Indian community calling for Shane Jones' resignation over 'racist' comments

The Indian community is calling for Shane Jones to resign over what they are calling "racist" comments from the minister about an arranged marriage visa.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is now signalling a major U-turn on that policy, but doesn't think the policy is racist.

Immigration New Zealand recently adopted a tougher policy on the partnership visa category. To be eligible, couples must have lived together, making it hard for those with arranged marriages to bring their spouses to New Zealand.

Concerns grew in the Indian community when Jones, a New Zealand First MP and Cabinet minister, made remarks about them that have been deemed "racist".

"You have no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand, and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home, then catch the next flight home," Jones told RNZ last week. 

The Indian community now wants Jones to resign and for the Government to take action against the minister.

"We think he should resign, and in fact the Government should set an example that racism is not acceptable in New Zealand," Mandeep Singh Bela, coordinator of the Union Network of Migrants and the Indian Workers Association, told Newshub.

"They should definitely take action against him."

He said he's fearful the rhetoric could stoke hate crimes against the Indian community.

"To 'take the next flight home' is quite racist and discriminatory towards the Indian community. The last thing we want to see is what happened in Christchurch."

The Government isn't addressing Jones' comments but is addressing the policy. It's being reviewed; with a potential U-turn on the way.

"It was one that was correct in law but it has obviously left a lot of people worse-off," Lees-Galloway told Newshub.

But the Immigration Minister won't admit the policy is wrong, and doesn't think it's racist. He's also taking no responsibility, saying officials made the call without him.

"It was an operational decision made by Immigration New Zealand - it was not a decision of the elected Government."

The move could mean Labour is worried about losing the critical Indian vote - it's not only reviewing the policy but also pretending it had nothing to do with it.

But New Zealand First is also part of this Government, and Jones' comments have made it crystal clear where that party stands on the policy.