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Critics demonstrate ‘heartless arrogance’

Winston Peters – 

The latest figures from the Restaurant Association of New Zealand show that there were 7441 cafes and restaurants in the country as at the end of 2014.

Over the last six years, a population the size of Queenstown, or 9966 chefs from 88 countries came to work in New Zealand. That is more than one chef for every café and restaurant in the whole of the country.

And it is not as though New Zealand is the cultural culinary capital of the world.

Those who seek to defend fraudulent immigration practice in New Zealand are totally out of touch with the facts and reality, and worse, they have a sneering contempt for basic human rights.

Astonishing numbers

Some might prefer their own bias when it comes to the facts but New Zealand First believes what our Indian and Chinese informants tell us.

They are astonished that we would need that many chefs from that many countries.

They say that there is widespread misuse of the immigration rules by a number of restaurants.

They say many restaurants are bringing in people from their own countries, abusing

them, underpaying them, overworking them and charging them for the privilege of coming to New Zealand.

One of our informants knows of a restaurant that operates like this, ‘they apply for a chef from overseas, only from India, and arrange for $20,000 or more to be paid to the directors for the job in New Zealand.’

These poor chefs who get the jobs are paid their wages into their bank accounts but have to take half of that money and pay it back to the directors. They get fed in the restaurant. They do not pay any fringe benefit tax on employee’s food.

Scared workers

After a year, these cooks apply for permanent residency and the whole thing starts again for that restaurant and its directors.

We are referring this case, one of many, to the police.

Journalists, in the New Zealand Herald did the flimsiest investigation. What questions did they put to them and which worker, scared for their future, would have spoken to them or admitted the truth?

What do these critics have to say about the conviction of the ‘Masala’ Restaurants family who were sentenced on immigration and worker exploitation charges after some staff reported being paid as little as $2.64 an hour?

The family had amassed 33 properties, and held deposit boxes of cash.

That was not a standalone case, but this behaviour largely goes unreported.

National has run down the Labour Inspectorate and there is lack of monitoring of workers’ visa conditions to ensure they are not being exploited.

At the same time, New Zealand maintains only the minimum standards for protecting trafficking victims.

Highly contemptible

The US is on record as saying we have few convictions because we have only weak trafficking laws.

National has set up the opportunity for some employers to freely bring in workers, and exploit them, as record immigration numbers overwhelm our border controls.

These employers are importing Third World practices to a First World country, and anyone who excuses that is contemptible.

The critics and the government demonstrate a heartless arrogance, a form of inverse racism, and don’t really give a damn about people from other countries as long as they can get a different culinary experience every night of the week.

Winston Peters is Leader of NZ First Party and elected Member of Parliament from Northland. He issued the above statement amidst criticisms over his earlier remarks accusing corrupt practices of some employers in recruiting foreign workers.

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