Labour backs removal of Kiwi racist law

By Talaia Mika 03 April 2024, 8:00AM

The Labour Member of Parliament in New Zealand for Panmure-Ōtāhuhu, Jenny Salesa has revealed that they will support the bill to restore citizenship to Samoans, although it's still not enough to win.

Pacific Media Network reported that the Restoring Citizenship Removed by Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 is a private member's bill submitted by Green MP Teanau Tuiono, and is due to have its first reading, where MPs will vote on whether it should progress to the next stage.

“We're definitely supporting Teanau's bill to first reading," said the MP.

PMN reported that according to Mrs. Salesa, Tuiono has support from the opposition parties, Labour, Greens and Te Pāti Māori, which make up a total of 54 seats, but it's still not the majority.

“For this bill to go through to first reading, he needs at least one other party in government to support his bill. That’s either the ACT Party or New Zealand First, or ideally the National Party.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon asserted that the National party will not support the bill, disregarding advice from their Pacific supporters. 

Pacific Blues chair Christian Malietoa-Brown highlighted the complexity of reinstating citizenship, expressing concerns about its broad scope and potential impact on Samoa. 

“This is a very complicated issue because it also involves the Samoan government, so the bill as it stands right now is completely not workable for anybody because it's way too broad," he said.

“When your children can claim citizenship, and their children can claim citizenship, that's mass migration, that'll empty Samoa.”

However, Tuiono clarified that the bill aims to grant citizenship in specific cases, not facilitate mass migration. 

“You can get citizenship in three ways, birth, descent, or by grant, so this one sets up citizenship by grant … so it won't enable mass migration.”

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board member Vi Hausia emphasized the practical benefits of the bill for affected individuals and their families already residing in New Zealand. 

“Some of these people who were affected by getting their citizenship revoked back in 1981 already live in New Zealand, and their kids and their kids are already in New Zealand and are already New Zealand citizens.

“This is just ensuring that they have access to the needs that they require here in New Zealand, like healthcare, training, superannuation, so this mass migration thing is a distraction, it's not true, and you can work things out.”

Hausia said getting it past the first hurdle will allow for more in-depth discussion.

“Just because you support it into the first reading doesn't necessarily mean that you fully agree with the bill. It just means that you believe that there's merit in furthering the conversation, allowing community to be able to provide feedback through select committee.

“No bill is perfect before first reading, that's the point of having second reading, then ultimately the third reading. But to shut down the conversation even before we have a conversation, in my view, would be a huge disservice to this bill that ultimately will affect thousands of New Zealand citizens who are Samoans who had their citizens revoked back in 1982.”

Hausia underscored the importance of advancing the bill for further discussion, arguing against prematurely dismissing it. 

Malietoa-Brown said it could come down to an international-relations issue, with finer details that need to be worked out between the two countries, but doubts it will get that far.

By Talaia Mika 03 April 2024, 8:00AM
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