Last week (Prime Minister) Bill English announced that the National Government was backing down on proposed changes to the immigration system that would have seen it become harder for migrants to get work visas and permanent residence.
The initial motivation for the policy was to appease its conservative base.
One can only assume he was hoping the global sentiments that saw Brexit pass and Trump elected would help him hang onto the popularity his predecessor enjoyed.
However economic and social realities could not be ignored and hence came a highly embarrassing public back down to prevent farmers and employers leaving them.
While New Zealand People’s Party welcome this change in policy, we are appalled at the process by which it came about. Policies on which the prosperity and overall stability of the economy are so reliant on should not be made on the fly at the whim of the Prime Minister; nor should they be made for the sole purpose of garnering votes from special interest groups.
Changes to strategically important policies such as immigration should be made at the benefit and consideration of all New Zealanders.
Mr English seems to have forgotten that the Government works for the whole country, not just for National Party voters.
Immigration can be a very evocative topic and New Zealand has hard-enough time talking about it without being xenophobic.
Instead of taking leadership on this issue and directing the country towards having a more productive conversation around immigration, Mr English has made it clear that the National Party have no principled views on immigration and will flip flop with what gets the most votes.
When we created our immigration policy, we were mindful of not just the needs of our communities but of New Zealand as a whole.
It is easy to create immigration policies that benefit our communities but the only way for them to be successful is for them to work for all of New Zealand.
Turning away from reality
This should not be news to an MP with 27 years’ experience, and in his second stint as Party Leader. But the National Party under Mr English has complete disregard for wider New Zealand and since he has become leader they have turned their back on us.
The Labour Party turned their backs on our communities a long time ago, and now that National have made it clear that they are only interested in the needs of their special interest groups, it is more important than ever that we have a voice in Parliament.
Roshan Nauhria is Leader of the New Zealand People’s Party based in Auckland.