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Taking a breather on immigration - Labour, Bryce Edwards and the Māori Party react

Labour have announced their first major election policy in a strong stance on immigration. 

The new policy will attempt to bring net migration to New Zealand down by between 20,000 and 30,000 per year, with students in low-level education courses the main target.

Labour leader Andrew Little said tightening up the rules around student work visas will form part of the policy, especially given that many students coming into New Zealand are using their study to simply obtain a work visa.

Little said 30,000 new people have arrived in the country in the last four years and that housing, transport, public services and infrastructure have not been able to cope.

He said immigration numbers have to be reduced now to take the pressure off in what the party labels taking a breather on immigration.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards said the policy “scratches all the right itches” and that immigration will be a big issue this election.

He said the move would appeal mostly to people in Auckland who care about housing, infrastructure and transport.

Edwards said it would be a “vote getter” but that Labour would have to face accusations of populist politics and race baiting from opponents.

The Māori Party have already lived up to this, having called the move by Labour a “despicable” approach which plays on “irrational fears”.

Co-leader Marama Fox said Labour’s focus on immigration was a red herring and that the issues of housing and congestion would not be helped by cutting New Zealand’s intake of immigrants.

“We should treat all people with respect and manaakitanga and this story is blowing up and those immigrants, particularly Asian and Indian immigrants, are feeling the backlash of the over-hyped situation that we have.”

For the full interview click here.

Mack Smith and Sam Smith, 95bFM News