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Gayaal for Wellington Central

Closing statement: Gayaal for Wellington Central

G4Wgtn doorknocking

Gayaal Iddamalgoda, Wellington Central candidate for the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign, says that a vote for him will send a pro-migrant signal to the major parties.

“I’m standing to oppose the use of migrants as a political football, and to say that what’s good for migrant workers is good for all New Zealand workers,” says Gayaal.

“Internationally, both the left and the right have pitted the ‘white working class’ and migrant labour against each-other. We totally refuse this racist divide-and-rule strategy.

“Migrants must be welcomed into the country, and into the trade union movement, to combine with other workers and fight for better conditions.

“Too much of the broad left approaches migrant exploitation backwards. To address exploitation you must go after the exploiters, not the exploited.

“Clearly migrants do not want to be underpaid, but the threat of deportation makes it easier for employers to brutally exploit them. Exclusion and exploitation reinforce eachother.

“With greater freedom to move and associate, migrants and locals would be enabled to challenge this super-exploitation.”

Gayaal says that a vote for him will send a signal to the major parties, that migrants will not be taken for granted and Wellingtonians will not tolerate xenophobia.G4Wgtn doorknocking

Events, National Party, New Zealand First

National Party and New Zealand First no-shows at migrant and refugee rights forum

MARRC forum

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.

Anti-Fascism, USA

Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign stands with Charlottesville anti-fascists

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The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign stands in solidarity with those who opposed fascism in Charlottesville USA, and those grieving Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed.

“The killing in Charlottesville is appalling,” says Gayaal Iddamalgoda, spokesperson for the campaign. “We stand with those fighting fascism, in the USA and elsewhere.”

“Thankfully, the Neo-Nazi movement in New Zealand is marginal. However, we must be on guard in an international situation where racist populism is surging.”

“Xenophobic scapegoating has an unfortunate foothold in New Zealand electoral politics, and we oppose all attempts to blame social minorities for political and economic problems. Mainstream racism plants the seeds that fascism grows from, as we are seeing in the UK and USA.”

Housing crisis, National Party

Racist obfuscation of the slumlord problem

slumlords

Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith’s comment about Indians owning multiple properties is a racist obfuscation of the slumlord problem, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda. Goldsmith made the comment in response to 25-year old Thomas Maharaj, who correctly pointed out that many National MPs own multiple properties.

“Goldsmith’s comment is not only racist, it also evades the real issues driving the housing crisis,” says Gayaal.

“According to information released in late 2016, 80 of our 121 MPs have an interest in more than one property,” Gayaal continues. “The three MPs who own the most property are in the National Party, and 2 out of 3 are European-descended, yet no MP stereotypes Europeans as the cause of the housing crisis.”

“Young students like Maharaj aren’t likely to own property – in fact Goldsmith is a much likelier face of the slumlord problem in this country, as a European-descended National Party MP in his 40s.”

“This continues an alarming trend where the causes of the housing crisis are racialised, whether by blaming Chinese or Indian buyers.”

“If we’re serious about addressing the problem, we need to understand it’s a problem caused by slumlords and other profiteers – regardless of their surnames or the colour of their skin.”

ACT Party, Pasifika, Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

ACT immigration policy shows racist double-standards

gayaal 1

ACT’s policy of free movement/trade between Anglosphere countries – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – shows a racist double standard, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“ACT claims to be the most consistently pro-migrant party, yet this policy lays bare that they will not address the actual barriers to free movement in our world today,” says Gayaal. “Migrants from the Anglosphere already experience far fewer barriers than those from the Global South.”

“Instead of pursuing regional partnership with our Pacific neighbours, ACT seeks to cement partnership of the rich nations against poor nations.”

“The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme already discriminates against our Pacific neighbours, by holding the threat of deportation over workers, and allowing employers to control employees’ living situations, a power inequality which has opened the door to abuse,” adds Gayaal. “ACT’s proposed policy will not address these actual barriers for migrant workers, allowing the abuse of Pasi workers to continue.”

“Migration policy is one area where racist double-standards persist. ACT also wants to introduce a ‘values test’, an assimilationist policy borrowed from other Anglosphere countries. Actually, we must question our own values, not the values of people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”

“The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign supports open borders to the Pacific, as a step towards a world with free movement for all workers.”

“Aotearoa/New Zealand must act as a Pacific nation, not a colonial vassal.”

ACT’s immigration policy also seeks to trim “overly generous entitlements” like pensions for those with only ten years’ residency, a policy which MARRC considers an unacceptable encroachment on NZ’s only remaining universal welfare entitlement.

Labour Party

Labour MP Chris Hipkins publicly disagrees with Labour immigration policy

chipkins

At a public meeting held in Rimutaka’s Walter Nash Stadium, Labour MP Chris Hipkins publicly disagreed with Labour’s policy of cutting international student visas, when asked by a member of the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign. Chris Hipkins is the first Labour MP to publicly disagree with the policy.

“We congratulate Hipkins on taking this stance,” says campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“The more people who stand up against racist policies the better,” continues Gayaal. “That’s how we can create positive change.”

At the same meeting, ACT candidate Grae O’Sullivan disagreed with MARRC’s policy of a Living Wage for migrant workers, while Green candidate Stefan Grand-Meyer endorsed the policy.

The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign will be holding a Wellington Central candidates forum on Saturday the 26th of August, 6pm at 19 Tory St.

Labour Party

Labour leadership crisis shows failure of vision

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May Day rally for Migrant/Refugee Rights (photograph by Aaron O’Neill).

Andrew Little’s late resignation from the Labour Party leadership shows a failure of political vision, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“Labour has attempted to drum up support through populist scapegoating,” says Gayaal, “But this tactic has not paid off in the polls.”

“The reality is that Winston Peters has monopolised the anti-migrant vote, nobody does it better than him.”

Gayaal highlights the results of an Ipsos poll which shows that a significant minority (over 40%) accurately view migrants as a net economic benefit. “Left parties should seek to represent New Zealanders who want genuine social-economic change, rather than lazy scapegoating.”

“Blaming migrants is both unprincipled and ineffectual.”

“We must tackle the real challenges including lack of investment in public infrastructure and rank profiteering. Anti-migrant scapegoating distracts from these issues.”