I contacted National, Labour, Act, The Maori Party, NZ First, the Greens, the Opportunities Party, the Conservatives and United Future to ask them all three questions. The second party to respond to my questions was The Act Party. Below are my questions and their answers in full and un-edited.
The perception of many of our readers is that left-of-centre political parties prefer immigrants from low socio-economic countries who are highly dependent on the state and poorly educated because immigrants like that will naturally vote for the left-of-centre parties who allowed them in. Which immigrants get priority under Act’s policy and why?
ACT has not released our immigration policy for the 2017 election. However, we believe in general that immigration is a good thing. The perception that immigrants sponge off the taxpayer is not true: A recent New Zealand Initiative report showed that immigrants contribute, on average, a net $2600 per year to government coffers, compared to the New Zealand-born average of $170.
Skilled immigrants ready to fill job vacancies would get priority, as would people who want to invest or start a business here. International students should also be prioritised as they generate revenue allowing universities to provide a better service to New Zealand students, and reduce the burden on taxpayers. Our big cities need an increase in construction activity to meet demand for new houses (and infrastructure), so there should be an allowance for those who are coming to work or invest in the construction sector (once red tape is removed from the planning and building system). Immigrant labour was critical to the Christchurch rebuild.
We would continue to welcome family reunification with the caveat that immigrants should not be eligible for superannuation after only 10 years living in the country, we will announce an extension to this period later in the year.
Many of our readers do not trust the UN to decide which refugees we will get and are concerned that they are not being vetted properly. There is also the problem that Christian and non-Muslim refugees who are more easily able to integrate and assimilate into New Zealand are not safe inside the camps and flee them which results in an almost 100% Muslim refugee intake for New Zealand. Given that we are a Christian and secular country where does your party stand on our refugee quota?
ACT believes the New Zealand government should carry out thorough checks on any individual seeking refugee status here, over and above the checks done by any outside body. All immigrants to New Zealand, including refugees, would need to pass good character tests. We also support a New Zealand Values Statement to which new arrivals would be asked to commit, covering religious freedoms, free speech, and equal rights regardless of race, religion, gender and sexuality.
We would tie the quota to population growth to avoid it being used as a political football as it is now. We would also allow private organisations to sponsor new refugees, putting up the money necessary to support their settlement and integration into the community. Our sponsorship policy would mean, for example, churches could put up money donated by their members to support refugees integrating into the community. For example, the Salvation Army may choose to sponsor only Christian-minority refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Sponsors could identify individuals and families themselves. Privately sponsored refugees would still be subject to the same thorough checks.
Our readers would also like to know if your party would support putting persecuted minorities such as Christian and non-Muslim refugees at the front of the queue?
As I’ve expressed above, we would allow privately funded organisations to choose what type of refugees to sponsor. In general, only the most persecuted people should be eligible for refugee status, however. Refugee law is intended to protect people who are forced to leave their home countries due to persecution and war, and should be prioritised on an individual basis considering 1) need, and 2) character.