Barry Soper: Andrew Little's cringeworthy immigration cap

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Andrew Little said he'd put a cap on immigration if in Government, and singled out migrant chefs. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Andrew Little said he'd put a cap on immigration if in Government, and singled out migrant chefs. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He stood comfortably enough, legs apart with feet firmly planted on Parliament's red carpet and proceeded to put his foot in his mouth, although he seemed to be unaware of it.

It's the sort of stuff that used to be successfully churned out by Winston Peters, earning uproarious applause from those with red necks.

It's hard to know what's come over Andrew Little this week but something certainly has. A couple of days ago he was leaving us in no doubt about what he'd do about banks sitting on their stacks of cash, refusing to take the Official Cash Rate lead from the Reserve Bank Guv and lowering their mortgage rates.

He'd pass a law forcing them to cut the rate as the Guv had done, although he didn't say whether that same law would force them to raise it when the central banker did the same with the OCR.

But it's the Peters' populist politics that's intriguing.

Little's now banging on about immigration, saying the tap should be turned down to a trickle until economic conditions improve. If he was sitting behind John Key's ninth floor Beehive desk he says he'd put an immediate cap on immigration.

Ethnic restaurants should be hiring Kiwi Indian and Chinese chefs rather than bringing them in from overseas. And the Labour leader, who's recently positioned himself and his reluctant caucus on the opposing side of the Trans Pacific Partnership argument, used the free trade agreement with China to reinforce his point. The agreement Labour negotiated allows Chinese chefs to work in this country and those of us who enjoy good Yum Cha would say thank goodness for that.

Little says he singled out chefs because it's just one example of semi skilled migrants taking jobs that could be filled by Kiwis which doesn't bode well for his next meal out if that's the view he has of chefs.

In case he hadn't noticed, unemployment fell against all expectations in the final three months of last year.

But the outpouring of angst from Little was ammunition for the joker from the ninth floor. A smile as wide as Jack Nicholson's in Batman creased John Key's face as he contemplated the latest outpouring from Labour.

Key joyously professed to not knowing where he's coming up with this stuff.

One moment they come out against people with Chinese sounding names buying houses and now they don't want people with the same sounding names making chicken chop suey, he crowed and we all cringed.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Newstalk ZB

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