Andrew Little responds

The way comments made by me have been reported are baffling. Of more concern, however, is that they may have offended anyone. I would never want for anyone in this country to feel they are being somehow targeted. That's not what I stand for and it's not what Labour stands for either. 

I was asked last week by the Hutt News when I visited Lower Hutt about apparent concerns locals had with immigrant chefs. As I recall, I pointed out the China FTA specifically allows Chinese chefs to be recruited for Chinese restaurants and there was a case for other ethnic chefs to be recruited on the same basis.

I said at some point I would expect with larger ethnic communities that chefs would be able to be recruited within New Zealand. I said there was an issue with semi-skilled people being recruited under skills shortages categories but I doubt whether this related to chefs.

I was asked about Labour’s policy on immigration generally. I said our approach was that as the economy slows there is a case to “turn the tap down”. I also pointed out ours is a nation built on immigration and that people bringing skills here from all parts of the world is essential for us.

I was asked about the same issues today by other reporters. I again pointed out the right under the China FTA to have Chinese chefs recruited into New Zealand. I repeated my statement about the immigration tap being turned down as the economy slowed. I said how important immigration was to New Zealand.

So, to be clear, Labour’s policy on immigration hasn’t changed. We need to moderate our intake at times when we are struggling to find jobs and houses for newly arrived folks as well as locals.

I will always support a progressive immigration policy and welcome all people who want to make a future for themselves and their families to be part of our beautiful country.

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