Wednesday, October 23, 2019
For long, migrants coming to this country were under the impression that bringing their legitimate partners along with them in the country of residence a legitimate expectation.
A minister in the government, Shane Jones, has categorically told Kiwi-Indian people, in a blatantly contemptuous manner, that "you have no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand."
Clearly, escalating a general anti-immigrant rant, which is ideally more suitable on social media platforms, at a proper government policy level on a specific and sensitive issue of bringing one's chosen life-partner, is a bit low.
A comment bit too far
Till now, immigrants in this nation, ethnic minority immigrants in particular, have been accustomed to hearing anti-immigrant sentiments of all sorts.
However, hearing it from a government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, if not scary, then at least, is not a good look for this government of compassion.
There could have hardly been a bigger inner-contradiction in this government than this one of telling people to pack and "catch next flight home."
For the uninitiated, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters had told RNZ's Morning Post today, "You're either a partner under New Zealand law, or you're not.
"It's clear as daylight - they're not partners - full stop," Mr Peters asserted.
Mr Peters was commenting on the issue of partnership visa declines that have largely been affecting Indian-origin people as Immigration New Zealand had introduced new expectation that couples should be "living together" before becoming eligible to enter the country.
Immigration New Zealand Manager Peter Elms had conceded that their job is just to implement the government policy of the day, and the change that they had introduced since May this year of emphasising on "living together" is a clear government expectation.
While the comment has expectedly generated a lot of sentiments, which probably was the primary goal, keeping in sight of next general elections in 2020, there is need to calm emotions and see the entire issue objectively.
Any government of the day has absolute freedom to decide on immigration numbers as it may decide, hopefully in community's expectation and the country's basic need to sustain economic growth and maintain general cohesive social integration.
Immigration policy has different goals to achieve in order to fulfil, sometimes even mutually irreconcilable goals; this is why there are numerous visa categories, as country's needs and views keep evolving.
Any government of the day has, and should always have, the prerogative to implement immigration policy as the government deem fit for the nation.
However, has the government got it right in what is best for this country is the question to ask?
This government is clearly in contradiction now.
On the one hand, we have a Prime Minister who is the epitome of compassion and empathy and a great supporter of social cohesion and multiculturalism.
Chief Govt Whip, Michael Wood's reassuring comment
Closer in Auckland, there is Chief Government Whip and Labour MP for Mt Roskill, and a great friend of the Kiwi-Indian community Michael Wood, who explicitly told the Indian Weekender that he does not share the seemingly outrageous sentiments.
On being questioned if the comment issued by Deputy Prime Minister this morning was racist Mr Wood said that he had not heard Deputy Prime Minister's comment.
In response to the “get on the first plane home” comment, however, he reassuringly said, "I certainly do not share these sentiments and want to see all members of the community in New Zealand treated with respect."
This is indeed reassuring that not everyone in this government shares the sentiments of sending “disgruntled people home on the next flight”.
However, this government definitely has a task on hand, to address this much overflowing inner-contradiction, which is evidently bigger than just agreeing on numbers of immigration allowed in the country.
Given that the outrageous suggestion that the "disgruntled Indians should take next flight home" has come from a second-highest level in the government, it would be helpful if the reassurance could also come from the level of the Prime Minister.
More than anything else it will help this government to address the inner-contraction.