'Bollywood overreaction' remark prompts further calls for Shane Jones' resignation

Shane Jones has prompted further calls for him to resign after firing up the Indian community again, labelling their concerns over his comments about partnership visas as "Bollywood overreaction".

The Indian community in New Zealand has been rallying against a change in policy at Immigration NZ that's made it near impossible for some migrants in arranged marriages to get visas for their spouses.

It got ugly when Shane Jones piped up, saying last month: "If you don't like it and you're threatening to go home, catch the next flight home."

That sparked calls last week for his resignation.

"I think they need to detoxify their rhetoric," Jones, a New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister, said on Tuesday.

But Jones has no problem with his own rhetoric, insisting his language was "absolutely not" racist.

Raman Singh, who moved to New Zealand as a child, says he thinks Jones' language is racist, and fears it's "something that I feel is going to influence hate crime".

Singh went through the school system in New Zealand, went to university, and has a good job working in IT. In January this year, he travelled to India to marry his wife in a culturally arranged marriage.

The pair had met last year, got engaged and wed in a ceremony with family and friends travelling from across the globe. 

"Some people have this perception about Indian weddings where it’s like a forced wedding - it’s not like that.

"Me and my partner we accepted each other we both found each other extremely attractive and we felt that spark - therefore we decided to get engaged."

He stayed for three months after the wedding before moving back to New Zealand, and he hasn't seen his wife since, because Immigration NZ denied her a visa to join him.

"She’s very emotional, her dreams are broken, my dreams are broken," Singh said.

"It was the toughest time for us. And obviously being away from each other, so far apart, it was horrible. I couldn't think clearly, I didn't want to go to work, I didn't even want to get out of bed in the morning."

Jones is pushing back against claims he’s being insensitive, saying he won't be told what to do by a migrant.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been forced to rap Jones over the knuckles time and time again.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been forced to rap Jones over the knuckles time and time again. Photo credit: Newshub.

"I'm not going to have any migrant tell me as a mokopuna of Tai Tokerau when my people have been here a thousand years… I'm not going to have an activist tell me that I'm racist - ever."

Some in the Indian community told Newshub last week they were scared of what Jones' words could do.

"The last thing we want to see is what happened in Christchurch," Mandeep Singh Bela, Indian Workers Association spokesperson, said on Friday. 

Jones responded: "I just think that's a Bollywood overreaction."

Bela likened Jones to US President Donald Trump. 

This is absolutely appalling and disgusting coming from a senior member of Parliament, Bela told Newshub. 

"He is coming across as Donald Trump of New Zealand. Migrants of all backgrounds not only Indians have contributed a lot to New Zealand and call New Zealand home. Such comments from a senior politician only divide the community."

There is no way Jones will back down. He says the Indian community should "never have started this row with New Zealand First... I fight fire with fire".

And there is no way Labour will call Jones out. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he has "no ministerial responsibility for Shane Jones".

"I think Mr Jones knows my views on the situation," he said on Tuesday, after last week saying Jones' comments were "not ones that I agree with".

Jones said he belongs to New Zealand First and is "entitled" as a Maori to "talk about these things".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been forced to rap Jones over the knuckles time and time again.

This time she's taking a different approach: completely distancing herself because immigration has the potential to be a powder keg for this Government.


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