NZ MP labels One Nation senators comments ‘absolutely nuts’

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts says New Zealand has a ‘hostile attitude’ towards Israel. (Photo: Andrew Meares)

Amy Remeikis

A New Zealand politician has labelled Senator Malcolm Roberts’s call for sanctions against New Zealanders in Australia “absolutely nuts”, passing it off as using “the politics of hate and division for self-promotion”.

Opposition MP Kelvin Davis, who has used his position as Labour’s Corrections spokesman to fight against the Turnbull government’s changes to immigration policy, which sees long-term visa holders deported if they are sentenced to one or more years in prison, said Senator Roberts’s call to put sanctions on New Zealanders living in Australia was “just crazy”.

During his weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a stinging reprimand of the anti-settlement vote at UN Security Council.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Senator Roberts lashed out against New Zealand’s decision to co-sponsor a United Nations Security Council resolution censuring Israel and calling for an immediate end to any settlement activities in disputed zones, saying it was a betrayal of a close ANZAC ally and akin to “stabbing [Israel] in the front”.

“At the very least, we should look at further cutting benefits for New Zealanders living in Australia,” he said.

“Perhaps a tougher immigration policy aimed towards New Zealand would stop Kiwis from establishing settlements in Australia.”

His comments created a stir across the ditch, with Senator Roberts defending them on New Zealand radio as a warning to the Australian government to put more pressure on the Bill English government.

“The real message in this is to our federal government in Canberra – you need to work more closely with the Kiwi Government to prevent them doing this kind of thing that undermines Israel’s existence,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“What we’re saying there we need to look at any sort of alternatives that will put pressure on the New Zealand government so the New Zealand government doesn’t do this kind of thing in the future.”

Listening to the interview was Mr Davis, who did not hold back in his response when it came to his time to talk.

“I read his press release yesterday and I suspected the guy was a bit simple and listening to that interview then, I think that has confirmed it,” he said.

“He’s a climate-change conspiracies’ theorist; he’s a racist and probably the saddest thing about his entry into Australia politics, spending so much time in Canberra, is he has denied a village somewhere in Australia of its idiot.

“What he is saying is absolutely nuts.

“We shouldn’t be surprised at One Nation’s low-IQ politics, which is basically to create an enemy – in this case it is New Zealanders – persecute that enemy and use the politics of hate and division for self-promotion. That is all they are really doing.

“New Zealand at the UN stood up for what they believed; One Nation stands for hate and division. What he is saying is just crazy.”

New Zealand’s role in co-sponsoring the resolution has set off a ripple effect, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop indicating in her own statement last week that Australia would not have supported the move, if it had a seat on the Security Council. Israel has blamed the United States, which abstained from the vote, for orchestrating the resolution, a claim it has denied. The electoral office of New Zealand’s foreign minister was vandalised following the vote, with graffiti accusing Murray McCully of being a “traitor” and anti-Semite.

Senator Roberts said his own comments in defence of Israel came as he believed the resolution “undermined peace” and a message needed to be sent, but could not explain why he referred to New Zealand “settlements” in Australia.

Under the Howard government, New Zealanders lost access to most housing and unemployment benefits, but arrangements to allow for largely free movement between the two allies have been in place since the 1920s.

Mr Davis said his countrymen and women contributed to Australian society “like any immigrant”, by working and paying taxes, like Senator Roberts “and his ancestors”.

“I really don’t know what the guy is going on about, but I suspect it is just a platform for himself,” he said.

“The politics of hate and persecution and creating an enemy – it is classic Australian politics.”

New Zealand’s foreign minister has been approached for comment.

One Nation had previously promised to lobby to make it easier for New Zealanders to access citizenship and government services, after a set waiting period.

This would restore Russell Crowe’s eligibility for Australian citizenship,” the party policy states.

“If Russell Crowe is good enough to be put on our Australian stamp as an Australian legend, then why deny him the right to become an Australian citizen if he so wishes.”

[Read the Age article].

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