By Peter Wilson
A Bill that would have forced parent category immigrants to have their own health insurance has been defeated in Parliament.
NZ First leader Winston Peters drafted the member's Bill, which would also have given pensioners a 25 percent rebate on their health insurance.
He says up to 5000 immigrants come to New Zealand every year under the parent reunion scheme, most of them over 60, and they have full rights to use the public health system.
The Bill would have made them have their own health insurance for the first 10 years of their residence.
"Our public health system is increasingly under pressure with growing debt, longer waiting lists and rationing of services," Mr Peters said during the first reading debate on his Bill.
"There is no doubt health costs will escalate with a growing and ageing population."
National opposed the Bill.
"It's another example of Mr Peters and New Zealand First being anti-immigrant," said David Bennett.
"This is another anti-immigration Bill put forward by that party, it is a disgrace to this Parliament to see that party in this house."
Labour said the rebate for pensioners was worth considering, so it would support the Bill on its first reading.
The Greens opposed it.
"We are all migrants in this country and this Bill, by imposing a high financial penalty on migrants, is not something we can support," said Eugenie Sage.
The Bill was defeated 75-46 today.
National, the Greens, ACT and United Future opposed it. NZ First, Labour and the Maori Party supported it.