Major ruction in Government over Shane Jones' 'racist' Indian remarks

A major ruction in the Government has broken out over racism after Green Party co-leader James Shaw labelled comments NZ First MP Shane Jones made about Indian students as "racist".

It follows an outburst from Jones over Indian students in tertiary institutions on Newshub Nation.

"Everyone comes here from New Delhi - I don't like that idea at all. The number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions," Jones said on Saturday.

Shaw had a blunt response to Jones' opinions.

"Yeah, I thought those comments were racist."

Shaw used a word Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been careful to avoid - racist. Instead, she labelled it "wrong"

"It's wrong, patently it's wrong. Whatever label you put on it, it was wrong.

"I believe his comments were not only wrong but bad for New Zealand."

But Jones won't apologise - in fact he's doubling down.

"There's not a racist bone in my being," he says.

"I'm not going to take any notice of people who come to New Zealand and have come through dodgy language schools. Far too many people have come on the conveyor belt."

It's just the latest in a series of cracks Jones has had at the Indian community, and it's finally getting to his Cabinet colleagues.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway says Jones' comments are indefensible.

"Those comments were indefensible, they were wrong. If you're in the Indian community, you probably would feel that they were racist."

Shaw says in an election year, it's incumbent on politicians across the spectrum to not use immigrants as "political footballs".

It's not the first time the Green Party and NZ First have fallen out over racism either. In 2017 former Green co-leader Metiria Turei took on Winston Peters.

"Some of the things that he says have been racist."

But Peters didn't feel any remorse.

"Do I forgive someone for calling me a racist? No I don't."

If you're feeling a creeping sense of déjà vu, you'd be right. That's because it's an election year, it's NZ First and immigration is their favourite political football.