Bill English describes some Kiwis looking for work as 'pretty damned hopeless'
Finance Minister Bill English is not backing down from his comments that some Kiwis hunting for work are "pretty damned hopeless" and "can't read and write properly".
At a Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding last week English said there was a "cohort of Kiwis now" who couldn't get a licence because they were illiterate and "don't look to be employable".
His comments were directed at "young males" who didn't turn up to work or didn't stay on when offered a job.
Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway was at that meeting and says the deputy prime minister's comments were a "disgrace".
In Question Time on Wednesday Lees-Galloway asked English whether he stood by another statement from that meeting - that one of the reasons why immigration is "a bit more permissive" is because Kiwis are "pretty damned hopeless".
English says those comments were supported by what the Government heard from dozens of New Zealand employers.
"...many of the people on our MInistry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered".
He said that was a "realistic description of the problems we are dealing with" and if Lees-Galloway couldn't handle that, then "he is out of touch".
Lees-Galloway said the comments show "the Government has given up on our young people and have no faith in their own education system".
"It's the Government that's damned hopeless. Bill English himself passed that judgement when he claimed that after eight years of National Government the education system is turning out people who can't read or write properly," he said.