Australians with most of our Upper Houses being elected via proportional representation have become used to single issue parties gaining representation such as the Nuclear Disarmament Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party, the Animal Justice Party and most notably the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party.
However, in New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportionate System a party must obtain 5% of the popular vote to gain representation in the national parliament. So, there is not the opportunity like there is in Australia for preference deals to be done under group voting tickets which assists such single-issue parties being elected.
But New Zealand still has their fair share of single issue parties contesting this election such as Internet Party, the Cannabis Party and the Outdoors Party. Although there is one single issue party whose emergence given the current problems western nations are facing is particularly disturbing. That is the New Zealand People’s Party, this name is very misleading as it is a party not about the New Zealand people but only looking after one class of people in New Zealand, that is immigrants.
It was formed in 2015 with its inaugural leader Indian-New Zealand businessman Roshan Nauhria who proclaimed he wanted more Indians and Asians in New Zealand’s parliament “The population of our people is 13 percent. We just feel that we are not fully represented in the Parliament and other aspects of the country”. Despite what some Australians might assume the multicultural mix of New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland is on par with Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Mauhria promised that “Once we get close to the election we’ll announce policies which will appeal to everybody”. However, that has not eventuated. The party’s most detailed policy is still related to immigration. It wants visas easily granted to the families of New Zealand permanent residents and new citizens with the option of staying in New Zealand permanently. It also wants greater protections in place for international students to study and work in New Zealand and allow more visitors visas to be sponsored.
Although not mentioned in the actual immigration policy the party’s constitution calls for immigration rules to be amended to allow “refugees to settle sooner into a comfortable life in their chosen home of Aotearoa New Zealand with their family”.
If a party has as part of its platform a policy of open immigration that is one thing, but to have a party solely focused on immigrants, many of whom are not even New Zealand citizens should be seen as particularly insulting to the local population. At least parties that favour open immigration such as the New Zealand Greens and the ACT Party still have their major focus on New Zealanders.
The New Zealand People’s Party does have two other major policy areas. It has a law and order policy which is designed to appear tough on crime with extra police resources however that it includes a crackdown on law abiding firearm owners. The party also wants criminal sentencing to shift from punitive measures to rehabilitation with its justification being New Zealand’s high prison population which is 155 per 100,000 of the total population.
It’s other major policy is about housing affordability which is particularly a problem in the city of Auckland. However their policies display a great deal of economic illiteracy with their solution to offer New Zealanders five year interest free first home deposit loans. There is nothing in the policy addressing the economic factors of supply and demand.
These other two policy areas can also be linked back to their immigration policy as a way to placate the concerns of local New Zealanders who worry about the effect immigration has on crime rates and housing affordability in the major cities.
It probably doesn’t help the image of the party to the broader New Zealand population that their policies are also listed in Chinese and their campaign rallies feature placards written in both English and Chinese.
Nevertheless, a majority of New Zealanders believe the current immigration rate is too high, they want new migrants to assimilate into the New Zealand way of life quickly and also want stricter controls on foreign investment. To put things into perspective many Australians believe our current immigration rate at 7.5% per 1000 people a year is too high, New Zealand’s is 14.7 per 1000 people a year.
It is near impossible that the People’s Party would gain enough of the party vote at this year’s election to win seats in parliament. However, if the current high immigration rates continue in future elections this party might become more prominent. The fact that it has even been established should already be sounding alarm bells for those who believe New Zealand parties should be putting their citizens and their wishes first. Australia has had a taste of this as well with the creation of a Muslim Party.
Furthermore the establishment of the People’s Party is a direct rejection by this group of immigrants of the expectations of local citizens that the onus is on immigrants to integrate and that a strict immigration process is designed to make sure it is a system that is designed to benefit New Zealanders. New Zealanders certainly deserves better at this upcoming election than what is on offer from the People’s Party.