Grant Robertson is right, we must not be scared to debate immigration

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Robertson…after speaking at Labour’s election year Congress in Wellington – a speech in which he defended Labour’s policy to cut immigrant numbers, saying it was a matter of policy not race and anyone who tried to make it about race should be “called out.”

Of course, the debate about Immigration should not be about race. The debate needs to be about values. Apart from the obvious requirement that the immigrants we let in should be benefiting our country in some way ( we are not here just to meet their needs), we need to focus on whether or not they are capable of integrating into our society. We need new immigration policies to reflect this.

He told the 400 candidates and delegates at the Congress in Te Papa that immigration put infrastructure and housing under strain and every country in the world had measures to restrict people coming through its borders.

“We need to manage that carefully at the moment while we build our infrastructure back up.

If we make the debate about values then the debate is not about immigrants’ race or religion. We cannot be scared to talk about their cultural values, however. We cannot ensure that people are compatible with our Western cultural values if we limit our discussion to infrastructure and housing the way Labour is.

Asked afterwards how he reconciled that with Labour’s own actions, such as using real estate data and Chinese surnames to try to highlight foreign buyers, Robertson said the party learned a lot from the reaction to that.

“I think Phil [Twyford] has been very clear he learned from that, that it didn’t come out the way intended. What I stated today was what I believe the Labour values are.

We can’t be scared to have a debate about the rules we have for people coming into New Zealand. It’s just important we have that debate not about individuals, not about their race but about the policies that underpin it.”

– NZ Herald

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