New Zealand Labour Party

Bill English: Kiwi men are “Pretty Damned Hopeless”

National’s Deputy Prime Minister has admitted his Government is producing a cohort of young Kiwi men who ‘cannot read and write’, ‘don’t look to be employable’ and are ‘pretty damned hopeless,’ says Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

“Bill English was addressing a Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding last Friday when he was asked to increase migrant worker numbers for dairy farms.

“His response was an indictment of National’s record on training and education after eight years in power.

“He said ‘A lot of the Kiwis that are meant to be available [for farm work] are pretty damned hopeless. They won’t show up. You can’t rely on them and that is one of the reasons why immigration’s a bit permissive, to fill that gap’.

“He said New Zealand has: ‘A cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a license because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable, you know basically young males.’

“Those comments are a disgrace from one of our most senior Ministers. It shows the Government has given up on our young people and have no faith in their own education system.

“Bill English is the Deputy Prime Minister. It’s his job to give young Kiwis hope, not dismiss them as hopeless.

“It’s the Government that’s damned hopeless. Bill English himself passed that judgement when he claimed that after eight years of National Government the education system is turning out people who can’t read or write properly.

“Labour is focussed on giving young New Zealanders hope and opportunities. That’s why our Future of Work project is so important. Unlike Bill English, we have no intention of writing off a whole generation of Kiwis,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.