Shearer's dog whistle

Last updated 16:11 18/10/2012

David Shearer seemed to be whistling up his mutt this morning, promising to find way to give Kiwis ''first crack'' at jobs in the Christchurch rebuild before bringing in overseas workers.

Green co-leader Russel Norman's Australian ear didn't pick it up, and said it was an issue worth looking at because there was an argument that the number of New Zealanders employed in the rebuild should be maximised.

The Council of Trade Unions secretary, Peter Conway, seemed happy too, saying a more thorough labour market test before an employer can engage migrants instead of Kiwi workers was sensible.

"The CTU believes every effort should be made to place Kiwis in jobs before migrants are employed. But once migrant workers are here, they must be treated fairly. There is increasing concern that the combined effect of low wages, lack of investment in training and loss of workers to Australia is increasing employer demand for migrant workers and putting further downward pressure on wages."

I have to say when I read the speech I expected to hear swift cries from the usual suspects that Shearer was indulging in ''dog-whistle'' politics to the anti-immigrant lobby.

But so far silence.

Would Winston Peters be so lucky?

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