Patrick Gower: Andrew Little's big call to cut 50,000 immigrants

OPINION: Andrew Little has made a big call promising a big cut of up to 50,000 immigrants.

In my opinion, it is actually the biggest call he has made as Labour leader, and potentially the biggest call of the election so far.

"We cannot carry on having 70,000 people coming in. [It's] third year in a row now we've got record levels of migration," Little says.

Labour has decided to go all in on immigration.

"We have typically had inward migration, net migration of 20 to 25,000 - you want to target that sort of level," Little says.

Little really turned it up on Thursday talking up how immigrants are taking jobs, raising house prices, causing traffic, putting the squeeze on schools and pressure on infrastructure in Auckland.

"We're just shoving more and more people in," he says. "Auckland cannot cope anymore."

And he got even more specific on Labour's target.

With inward or net migration currently at 71,333 a year:

  • To reach Labour's target of 25,000 - would mean a cut of more than 46,000
  • And to reach its lower target of 20,000 - would mean a cut of 51,333 immigrants.

Cut, cut, cut it's clearly a calculated, deliberate and repeated political move aimed at voters.

It could work and bring new voters to Labour.

Or it could flop, with Little running the risk of alienating Labour's core liberal voters who don't like anti-immigration stances.

It certainly puts a clear line between Labour and National, with National clearly pro-immigration.

It's a totally different approach to the Government's immigration changes announced on Wednesday that it admits are just tweaks.

"If you're the opposition, you are always vote hunting," says Prime Minister Bill English. "[Labour seems] to have trouble picking where they're going to hunt."

It's actually much more like a move by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week.

"We've got to give locals a chance first, before we bring people in from overseas," Little says.

"We are going to go after the work visas."

Little is going after immigrants and voters too.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's political editor.