Barry Soper: Shane Jones is having a whale of a time

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Mar 2020, 11:32AM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Barry Soper: Shane Jones is having a whale of a time

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Mar 2020, 11:32AM

COMMENT:

Shane Jones has likened himself to a bowhead whale with a powerful blowhole that's had its say for a while and is now going back into the deep to contemplate the issues.

But the unrepentant Jones says rapid population growth issues are worth debating and he cites figures to back up his argument.

Our population reached four million in 2002, and is expected to reach five million this year - taking just 18 years to add a million. The previous million took 29 years (1973-2002), Statistics NZ data shows, and the million before that 21 years (1952-1973).

Let's get some perspective on what Jones actually said to Newshub's The Nation.

"If you want another million, two million, three million people, we should debate it and there should be a mandate, rather than opening up the options, unfettered, and everyone comes here from New Delhi.

"I don't like that idea at all. I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many institutions."

Jacinda Ardern was furious it seems, telling the Indian Weekender if voters didn't like what he said then they can let him know at the ballot box. Now that was surely cutting her nose off to spite her face, given Labour may come to depend on Jones taking out the Northland seat if it has a chance of staying in power.

So have Indian students coming here ruined institutions?

At the end of 2016 Labour's tertiary education spokesman, David Cunliffe, said the Key Government allowed "visa factories" to flourish, turning New Zealand into a supermarket for low-grade diplomas which do nothing to solve this country's real skills shortages.

At the same time Darren Conway, chief executive of Languages International, told us he'd campaigned for years against dishonest practises in the sector. He said it was obvious that some schools cannot be running an honest operation because their fees are too low to cover the cost of teaching, let alone other overheads.

But Conway argued students were often partly responsible for their own plight. He said it was relatively easy for desperate Indian students and their families to get around the rule that requires them to have $15,000 in the bank before they come here.

They were cobbling that money together from family and friends but once they got the visa they turned up with no money - which made them vulnerable to exploitation.

The now-defunct school, the International Academy of New Zealand (IANZ), was passing students it should have failed.

Figures released to the Labour Party at the time under the Official Information Act showed more than 1300 work visas were issued to IANZ's students over two years when government agencies were aware of the problems.

Jones admits he's on the immigration bandwagon with the blessing of his kaumātua Winston Peters which is always the case in the lead-up to an election.

So that bowhead whale will come up for air before too long, you can count on it.