New Zealand 'could stall' if Winston Peters gets way on immigration

  • 27/09/2017

Immigration policy is likely to be a hot topic as coalition negotiations get underway.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' anti-immigration stance has a long history, with many across the political spectrum accusing him of racism.

Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley told The AM Show if Mr Peters gets his way, New Zealand could come to a standstill.

"We'd be stuffed ... look at some of the electorates, like Clutha-Southland - solidly National, but now very reliant on immigrant labour."

"If you look at the infrastructure that's required, there are whole industries - elderly care, hospitality, dairying, and of course seasonal employment - all of that requires immigrant labour."

Mr Spoonley said Mr Peters is unlikely to significantly soften his hardline stance.

"He's talked about 'economic treason of mass immigration'. He's taken a very tough line and he's been saying it for a long time, so he wouldn't want to back down too much."

However, Mr Spoonley said the details of New Zealand First's policy are yet to be known.

"I'm not sure exactly what his policy says. I had a good look last night. He said skilled migration down to 10,000. I don't know what that means. Does that mean net gain? Does it mean you can't bring family members? There are a whole lot of things that are very unclear in terms of that policy."

Winston Peters also wants to restrict the number of international students studying in New Zealand, which Mr Spoonley said brings in $4.4 billion each year.

"It's one of our biggest industries."

One of the reasons Winston Peters has given for slashing immigration is that he wants to ensure New Zealanders are at the front of the job queue.

"I think that equation is very simplistic, that somehow you're going to stop immigration and there's going to be unemployed New Zealanders who are going to fill those spaces - that ain't gonna happen anytime soon."