UN Global Migration Compact: Winston Peters attacks National's 'principles'

Winston Peters has defended the Government signing the United Nations Global Migration Compact and attacked National for opposing it.

Peters, the Foreign Minister, lashed out at the National Party on Tuesday for wanting out of the pact, accusing the Opposition of following in the footsteps of far-right Austrian groups.

"We didn't put up with this campaign that was mounted by a bunch of Nazis in Austria to try and persuade us otherwise," Peters told Magic Talk. 

He was referring to the Austrian government saying last year it wouldn't sign the pact because it feared it would lead to "a human right to migration" - a claim which the United Nations has dismissed.

"The National Party took up that view and tried to run it very hard until we had the Christchurch disaster, and they pulled it down. Let's be clear who has principles here and who hasn't," Peters said.

The international agreement's aim is to coordinate migration policy worldwide, but it's non-binding and has no effect in law. The Government signed New Zealand up in December, along with 164 other countries.

Austria, along with the United States, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Chile and Australia refused to adopt the pact, despite it protecting every state's right to determine its own immigration policies.

The National Party's opposition to the pact would come back to haunt its leader after the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. In the hours that followed, a petition against the pact was removed from the party's website.

Simon Bridges initially said the petition had been removed from the website weeks earlier, then when shown it was still live on the afternoon of the attack, claimed it had been removed hastily by an "emotional junior staffer".

Peters, the Deputy Prime Minister, criticised National's stance on the pact that it could restrict New Zealand's ability to set its own migration and foreign policy.

He said the pact was about the "degradation of women and young children and the slavery of people being moved around the world, mainly by men, and abused - that's what it's about".

Peters told Magic Talk: "It's nothing to do with immigration or changing our settings or our sovereign right - and that is the view of the Scandinavian countries; that is the view of the UK, and New Zealand as well."

Peters had recently returned from a visit to Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland where he laid a wreath at the Norwegian Memorial for the 2011 terrorist attack.

UN Global Migration Compact: Winston Peters attacks National's 'principles'
Photo credit: Facebook / Winston Peters

Peters said while there was "much we can learn from these countries", he noted how Nordic countries like Sweden have seen a backlash against immigration.

The country has opened its doors to refugees, but far-right populist parties such as the Sweden Democrats "based on nationalism", have been gaining popularity, challenging the nation's reputation for tolerance.

Peters suggested New Zealand could be heading down a similar path, ever since the neoliberal economic policies of Sir Roger Douglas known as 'Rogernomics' in the 1980s glorified "consumerism".

"We got this new brand in the 80s, 'Rogernomics', where we didn't give a rats about who we brought here because it was all based on consumerism and somehow just having mouths to feed would make us wealthy."

Peters has historically blasted the "failed economic experiment" of the neoliberal policies adopted by New Zealand politicians in the 1980s.

The New Zealand First leader said the decision to form a coalition government with Labour was based on his party's desire to regain "capitalism with a human face".