Nicola Willis of the National Party and Andy Foster of New Zealand first both snubbed a migrant and refugee rights forum having previously indicated that they would attend. The forum held at 19 Tory St on Saturday the 26th of August featured speakers Iain Lees Galloway (Labour Party), Teall Crossen (Green Party), Jessica Hammond Doube (The Opportunities Party) and Gayaal Iddamalgoda (Migrant & Refugee Rights Campaign), emceed by Murdoch Stephens of the Doing Our Bit – Double the Quota campaign. Around 80 people attended.
“We received a last-minute email apology from Nicola Willis of National, and no apology at all from Andy Foster of New Zealand First,” says Gayaal.
“We can understand that candidates have busy schedules. However, candidates from the Green Party and the Labour Party who were unavailable sent other representatives. The fact that the ruling party could not send a single representative does not send a positive message.”
“New Zealand First has a particularly bad record of xenophobic scapegoating. This no-show, with no apologies, from a speaker who had indicated he would attend, shows a continuing lack of willingness to take migrant and refugee concerns seriously.”
The event also saw debate over Labour’s immigration policy, with Gayaal criticising proposed immigration cuts as unacceptable scapegoating.