Shane Jones making no apology to Indian community for 'racist' comments - says anxious Kiwis want national population policy

David White/Stuff
People gathered at Auckland's Aotea Square on November 4 to protest MP Shane Jones' comments on arranged marriages.

New Zealand First MP Shane Jones is making no apology for his "racist" comments aimed at the Indian community and wants to see a tougher crackdown on immigration with a national population policy.

He told Stuff on Tuesday he was speaking on behalf of "battalions" of "ordinary Kiwis who were highly anxious" about population growth putting stress on state services and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is refusing to let the Government take responsibility for the remarks and says the visa decision that ignited the controversy would be "sorted out" this week.

NZ First MP Shane Jones said he will be advocating with his caucus colleagues that New Zealand needs a population policy.
HAMISH MCNEILLY/STUFF
NZ First MP Shane Jones said he will be advocating with his caucus colleagues that New Zealand needs a population policy.

It follows Jones' comments on changes to immigration policy that could impact Indians who have arranged marriages, where he told the activists to tame down their rhetoric because they had no legitimate expectations.

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"In my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home – catch the next flight home," Jones told RNZ.

At the weekend, protesters call out Shane Jones on his "racist" comments regarding arranged marriages.
DAVID WHITE/STUFF
At the weekend, protesters call out Shane Jones on his "racist" comments regarding arranged marriages.

He later told Newshub the backlash was a "Bollywood overreaction."

The Migrant Workers Association and Love Aotearoa Hate Racism held a rally calling for Jones to make a public apology and his resignation

Anu Kaloti from the Association said Jones was using the same racist dog whistle as United States President Donald Trump.

"It is open blatant racism, there is no denying that," she said on Sunday.

Jones told Stuff on Tuesday he had been surprised  by the aggression of the activists.

The people demanding his head on a platter were "catastrophising" the situation and overreacting, he said.

"I think they fail to realise there is a very fertile field where I stand, asking the hard question about what is the ultimate blend in terms of our migrant policy."

When asked if he would apologise for his comments, he said he had moved on from the remarks and it was just a verbalisation of the political world.

"I can introduce them to legions, battalions, of Kiwis who feel it is a contested space and in Shane Jones they have someone who gives voice to their anxieties."

"As a politician, if a bloke with my ancestry can't openly and penetratingly talk about these things, then I challenge you to find someone who could."

The people who "attacked" him for being a bigot or a racist failed to understand his lineage and that he was a son of the Treaty of Waitangi, he said.

"I have the blood that formed this nation running through my veins, so any suggestion that my voice should be stifled because of the Indian migrant activists taking offence ... they fail to understand that I'm giving voice to the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who are deeply anxious about whether we are doing the right thing with the mix of immigration policy we have at the moment and asking how big do we want the population to swell through immigration ."

He had discussed his remarks with his NZ First caucus on Tuesday and would further discuss the importance of reviving some immigration "assumptions" now that the population was almost capping five million.

"I am firmly of the view that we have reached the point in time to address this. I will be advocating with my caucus colleagues that New Zealand need a population policy."

He would likely wait under after the 2020 election to make his proposal but there was a party retreat in the coming weeks, where it might be brought up for discussion.

Earlier, Lees-Galloway said he had not spoken to Jones.

"I think Mr Jones knows my views on this situation."

"I have no ministerial responsibility for Shane Jones … [he] can take responsibility for his own comments."

The Government valued the contribution of the Indian community to New Zealand, which could be seen in its response to the visa issue, he said.

Labour took the visa upset seriously and it had been his priority to sort it out and there would be a result in the coming days, he said.

The intervention has come after mounting anger and frustration from the Kiwi-Indian community at recent policy changes with some even walking away from the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, National Party leader Simon Bridges called on Jones to reflect on his comments.

'What he said is entirely unacceptable is distasteful and wrong."

Bridges said there was no chance of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern showing leadership on it and doing anything about Shane Jones.

Stuff