A government coming out of seven weeks of severely restricted economic activities should focus on economic revival, and not migrant-bashing.
Migrants in this country, like all New Zealanders, have trusted this government in surrendering their freedoms, and incomes, in a hope that they all will come out on the other side of the battle against the novel Coronavirus, successful and together.
However, the moment we were about to begin celebrations for finally breaking the chain and saving lives and returning back to some sort of normalcy as the country prepares to enter Alert level 2 on Thursday that will see re-start of major commercial activities - the migrants are now being told almost thanklessly and arrogantly - to pack their bags and leave the country.
Since this call is coming from none other than the second in command of this government - Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters - so there shall be no pretension in believing that this is the government's official position - of showing contempt and betrayal towards the migrant communities.
All the theatre of “showing kindness and compassion to each other,” “we are in this together,” have been conveniently and shamelessly thrown out of the window, the moment the government was exposed to the reality of managing the mammoth task ahead of reviving the economy of the country.
Undoubtedly, the government is now facing the mammoth task of re-starting and reviving the economy, and it seems that the government is already short of confidence and self-belief in being up to the task ahead. At least Deputy Prime Minister's charge against migrants is a reflection of that lack of confidence in its abilities.
Clearly, the government cannot sit on its laurels for too long for managing the public health crisis posed by the novel coronavirus, reasonably well as compared to many of its overseas peers.
However, in the process it has clearly taken a significant hit on the economy and financial fortunes of the country, risking massive unemployment and business closures and probably causing many headaches [to the government] just months before the next elections.
Will the Prime Minister again play good cop-bad cop?
To divert the attention, and probably smokescreen this mammoth task ahead, it seems that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is once again relying on the same person - Winston Peters - who has put her Party in the government at the first place, to divert the attention with his pet project of - migrant bashing.
It seems that Prime Minister Ardern will once again play the good-cop-bad cop in respect to her deputy’s unabashed and unprovoked comments against migrants, by pleading to the nation that his statements do not reflect her own or her party’s views, in the same manner as she had unsuccessfully tried at the beginning of this year, to wash away her hands from another Minister’s innuendo against the migrant communities.
Now it will be up to the electorate to decide if they want to see through the smokescreen and buy the simplistic argument against the migrants that they scavenge on Kiwi taxpayers’ money and not on their own hard-earned well-deserved income, in lieu of their willingness to work in the areas and the jobs that are not filled by locals.
Anyway, this government has been thinking and acting in a very simplistic manner in much of its decision making around Covid-19 related public health management.
Giving only wage subsidies and no support to small businesses, who create and sustain jobs during the complete lockdown? Allowing some businesses to flourish while scorching others to destitution during the lockdown? Closing borders in a manner that allows only citizens and permanent residents in the country almost un-monitored, while leaving out thousands of migrant workers and their families who have been normally living in the country on legitimate visas for years and decades?
Before someone might be tempted to cast aspersion on this argument, it should be noted that for weeks after weeks, travellers allowed in the country even after border closures were left un-monitored and allowed to take the virus with them, whereas only migrants by being denied legitimate entry into the country, were bearing the cost of keeping everyone in New Zealand safe from the possible Covid-19 infections.
There are numerous cases and issues where the government has been taking “simplistic views” of the complex issues emanating from a sudden and complex challenge of Covid-19 pandemic.
How does it match up with PM’s moral preaching to Aus Prime Minister
How much double-faced will Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s own emotional preaching to Australian Prime Minister Scot Morrison would now appear in hindsight when she was advocating for the temporary Kiwi workers in Australia being denied social security and support.
Then our Prime Minister had said to Prime Minister Morrison that he will need those highly skilled Kiwi workers as and when Australia will be ready to revive their economy.
What happens to that logic in her home turf here in New Zealand, when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will have the responsibility to lead a similar economic revival.
Will her government does not need the same migrant workers who were working not only before the Covid-19 came to halt our economy, but during the lockdown as well, as our frontline essential workers keeping everyone safe in their homes.
It’s high time that this government come out clean on their views on migrants and not hide conveniently behind Winston Peters anti-migrant rhetoric.
For Mr Peters views on migrants are neither new nor novel like the novel coronavirus.
Winston Peters’s anti-migrant views in a post-Covid-19 world is an oxymoron
In fact, his assertion that the world is not going to be the same after Covid -19 in support of his anti-migrant rhetoric is an oxymoron in itself, as nothing seems to have changed for the migrant communities, despite their equal contribution, if not more, in keeping minimal economic activity going-on while keeping others safe.
They continue to remain a convenient bashing board for the politicians all over the world trying to hide their own incompetencies and inadequacies from the electorate.
However, this government cannot jump on this migrant-bashing bandwagon so quickly, even when they do not have data on hand to assess the scope of economic downturn and the scale of unemployment.
It is more pretentious of this government that has been so appetent on acting on data for taking bold decisive actions in delaying the coming out of lockdown than actually needed, to indulge in migrant bashing even without any numbers and data about the scale of the unemployment and economic damage.
It’s time that the government puts its head down on managing the economic revival rather than unleash anti-migrant rhetoric.