Key: Don't fear immigration

  • 03/07/2016
Prime Minister John Key
Prime Minister John Key

New Zealanders don't need to be frightened by immigration the way people in some other countries are, Prime Minister John Key says.

"In the UK it was about not being able to control it," he said.

"In New Zealand we do control migration."

Mr Key was talking to reporters today after speaking at National's annual conference in Christchurch, and he was asked whether he thought Brexit and immigration problems in other EU countries could spill over at home.

He says arguments about immigration have been going on for years, with NZ First leader Winston Peters at the forefront.

"If you break it down, which bits would people really want to stop?"

"Certainly not returning Kiwis or Australians. Certainly not people on working holidays or in the skills category... our conditions are different; we keep a close watch on it."

Mr Key says not long ago the debate was about Kiwis leaving the country.

"It was about if you wanted to see your grandchildren you should go to the departure lounge," he said.

"Eight years ago we were fretting about people leaving.

"I think the challenges we have at the moment are a far better set of circumstances."

Mr Peters reacted by saying Mr Key was using Kiwis returning from Australia as "an excuse".

"Thousands more are still going to Australia than returning," he said.

"The biggest driver of record immigration has been a mass influx of people coming in, many on work visas and many low skilled... consumerism from mass immigration is the biggest driver of our economy."