'Bollywood overreaction': Shane Jones doubles down

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Nov 2019, 6:03PM
Shane Jones says his comments are not racist. (Photo / NZ Herald)

'Bollywood overreaction': Shane Jones doubles down

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Nov 2019, 6:03PM

Outspoken Government minister Shane Jones has doubled down after criticism from the Indian community for what have been called racist comments, saying it's a "Bollywood overreaction".

Members of the Indian community have been calling for Jones to be stood down or apologise after he criticised those unhappy about a tightening up on Government visa requirements that have made it difficult for people in arranged marriages to bring their spouses in New Zealand.

Jones had told RNZ people had "no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand".

"If you don't like it and you're threatening to go home, then catch the next flight home," he said.

Asked whether he regretted his comments, Jones on Tuesday said he was being criticised by "activists" and denied the comments had been racist.

"I am not going to have any migrant tell me as a mokopuna of Tai Tokerau, when my people have been here 1000 years, I'm not going to have an activist tell me I'm racist. Ever," he told reporters.

"I am a Māori, I am entitled to talk about these things. I have no influence over immigration policy."

The Union Network of Migrants and the Waitākere Indian Association are among those who have criticised the New Zealand First MP.

Asked to respond to criticism his comments could stoke more of the kind of hatred that led to the Christchurch shootings, Jones said that was a "Bollywood overreaction".

"I'm giving voice to the anxieties of hundreds of thousands of Kiwis," Jones said.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges described Jones' comments as "entirely unacceptable".

"It's distasteful and it's wrong," Bridges said.

While Jones on Tuesday said changes to immigration had been made "as a Government", the Labour Party has been distancing itself from his comments.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the Government was trying to work through the visa issue - with some in the Indian community walking away from Labour.

Deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis on Tuesday reiterated comments – earlier made by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – that the party disagreed with Jones.

"But New Zealand First are their party," he said.

"The Indian community is a valued group in New Zealand society and we will continue to support them."

Galloway says he has directed officials to find a solution to ensure the Indian community isn't unfairly affected by partnership visa rules, and expects a solution in coming days.

Jones' initial comments came amid mounting anger over a tougher stance by Immigration NZ requiring couples to have spent time living together to qualify to bring partners over.

That's made it difficult for many in culturally arranged marriages to bring their spouses to New Zealand.

Galloway said there had been no Government directive made to Immigration NZ about partnership visas and the stricter enforcement of the rules was an "operational decision".

 

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