Green Party self-flagellation for identity politics & the truth about Immigration post election

By   /   July 2, 2017  /   17 Comments

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The Greens have made another smart strategic move, this time a bit of self-flagellation for daring to suggest immigration controls were a good thing…

The Greens have made another smart strategic move, this time a bit of self-flagellation for daring to suggest immigration controls were a good thing…

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.

…as the most middle class Party, the Greens are are moving further away from being an environmental justice party towards total adoption of Identity Politics as their core.

The apology also shows how under the thrall the Greens are from uber liberal twitter opinion who were in the throws of ecstasy yesterday as word of the self-flagellation was released.

For anyone outside the Red Peak bubble of uber liberal middle class Green identity politics, the incredibly mild position James Shaw had taken on immigration which caused so much twitter outrage looks as culturally alienating as a schism between vegans and vegetarians, but rallying migrant voters to the cause is a smart tactic as TOP continues to siphon off support with far more radical environmental and cannabis liberalisation policy as the Greens move to middle class respectability.

The Green apology also raises an important point in the immigration debate. By stating the bleeding obvious, which is that it isn’t the immigrants fault for moving here, the Greens put the focus back on the neoliberal Government policy that is at fault, but this is a difficult line for the Greens to walk.

The Democrats embraced neoliberal globalisation because their middle class voter base have the education to transfer their skills employment wise around the world, the domestic working classes who don’t have transferable skills however rebelled to Trump and Brexit. The Greens, being so painfully middle class, have to embrace the employment pretensions of their activist base which demands open door immigration policies while ignoring the impact of that immigration on the working classes who have to compete for rentals, jobs and public service infrastructure overload.

Policy like ethnicity-blind and gender-blind CVs to address discrimination is so far outside the comfort zone of most NZers it’s surprising the Greens decided to openly announce it, but with this self-flagellation, the Greens are firmly walking away from working class economic social justice issues and towards middle class values.

Seeing as the Greens are running out of electorates to appeal to, it’s a smart move and inoculates them to the outrage their activist base are going to implode with the moment that activist base learn to count and realise Labour + Greens won’t = 51% without NZ First.

Speaking with sources who are in the know, the truth about immigration post the election is that Immigration NZ are expecting a huge influx of NZers moving from Australia back to NZ as the economic squeeze in Australia continues. National are privately waiting to change those immigration settings so that they have a bargaining chip to play with NZ First, but the economic settings that require huge numbers of migrants to move to NZ to keep the property bubble inflated and the property speculating middle classes voting National will remain in effect because of this new huge number of NZers who will flee Australia.

National will simply replace foreign migrants with NZ ones to keep the property bubble in place. Until a political party is prepared to deal with the chronic under investment in our social and physical infrastructure, the same chronic underfunding that is rotting our society will continue.

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17 Comments

  1. Ani White says:

    ugh what happened to leftist internationalism? Open borders for workers, closed borders for capital!

    • Red Buzzard says:

      international idealism is all very fine but what about looking after our own New Zealand workers, Maori and young peoples rights? ..for affordable quality tertiary education, affordable housing and well paying jobs?

      ….not to mention the New Zealand elderly’s right to quality health care that they have paid for in their taxes all their lives?…and the rights of the NZ disabled/mentally impaired for quality health care

      • …”affordable quality tertiary education”…

        Shouldn’t that be free quality education?

        • Geoff Lye says:

          Hell yeah.

          • WILD KATIPO says:

            L0L ! – Im pretty sure RED BUZZARD meant free as well judging by past postings,…

            And I agree we should be looking after our own first. In actual fact – if we really wanted to go that way – we could slash immigration and greatly boost refugee quotas.

            There’s an awful lot of highly qualified people in that camp as well.

            How can we justify this out of control immigration setting while as Red Buzzard says, our own young people, our own citizens who were born here are not being paid a decent wage , often cant afford education , often cant afford to save for a deposit on a home ?

            How can we justify bringing even more people to exacerbate the problem when we cant even look after our own?

            Where are we going to put everybody ?

            In tree huts in the Waitakere Ranges?

            And why should we feel guilty about taking the issue seriously? Are we that indoctrinated by neo liberal concepts of multiculturalism and political correctness that we are doomed forever to be contemplating our navels?

            Face it – the motives behind this were not altruistic , humanitarian or philanthropic , – it was a deliberate, cynical , calculated policy enacted without mandate by a neo liberal National party almost certainly acting on behalf of groups such as the New Zealand Institute to deliberately drive down wages, provide cheap labour ,weaken Trade Unionism even more and provide massive dividends to foreign owned banks via the housing bubble.

            Not quite such a warm and romantic set of motives cast in soft ambient lighting when you look at it this way , now , … is it.

  2. fatty says:

    “with this self-flagellation, the Greens are firmly walking away from working class economic social justice issues and towards middle class values.”

    Not for me.
    This apology from the Greens means I’m now quite likely to vote for them, whereas before the apology I was quite likely to not vote for them.
    Immigrants are working class too. I don’t know why half of the left don’t get this. Pretty simple.
    I want a left party who does not go down the ‘blame immigration’ route that Labour is stumbling down. The Greens’ policies are far better for the working class than Labour’s.

    Labour is the left’s problem, not the Greens.

  3. Red Buzzard says:

    re-

    “Immigrants are working class too. I don’t know why half of the left don’t get this. Pretty simple.”

    ( what a porky that is!)

    ….many are NOT working class and they are buying up New Zealand working class housing and housing which New Zealand youth can not afford…the new would= be immigrants are also able to afford tertiary education which many New Zealanders can not eg honours and postgrad degrees …so working class I think NOT…more like children of the wealthy

    ( btw can foreigners buy land and housing in China and India?)

    ….maybe the NZ Greens should re-name themselves the new immigrant Chinese Green Party?

    • fatty says:

      I agree with your points and wish Little and Labour ended our privileging of wealthy immigrants, but they’re not. They’re going to stop working class immigrants instead.

      I also agree that we have problems for Kiwis accessing post-grad studies. Again, Labour are doing not much there. Stopping post-grad immigrants won’t do anything – Kiwi students can’t afford to keep studying. Labour’s three years of free tertiary education doesn’t cover this. Labour needs to address existing student debt – a write off is the only solution.

      I’m a leftist so I don’t blame immigrants. I leave that to right-wing opportunists like Winnie Peters

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      100% Red Buzzard

      I left the greens in 2001 and they are just another fringe party now. they don’t seem to place the climate and pollution above other issues any more as they appear to not think about where the globe is going with the melting of the arctic poles only just about “social justice” so yes they are more for opening the flood gates to ruin our environment alright.

      More people = pollution.

  4. kejomu says:

    Well, O K, but should’nt we solve our unemployment, housing and sustainability problems before we blindly increase our population?

    • Yes, well, I wonder if that’s what Maori said 200 years ago when British boat-people started arriving on these shores.

      Maori can tell us a thing or two about expropriated land by invading economic migrants.

      • Geoff Lye says:

        Dead right Frank.

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        KEJOMU says:

        … ” Well, O K, but should’nt we solve our unemployment, housing and sustainability problems before we blindly increase our population? ” …

        FRANK MACSKASY says:

        … ” Yes, well, I wonder if that’s what Maori said 200 years ago when British boat-people started arriving on these shores.

        Maori can tell us a thing or two about expropriated land by invading economic migrants. ” …

        ……………………………….

        But the Maori pre European didnt really have ‘ unemployment , or problems with their Whare’s , horticulture, fishing and snaring and gathering , Frank…

        One example is one of direct colonization – often by force of arms and various other deceits … the other is a post colonization government under a modern nation state ,… and a govt that is not doing it for any other reason than to garner votes on the peoples sufferings to remain in power.

        Not as brutal – but just as deceitful.

        And by a modern govt that should know better. However, … they are a neo liberal govt, thus it is second nature for them to be subversives.

  5. WILD KATIPO says:

    … ” The Green apology also raises an important point in the immigration debate. By stating the bleeding obvious, which is that it isn’t the immigrants fault for moving here, the Greens put the focus back on the neoliberal Government policy that is at fault, but this is a difficult line for the Greens to walk. ” …

    ………………………………..

    And this is the crux of the matter and the two words that cannot be named in NZ’s parliament without causing faux outrage and condemnation of all who do…

    Neo Liberalism.

    The REAL reason why we find ourselves in this ridiculous situation in NZ today.

    It actually isn’t about immigrants at all. It is about the sheer numbers coming in and the fact that we lack the infrastructure , – and we cant even look after our OWN citizens – let alone the excessive numbers of immigrants as we have seen under National.

    ………………………………..

    ” … The Democrats embraced neoliberal globalisation because their middle class voter base have the education to transfer their skills employment wise around the world, the domestic working classes who don’t have transferable skills however rebelled to Trump and Brexit. ” …

    ………………………………..

    Exactly. And it is the working classes here in NZ who are feeling the stresses of this neo liberal National govt. And it is also NZ’s working classes who are the ones who are being treated like cattle by the same. People don’t CHOOSE to sleep their family’s in cars and vans in the middle of winter by the way… nor garages , … nor three family’s to a house designed for one.

    Nor do they deliberately choose to not be able to heat their houses or take their children to the doctor when they are ill because they couldn’t afford the rent…

    Nor do they choose to work long hours for unrealistic wages that is less than the costs of living , either…while we are at it…

    Yet here we have this govt quite happily shitting all over the people who ARE citizens.

    Perhaps we should be doing something about our own people before we promise heaven and earth to all and sundry to immigrate here in such large numbers.

    ……………………………….

    … ” ignoring the impact of that immigration on the working classes who have to compete for rentals, jobs and public service infrastructure overload. ” …

    ………………………………..

    And that’s just it.

    There’s something majorly skew – iff about a country whose PM’s denigrate their own people by calling them ‘ to ‘ drug addled’ to work ‘ in order to justify out of control immigration policy and import cheap labour from overseas… particularly when workplace drug testing produced data that stated otherwise…

    More like a little indulgence in propaganda and deflection away from the real motives going on there , I would say…

  6. Sumsuch says:

    Despite being middle-class meself — teacher father, nurse mother– I distrust the Greens. I.e. I distrust the middle class. Voted and contributed. Maybe will vote for them again. Please, some speaking from a working class champion. Mortgages aside, our heart lies with Savage.

  7. Castro says:

    Genius, Greens; No Zealand needs more migrants like Gary Lin, who sit round playing computer games until daddy gives them enough money to start a multi-million dollar property empire. This is no stroke of genius, unless the Greens are planning to go with the Transnational Capital Party.

  8. Red Buzzard says:

    The Greening of Tibet

    https://freetibet.org/about/environment