i try hard to find redeeming qualities in peter brown, but today i'm really struggling. the nz first MP is in the news, bagging asian immigrants. nothing new there, merely stock in trade for nz first. i concede that he's having to do the dirty work because the rt hon winston peters is too busy being the foreign affairs ministers, so not able to trot out the usual lines in that role.
in the meantime, we have mr brown, who i met in person last year, when making my oral submission on the immigration bill. if you've missed exactly what his views are, feel free to listen to this checkpoint interview on radio nz (have to say that mary wilson does sound a little bemused). or if you prefer video, try this from tvnz.
mr brown's main concern appears to be around the projections of asian immigration, with the number of asians predicted to double in 20 years. this is a bad thing, because these new asians won't integrate, don't you know, and they'll bring all their nasty asian values and practices to this country.
mr brown is himself an immigrant. he's the good sort of course - the hard working sort, who has given a lot to this country and he says he has never taken a cent from the taxpayer. so, um, who exactly is paying your salary right now mr brown? and has been doing so for the last many years? yes, that's right, the taxpayer.
which includes me, mr brown, a "non-integrating" asian immigrant. you are getting from the taxpayer a salary that would be about ten times the benefit. and as far as i'm concerned, you're not even contributing as much as a beneficiary. at the very least, i expect you to show some gratitude to me and to all the other hard-working asian immigrants who are footing the bill for your salary.
one of the major concerns mr brown has with asian immigrants is that, with double the numbers, they'll set up little enclaves within the country. but what's to stop immigrants from say greece, france, germany, holland or any other non-english speaking european country from doing the same. it is a natural human tendency, after all, to seek out people who are similar to you, who share a language, food, dress, cultural traditions and a collective history. europeans are not exempt from this tendency, but mr brown expresses no concerns about european migrants.
and don't tell me their culture is the same or very similar to nz culture. each country in europe is distinctly different from its neighbour, how could they be said to be similar to nz?
further, i'm concerned at mr brown's lack of ability to integrate into nz society. we kiwi's are a friendly lot who give everyone a fair go. we are unique in the way we've dealt with historic grievances of tangata whenua, eg by setting up the waitangi tribunal and by funding maori tv and iwi radio. we pride ourselves on being an inclusive society, and while we have a long way to go in that regard, we certainly are doing better than many other countries around the world. mr brown has failed to take on this aspect of kiwi culture, so i would say he has failed to integrate. what policies is he going to put in place to ensure no-one like him gets through our borders ever again?
in any case, successful integration is a two-way process. it requires both the host and the migrant to be open to each other. it means inviting migrants into your home, sharing with them, and vice versa. it means not discriminating against them when it comes to employment, housing, education and in fact every other aspect of life. it means not denigrating them publicly as a class of people. if you provide a hostile environment for migrants, which mr brown seems very keen to do, you make it almost impossible for them to integrate successfully. to then blame migrants for their lack of integration is more than dishonest, it's cruel.
when nz first started their tirade against asian immigration back in 1996, it had a massive impact on asians living in this country. i heard many first hand accounts of the escalated verbal abuse that resulted, of the open discrimination in terms of jobs. twelve years on, i hope that nz has matured to an extent that this kind of tirade from mr brown will no longer be tolerated. the proof will be in the poll results leading up to the election. if nz first results don't rise as a result of their usual rhetoric, then we'll know that something wonderful is happening in this country.