Nation needs smart immigration, says Peters
Immigration policies and foreign property ownership came under fire as NZ First leader Winston Peters regaled an audience in Palmerston North.
About 85 people turned up to hear Peters yesterday as he pitched for their vote in the September national election, telling them the party would carry out a "long, hard campaign".
"It's been a very, very fascinating few weeks in politics," he commented.
Before turning his attention to the main topic of his speech, he repeated claims made in Parliament about proposals to ease citizenship restrictions for wealthy investors and reiterated criticism of Justice Minister Judith Collins over her visit to dairy company Oravida's offices in Shanghai. He then turned his attention to foreign ownership of shares and property, which he labelled "disastrous".
Foreign ownership of shares on New Zealand's stock exchange amounted to 72 per cent.
"How can a country grow wealthy if ownership is offshore?" he asked.
He pointed to the housing crisis in Auckland, which he said was to blame for rising interest rates.
"Why is some poor person in Kaitaia, or Invercargill, or Palmerston North paying interest rate hikes all around the country, for housing prices in Auckland fuelled by foreign buying?"
When NZ First originally sounded the alarm years ago, other parties accused it of being racist and xenophobic, he said.
"We took all that crap from them and all of a sudden now they're saying: Oh, maybe they're right.
"Well, of course we're right on this issue. We are not anti-immigrant.
"This country will always need good immigrants to build in science and education and a whole lot of areas, but the immigrant we want is the one that we need, not the one that needs us."
He claimed the population was also ageing artificially because the country was bringing in too many elderly people, which was contrary to "smart immigration policy".