Thank you for being here.
I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about and explain
A lot of people don’t actually know what happened in this country
And it was a deliberate policy of successive governments – National and Labour governments – over the last two decades to lie and cheat those people who they brought to New Zealand around their chances of transitioning to residency.
To lie and cheat people so that 15 percent of the tertiary education budget was being paid by you in order to subsidise the New Zealand public education system.
But there was no a single, actually, they subsidised the public education system but did not increase the number of New Zealand-born students in the public education system.
They weren’t using it to expand access to the public education system, they were using it just as a subsidy – they were essentially taxing people with a lie that they would get a chance at residency.
The students and the workers who came were given a lie that would get a chance.
I want to explain why it was a lie and how deliberate it was.
In New Zealand, for several decades, the New Zealand residents we lost 40,000 a year on average to Australia and other countries.
On average we were losing 40,000 a year overseas. We’ve done it every year for two decades.
Two decades ago, in the year 2000, we had three main categories of people coming in.
Students – 40,000; workers – 40,000; permanent residents 40,000. So we were losing 40,000 and we were bringing in around 40,000 permanent residents to replace them and another 40,000 on work visas and another 40,000 on student visas.
Since the year 2000 the student visa numbers have trebled to 120,000, the worker visa numbers have increased six times to quarter of a million before Covid
And the permanent resident number stayed the same – 40,000.
It was never intended for you to have residency. It was never intended you to access residency. You were stolen from in my view.
I am deeply ashamed of my governments – both governments. Deeply ashamed that they told you to come here and study at our universities and work in these jobs and you will have a chance at residency when they knew it was a lie.
You cannot squeeze quarter of a million and another 120,000 – that is 360,000 visas in 2020 before Covid – 360,000 visas being issued to people and then have the permanent residence number not changing at all in two decades.
They were putting you all on a treadmill that had no exit.
So now we have people who have been here a decade or more – I met one chef in an Indian restaurant last week – 14 years he had been here, renewing his visa.
They had been taking money off him every few years, taking money off him, taking money off him. taking money off him. And it’s theft. It’s theft.
When they charge you 40 or 50 thousand dollars to go to university for a year
And they tell you on the Immigration New Zealand website that you are going to have a chance of transitioning to residency
and they know that it is a lie then they are stealing that money off you.
I think all governments over the last twenty years owe the immigrant community in New Zealand the deepest apologies possible for stealing from you, for cheating you for depriving you of your rights.
Now we have an opportunity. Covid gave us an opportunity. It is a horrible disaster in the world and in many of the countries where many of you are from
But in this country, it has given us an opportunity to do a reset on a humanitarian basis
Because they brought people here and they knew they were going to be exploited. They knew they were going to be cheated. Not just taking money off you to subsidise the public education system,.
Every time the Ministry – so Because of this very large number of people coming in on these temporary visas, whole industries were dependent on migrant labor, recycling migrant labor.
All of agriculture, hotels, hospitality, restaurants, construction and so on. Industry after industry.
And every time the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment did an investigation of an industry, it found that 80 to 90 percent of the employers were not meeting legal minimum standards. 80-90 percent. New Zealand employers mostly.
In the Christchurch construction industry after the earthquake and the rebuild – 90 percent of the employers were not meeting minimum legal standards.
The solution wasn’t to lock them up, prosecute them for being cheats and liars and depriving their workers – no, no (the employers) got a slap on the wrist and (told) to do better.
But they did agree at the time that the visas should be decoupled. They said that in order to reduce exploitation in the construction industry in Christchurch workers should be able to change their jobs.
So they know it’s a solution. It’s a solution that the immigration department (MBIE) proposed for the Christchurch workers but have refused to extend that principle to workers across New Zealand.
They know what the solutions are. They know that the only way we can fix this problem is to give
– pathways to residency
– reunite the families
– decouple the visas. and
– amnesty for overstayers
Because it is not their fault they have been forced into that situation. It the dirty, filthy exploitative system that was created to do it.