Recently, I was invited by Multicultural New Zealand (also known as Multicultural Council of New Zealand) to speak about our immigration policy and migrant communities.
I said, the truth is that we need to have a conversation about values, before we can have a conversation around numbers.
This is because the debate around immigration policy has really been captured by those with a xenophobic or racist agenda.
This has led to migrants being blamed for a host of issues – from expensive housing and traffic jams to unemployment.
I was clear in my speech and I will be clear now:
Migrants are not to be blamed for the social and economic ills of this country.
Migrants are not to be blamed for the housing crisis.
Migrants are not to be blamed for our children who go to school hungry.
Migrants are not to be blamed for the long hospital wait lists.
Migrants are not to be blamed for our degraded rivers.
It is the government’s failure to plan for the right level of infrastructure and services that has caused this.
Strengthening Labour Inspectorate
This lack of planning has meant that services that are meant to help migrants on their settlement journey are underfunded and can’t do the jobs that we need them to do.
For example – even though only 5% of our workforce are non-permanent resident migrant workers, nearly a third of all prosecutions for employment conditions violations have included a migrant worker. We will boost funding for the Labour inspectorate so they can more proactively address this.
Multicultural associations, migrant centres and advocacy groups, which not only support settlement journeys but bring needed diversity and social connections throughout New Zealand, are constantly struggling to survive.
Funding Migrant Centres
Just last month – the Canterbury Migrant Centre was forced to close due to lack of funding. The Green Party will initiative a review of funding with the goal of ensuring that these groups get a certain level of baseline funding so they can do their jobs without having to chase the next dollar.
The Green Party is committed to reflecting the aspirations of an increasingly diverse Aotearoa through our policies.
We are also committed to ensuring that our Caucus looks more like modern New Zealand. At this election, we have got the most diverse list of candidates that we have ever had, including Raj Singh in Manukau East.
We still have a long way to go – but we are committed to listening to your community and advocating for your needs.
Because we are only great, if we are great together.
James Shaw is Co-Leader of the Green Party of New Zealand.