interests.

We tend not to think of immigrants as people in their own right, as people who come to this country for the promise of a better life – as all our ancestors once did.

***

Look at how we treat our migrant workers – often putting them through harsh conditions and low pay just for the privilege of coming here.

It’s shameful that although only 5% of the total workforce are migrant workers – about a third of prosecutions involving employment condition violations involve a migrant worker.

And MBIE doesn’t have enough resources to deal with the problem. We know from their 2016 annual report that they’re falling well short of doing the interventions they need (up to 1049 short) and that one in five investigations are taking longer than six months.

That’s unacceptable. We will invest more resources into the Labour Inspectorate so that we can have more proactive investigations and less migrant worker exploitation.

***

And look at how we treat non-Pakeha New Zealanders in this country. According to a report by the human rights commissioner – one-in-ten Pasifika and one-in-five Asians have faced discrimination in the last 12 months.

Having a non-Pakeha name means you’re 50% less likely to get a call-back for a job interview. Being a migrant means you’re more likely to be over-qualified and over-experienced in the job you do.

And we need to address these issues. The Greens want to trial ethnicity-blind and gender-blind CVs to address discrimination.

***

Look also at how we treat our multicultural associations and migrant centres. Last month the Canterbury Migrant Centre was forced to close due to lack of funding.

The value that your groups bring to New Zealand – not only in easing the settlement process for new migrants but for the diversity and social connections you bring to your areas has been underappreciated for far too long.

The Greens at the heart of government will initiate a funding review so that the valuable work you do is rewarded and recognized through a consistent baseline of funding – so you can get on with the job rather than having to constantly chase the next dollar.

***

Look at how we rip off foreign students with the promise of a so-called high-quality New Zealand education and a pathway to residency.

But then thousands, if not tens of thousands, of these students end up in terribly dodgy private training establishments, doing courses that get them a certificate barely worth the paper it’s printed on and of no value to being able to find a job.

And in the meantime they end up being exploited, working for below minimum wages, and unable to get decent accommodation at a price they can afford. I mean, what way is that to treat anybody, let alone a guest in our house? That’s just a rip-off.

***

I’m proud to lead a party that stands for the politics of love and inclusion, not hate and fear.

I’m also proud to be standing with the most diverse list of candidates we’ve ever put forward for an election. They include:

Two Pasifika candidates – Leilani Tamu, a former diplomat and Fulbright Scholar, and Teanau Tuiono, an climate change advocate for the Pacific Islands
Two Chinese New Zealanders – David Lee, a City Councillor, and Julie Zhu, a freelancer in the theatre and film industries
Raj Singh, an Indian lawyer and successful business owner
Rebekah Jaung, a Korean doctor, currently also doing her PhD
Ricardo Menéndez March, from Mexico, a migrant rights campaigner.
And of course, many of you will have already read about Golriz Ghahraman, who came to New Zealand as a nine-year old refugee from Iran, and who is now an Oxford-educated human rights lawyer who puts war criminals on trial at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

These, our candidates for Parliament in this year’s election, represent our commitment to the journey of looking more like modern New Zealand and being able to advocate for all New Zealanders.

And we are the furthest along this journey that we have ever been – thanks to the efforts of my colleague Denise Roche, who has been reaching out to ethnic and migrant communities, with sixty-five meetings all over New Zealand, over the last three years.

But we do still have a long way to go.

We will continue to make sure that our party not only looks like modern New Zealand – but also reflects the needs of all New Zealanders.

We haven’t always gotten it right – and we won’t always in the future, either.

But I promise that we will listen to you and learn from our mistakes.

Openness, inclusiveness and tolerance must win out over racism and scapegoating and xenophobia.

Love and inclusion must win out over hate and fear.

We are only great, when we are great together.

 

More Peters posturing on immigration

Winston Peters gave a speech yesterday to the Auckland Rotary Club, slamming immigration and other party’s policies on immigration.

He started oddly:

Fully aware as one’s experience tells you that this is not an audience susceptible to conversion when the facts are laid out.

That said, it is the intention of this address, to lay some facts before you which you are going to have to live with whether you like it or not.

The first fact is, “you can have great wealth in the hands of a few or you can have democracy and stability – but you can’t have both.”

That is not a fact. It’s nonsense.

Anyone who follows international events knows that we are in troubling, restless and uncertain times.

There is growing discontent in many democracies.

That does appear to be true.

People are increasingly dissatisfied with what the major establishment parties of both the Left and Right have delivered.

Any society that allows a pool of discontented and disaffected young people to grow is playing with fire.

Peters is firing off shots here but I don’t think this is anywhere near as relevant to new Zealand as to some other countries.

People who are buying their own home have a purpose, a direction, and a structure for their lives.

People who are buying a home put down roots in their community – because they have a stake in it.

And secure housing is vital in creating the conditions for raising families.

In general that’s true.

They are not then vulnerable to the blandishments of trouble makers.

That’s an odd statement.

For that reason every New Zealand government prior to this one has worked hard to create the conditions that favour widespread home ownership.

But thanks to both Labour, first, and then National that era has ended.

He seems to contradict himself. Labour ran the government prior to the current National government – and Peters was a part of that Government. There was a major surge in house prices during that time.

It is fashionable for media types to talk about the “gig economy” as something trendy and hip.

I mustn’t be trendy, I haven’t heard of the “gig economy”.

A home and a job – those are core aspects of every adult life.

Labour and then National’s shameful failure in both areas has blighted the lives of countless Kiwis.

The truth is that after 32 years of the neo-liberal experiment the character and the quality of our country has changed dramatically, and much of it for the worse.

Pushing the ‘neo-liberal’ button. Peters has been a part of the establishment Parliament for most of that 32 years (and three terms prior).

  • in 1990 Peters became a Minister in the National Government.
  • In 1996, leading NZ First, Peters helped National form a coalition government and took on the roles of Treasurer (senior to Minister of Finance) and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • In 2005 helped Labour form a coalition government, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Racing.

He has been a willing participant in “the neo-liberal experiment”, although was sacked twice for being contrary.

For those who try to refute that statement let them give us the evidence of how we have risen in the graphs of real economic comparisons and not have countless alternative facts susceptible to various sociological interpretations and beloved only in the eye of the beholder.

What?

Such as – show us one piece of economic analysis, just one piece, that says mass immigration is good for a modern economy.

He throws an alternative fact in – New Zealand does not have anything like “mass immigration”, our immigration is very controlled. Most of the fluctuations in numbers are due to the free movement of New Zealanders.

Allowing unprecedented levels of immigration – a staggering 72,000 net migrants a year – directly impacts housing and jobs.

You heard that correctly. There is no mistake.

But there is a mistake. The current rate of net immigration has risen to 71,900 (year to April 2017), but that is a 10% increase on the previous year, it is not per year.

Annual net migration (to July each year):

  • 2016:  +69,000
  • 2015: +59,600
  • 2014: +41,000
  • 2013: +10,600
  • 2012: -3,800
  • 2011: +2,900
  • 2010: +15,200
  • 2009: +14,500
  • 2008: +

It is as plain as day – immigrants need housing and jobs themselves. Notice they don’t bring housing and jobs with them!

But only one political party in New Zealand understood that for a long time.

Yeah, right.

Labour admitted that last week. On this matter their policy is identical to National’s.

That is not a fact.

So here is their FARCICAL VIRTUOUS CIRCLE.

“We need more migrants, to build the houses and the roads for migrants.”

What utter stupendous, imbecilic, idiotic, moronic nonsense.

Yet these parties are in total denial of the facts – they have either the arrogance or stupidity to pretend this isn’t so.

Peters mentions ‘facts’ frequently but rarely actually cites facts.

If we had a government that was actually serious about improving the housing and employment prospects of young people we would see action.

There has been action, it has just been inadequate.

It would pull the obvious lever it does have – and close the open immigration door.

The Government can adjust immigration levels – but it is difficult switching numbers off and on quickly, especially when a large proportion of movements is New Zealanders, which can’t be controlled.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on 12 June the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag and revealed what is actually behind the absurd level of immigration.

When asked why there was not a drastic cutback to immigration his reply was that if that happened it would stall the economy. Bingo!  So that’s how strong the economy really is.

In effect, Bill English is saying “IMMIGRATION IS THE ECONOMY”. So if the brakes are applied, collapse is on the cards.

At last the admission that the whole dishonest show on the economy is a con.

Who is trying to con who?

All our policies are framed with a concern for the future health and security of New Zealand as a whole.

The New Zealand national interest is our starting point.

And there is one overriding imperative right now that is in the national interest and it is to cut back immigration to a sensible level.

We mean closer to 10,000 highly skilled immigrants a year, not 72,000 mostly unskilled immigrants per year.

Many of the 72,000 are skilled migrants and returning New Zealanders.

Our policy will immediately brighten the housing and employment prospects for younger Kiwis.

That’s doubtful, especially on housing, as much as the Government and the Auckland City Council have tried there are no easy or quick fixes to the housing shortage.

If we don’t deal to this crisis created by the other political parties support or condonation of mass immigration we can’t effectively deal with any other concern.

And because of the magnitude of their shorts-sightedness it is going to take well over a decade to fix up.

So it won’t immediately brighten the future.

But beginning with this issue New Zealand First has the policies to rebuild this country and when our manifesto is out soon I trust you will read it.

In the next 96 days you are going to see or hear numerous speculative comment on what New Zealand First is going to do and you can be certain of one thing. None of those commentators will be reciting anything I said.

I have just recited what Peters has said from  Speech: Rt Hon Winston Peters – The farcical virtuous circle, immigration is the economy

But the great news, confirmed from overseas evidence, is that those in politics who speak straight to the people, do gain their support.

And quickly lose that support when their deeds don’t match their rhetoric, as Donald Trump. And Peters barely uses Twitter anyway.

Bad timing by Greens on refugees

Greens want to substantially increase the number of refugees coming into New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB:  Greens push for even bigger intake of refugees

The Green Party is pushing for an even bigger intake of refugees into New Zealand.

It is looking to further extend the country’s refugee policy, and is committing to do more than double the current quota.

Co-leader James Shaw said they would aim to increase the quota to 4000 refugees a year, to be phased in over six years.

“We would need to build an additional refugee resettlement centre, that would not be in Auckland. We would be asking council to apply. We know that there are number who are already keen,” he said.

Shaw said they would also introduce a new community support programme that would allow NGOs and support agencies to take in another 1000 refugees annually.

“When the Syrian crisis really hit the front pages last year, we did hear from a lot of community organisation, church groups and NGO’s to say actually we do have capacity, we do want to be able to support refugees. And so we are taking them up on that offer,” he said.

Immigration is a hot topic leading into the New Zealand election campaign.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First wants to substantially reduce immigration numbers, but they don’t seem to have any policy on refugees – see their Immigration Policy.

Labour announced policy last week that would reduce overall immigration by tens of thousands – see Time for a breather on immigration – but that doesn’t mention refugees. A fact sheet states “These changes won’t affect the Refugee Quota”. It also gives numbers:

Labour will increase the refugee quota to 1,500.

This will continue Labour’s proud tradition of welcoming victims of war and disaster to our shores, which extends back to taking in refugees during World War II and is just as needed today, with conflicts such as in Syria creating the largest number of displaced persons since 1945.

The Green proposal is substantially more, with an eventual aim of 4,000 refugees per year.

There may be many more Syrian refugees looking for a safe haven as their civil war escalates yet again – see US shoot down Syrian jet – but with an escalation in Muslim tensions in the UK – see London Finsbury Park Mosque attack – there are likely to be growing concerns and opposition.

The timing of Green proposal may have been pre-planned but it is unlikely to be well received with the current international situations deteriorating.

 

 

Shaw could work with Peters with gritted teeth

James Shaw has said he would prefer not to have to work with Winston Peters, but would if it meant changing the Government (getting National out of power).

This suggests he sees a NZ First dictated coalition as better for the country than the current Government.

It also implies that he thinks a Labour+Green+NZ First collation would do better for Green policy preferences than National+Green

Newshub: ‘If I have to’ – Greens co-leader James Shaw on working with Winston Peters

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he’ll work with Winston Peters if that’s what it takes to change the Government.

“If you look at the trends in the polls… it’s about level pegging,” says Mr Shaw. “This is a very close election.”

“I can [work with Mr Peters] if I have to. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

It may be the Greens only choice if they refuse to work with National.

Last year Mr Shaw and his co-leader Metiria Turei were split on whether working with the National Party was a possibility – Mr Shaw open to it, and Ms Turei “100 percent” against it.

It is claimed that Green Party members, who theoretically at least would make any decision on who they would and wouldn’t go into coalition with, are strongly against working with National.

On current polling Labour+Greens are nowhere near getting a majority, and Labour has gone backwards in the latest Newshub poll to 26%. Greens didn’t pick up all Labour’s shed support, they were on 12.5% but combined that is less than 40%.

NZ First rose more to 9.4% and may challenge Greens for the third party spot. They may have no choice than to go with NZ First and Labour.

If that happens it won’t only be Shaw with gritted teeth.

In an interview with The Spinoff in March, Ms Turei said despite Mr Peters being “annoying as hell” and holding “racist views”, she admired him for his tenacity and the advice he’s given her over the years.

Shane Jones looks set to join NZ First and seems to have more rancid racist views – see Jones signals a rancid approach.

Greens claim to be much better than this, but Shaw suggests they would join with it anyway, ironically to oust National who have more open immigration policies than Labour and especially NZ First.

Who needs principles when you want power?

Jones signals a rancid approach

Shane Jones joining Winston Peters and NZ First has been signalled for months. One report suggested an announcement was imminent.

Jones has signalled his approach to campaigning with comments on immigration.

Newshub:  Shane Jones’ anti-immigration slur

Former Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development Shane Jones has let loose on the Government’s immigration policy, slamming it as “conceited”.

In response, Mr Jones slammed the current Government’s immigration policy.

“The Government’s become conceited, it’s got an unhinged immigration policy, international education is now synonymous with butter chicken – rancid,” he said.

Peters has long played a careful anti-immigrant game.

Jones has signalled a more openlv rancid approach.

He will no doubt be attract media attention, but time will tell whether he can attract votes for NZ First. He could amplify Winston’s dog whistling, but this risks overstepping and dragging NZ First down.

If his comments here are an indication his gungho approach may end up in the gutter – there are some votes there bu it could also turn others off.

Reactions to Labour’s immigration policy

Labour announced their immigration policy yesterday – see Little announces Labour’s immigration policy.

Greens are usually quick to respond to political news of the day but have nothing on their website about it yet.

NZ Herald:  English says Labour’s immigration ‘breather’ would stall momentum in the economy

Prime Minister Bill English’s strenuous opposition to Labour’s proposed “breather” in immigration draws a clear battle-line in the election.

Labour leader Andrew Little wants net migration cut from the current 70,000 a year by up to 30,000 – mainly targeting overseas students – saying it will relieve pressure on Auckland road by 20,000 cars and 10,000 houses annually.

But English says Labour’s policy is based on a misunderstanding of the export education sector – 70 per cent to 80 per cent of such students left New Zealand at the end of their study, the students did not buy houses and not many had cars.

English also said the cut would stall the momentum in the economy which was producing 10,000 new jobs every month.

RNZ:  Labour’s immigration policy could ruin colleges – industry

Up to 70 percent of private training colleges could collapse if Labour’s new immigration policy is implemented, an organisation representing the industry says.

The Labour Party’s policy targets international students on low-level courses, in a bid to cut down migration by up to 30,000 people a year.

Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand, which represents the industry, predicts up to 70 percent of the sector’s business could collapse.

Chairperson Christine Clark said targeting private training establishments (PTEs) would not solve the problem.

She said Mr Little had confused low level with low quality, and the policy sent a message that people who studied at PTEs were low-level people.

“By saying low level, he’s also targeting the providers who are training the chefs and training the barristers and the technicians and the horticultural people and the farmers and the caregivers.

“New Zealand actually needs those people.”

Dave Guerin from Ed Insider, a company which gives advice to tertiary education groups, said polytechnics would also be in trouble.

“Polytechnics are heavily reliant on the Indian and Chinese market. In some places they make up 80 to 90 percent of their international students.

“I’ve just gone through most of the polytechnic sector’s annual reports. Most of them are seeing growth in international students and declines in domestic students, so if they see a decline in international student then they’ll be in the red financially.”

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said about 20 percent of its workers were on student visas.

Mr Chapman liked Labour’s idea of a visa system which would help people get more jobs in the regions, but said the overall policy did not promote growth.

“The whole policy needs to recognise that we do need skilled workers in this country, be they Kiwis or [through] immigration. We need that balance.

“Any policy that pushes down and stops growth is not assisting the industry going forward.”

RNZ:  ‘Pandering’: Rival MPs criticise Labour immigration plan

United Future leader Peter Dunne…

…said Labour’s plan was “really all about race and pandering to a certain section of the vote”.

“It’s a nod and a wink to try to get New Zealand First on side.

“But frankly it’s going to have a detrimental effect on a number of tertiary institutions in terms of their funding [and] also in terms of the skillset coming into New Zealand.”

ACT leader David Seymour…

…said it was a sad day when “the major opposition party starts beating the race drum”.

“They’ve clearly been watching the UK election. They’ve seen UK Labour do well from the collapse of UKIP [United Kingdom Independence Party]. They’re getting desperate.

“They think that maybe they can engineer something like that by moving into New Zealand First’s territory.”

The Green Party…

…is worried some might see the policy as a pitch to xenophobia, but has come to Labour’s defence.

Co-leader James Shaw said he did not think that was where Labour was coming from.

“They’ve done a lot of work and they’ve come a long way from where they were in this debate.

“My sense is that they are trying to reframe the debate as one about how we manage this for the sake of the people who are coming here.”

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters…

…said Labour had finally seen the light.

“But when we were saying it, we were being dumped on by all and sundry, and now all of a sudden the lightbulb’s gone off.

“They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and that’s about the size of it.”

Andrew Little has just been asked on RNZ what endorsement of Labour’s immigration policy by Peters meant. Little said he was happy to get support for the policy from anyone.

 

 

Little announces Labour’s immigration policy

Andrew Little has announced Labour’s immigration policy:


Time for a breather on immigration

Labour will introduce moderate, sensible reforms to immigration to reduce the pressure on our cities, while ensuring we get the skilled workers our country needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“New Zealand is a country built on immigration. When new migrants come here, they enrich our country and make New Zealand a better place. We’ve always welcomed migrants to our country, and will continue to do so.

“In recent years, our population has been growing rapidly as record numbers of migrants arrive here. National didn’t foresee this and hasn’t planned for the impact it’s having on our country. Since 2013, immigration has been more than four times what was forecast – 130,000 more people than expected have settled here, equivalent to the population of Tauranga.

“After nine years, National has failed to make the necessary investments in housing, infrastructure, and public services that are needed to cope with this rapid population growth. It’s contributed to the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to congestion on roads.

“Immigration needs to be sustainable. We’ve always sought to manage immigration to match our economic needs with our capacity to cope with population growth. We reviewed the system from top to bottom and found that several areas were being abused and not delivering the results Kiwis expect.

“National has taken its eye off the ball; Labour will get the balance right. It’s time for a fresh approach. Labour will make changes to immigration settings that will reduce net immigration by 20,000-30,000 a year.

“This will ease the pressures on New Zealand, and on Auckland, in particular. Without these changes, up to 10,000 more houses would be needed each year and up to 20,000 more cars would be on our roads each year.

“National’s policies have created a backdoor to residency via low-level study and low-skill work. These have had the perverse effect that a 23 year old with a New Zealand diploma and three years’ experience in retail can get more points towards residency than a 45 year old Oncologist who wants to migrate here. A third of international students studying at PTEs say they plan to work or seek residency here after study.

“Closing off the ability to work during and after study for people who do low-level courses will stop backdoor immigration. We will end the culture of exploitation and corruption that’s grown up to prey on people using this route to come to New Zealand.

“Our changes will ensure New Zealand gets the skills it needs and we continue to grow the high quality education sector.

“As part of this we will better target skills shortages to regions. Improved regionalisation of skills shortage lists and better enforcement of the Labour Market Test will make it easier for regions with genuine skills shortages to get the migrant workers they need.

“At the same, time Labour will make it easier for people with exceptional skills and talents to come to New Zealand with a new Exceptional Skills Visa. We’ll also create a KiwiBuild Visa specifically targeted at building tradespeople. The KiwiBuild Visa will allow building firms to bring in skilled workers as long as they also train the same number of New Zealanders and will be additional to construction work visas issued under existing rules.

“New Zealand is rightly proud of its immigrant communities and the contribution they make to our country. But we need to take a breather and get the balance right. Labour’s fresh approach will ensure the immigration system works for everyone,” says Andrew Little.

Emigration rates to Australia

This chart from Stats NZ shows how much of a factor emigration to Australia – or lack thereof – was what is behind the big shift in net immigration.

It has dropped from nearly 40,000 per year to about 15,000 per year in five years.

Australia versus New Zealand

RNZ:  Australia considers NZ ‘soft entry’ point – PM

Prime Minister Bill English says he does not understand why Australia thinks New Zealand is a backdoor route for migrants wanting to get into their country.

New Zealanders living in Australia have been stung by numerous new policies that affect their entitlements and rights in the past few years.

At his weekly post cabinet media briefing yesterday, Mr English said Australian officials believed this country had become a backdoor way for migrants to enter their country.

“We would like to, I suppose, understand precisely what their concern is, because there is no evidence that the New Zealanders moving to Australia constitute some unique or special burden on Australia,” he said.

Mr English said the economic evidence was that they were “good net contributors”.

“This issue around whether New Zealand is a soft entry to Australia is one that in that context has come up.

“But it’s been quite hard to pin down just what exactly they think the problem is,” he said.

Australia stunned the government last week when it announced that from next year, the fees New Zealanders would pay to study at Australian tertiary institutions would more than triple – affecting about 12,000 people.

Following that surprise, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee met with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, in Sydney where he accepted the lack of a head’s up was a one-off.

But Mr English said Australia gave no assurance similar policies were not on the way.

He said the government had no interest in a tit-for-tat exchange with Australia and it would not be reducing entitlements or rights for their citizens in New Zealand.

This is a big issue for Kiwis in Australia and for many back here in New Zealand. I have three children living and working in Australia.

Peters on Q & A

Winston Peters is being given plenty of media oxygen this week. Following an interview on The National yesterday he was also interviewed by Corin Dann on NZ Q&A this morning – although a slip of the tongue or two referred to it being a debate, probably how Peters sees his one on one encounters with journalists.

It was a typical mix of fair points with dog whistle rhetoric, bluster and straight out bull.

On immigration he addresses common concerns over the numbers coming here and the pressure in infrastructure and housing, but he just blusters when asked to explain how exactly he would achieve much lower numbers.

One thing on which he is totally away with the fairies on is polls. He slammed TVNZ for their polls, but when pushed on this he made some ridiculous assertions.

Dann conceded that NZ First has typically campaigned well and improved on polls by election time, but pointed out that polls were snapshots.

Peters didn’t buy this, and seemed to think that polls now should somehow guess what is going to happen on election day. He sounds convinced he is hard done by on this, if so that’s based on ignorance of how polls work.

When I can get transcript I’ll add it to this post.

NZ First are unusually higher in polls than usual mid term and many think they will improve on that in the election, especially with Labour’s ongoing missteps, but it is far from a given.

It’s possible that NZ First election support simply didn’t drop off after the 2014 election and may not rise much higher, or they may have grown their support base and could do much better this time. Or not.