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John Key blasts Labour on immigration

Last updated 12:40 27/05/2014
John Key
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Prime Minister John Key says that under Labour's proposed immigration policy, he and his wife would not be in New Zealand.

Key's parents were from Austria and Britain and wife Bronagh's parents were Irish.

"Under David Cunliffe, I wouldn't be here and Bronagh wouldn't be here," Key said.

"Well, some people would rejoice about that, but there might be other people who don't."

He said Cunliffe was arguing to "turn off the tap" on migrants, but it was not possible to do that. Some people, such as Australians, had the right to come here.

"It would be a very knee-jerk reaction to go out there and all of a sudden say we are going to completely stop migration," Key said.


However, Cunliffe has not argued to stop all immigration.

He has called for it to be more tightly controlled when it is running high, with the Treasury forecasting net flows into the country could top 40,000 this year.

He today refused to put a number on what he would consider a sustainable flow, but he has previously pointed to net flows of 5000 to 15,000 in the past and said that could rise to 20,000 when there were a lot of Kiwis returning.

Current immigration levels were "at the upper end of the spectrum", Cunliffe said today


Key has dismissed polls that suggest more than half of New Zealanders want restrictions on the number of migrants allowed into the country.

A 3News poll found 62.4 per cent wanted restrictions.

NZ First voters felt the strongest, with 84.3 per cent backing restrictions, against 67.8 per cent of Labour supporters, 58.2 per cent of Green Party voters and 59.3 per cent of National supporters.

A One News survey found 57 per cent backed limits to help control house prices.

Key said immigration figures were a "good-news story" and reflected a strengthening economy.

Migrants brought much-needed skills such as for the Christchurch rebuild and the Waterview tunnel project in Auckland.

He said immigration was already tightly controlled.

"It's actually quite difficult to get into New Zealand," he said.

There were cycles, and this was one where New Zealand was more attractive than other countries, he said.

He asked whether Cunliffe would tell South Auckland people from the Pacific or Australians that they were not welcome here.

Cunliffe said Labour had always stood for an open-migration policy, but that needed to be at moderate and sustainable levels that could ensure good housing supply, hospitals and schools.

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"It's possible to gradually and smoothly adjust the flows so that it's helping sustain our communities, add to economic growth, but not put too much pressure on our communities."

He said Key was "trying to play politics with a serious community issue".

- Stuff

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