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'Entirely unacceptable' - Simon Bridges lashes out at Shane Jones' immigration comment

By Jo Moir of rnz.co.nz

National Party leader Simon Bridges has weighed in on NZ First MP Shane Jones telling immigrants to catch a flight home if they didn't like the country's immigration policies.

A change in approach by immigration officials to partnership visas - insisting that couples have to spend time living together in order to be eligible - means Indians in particular are having a much harder time bringing their spouses to New Zealand.

After people spoke out about the tougher stance, senior NZ First MP Shane Jones last month lashed out at the Indian community, telling them to catch the next flight home if they didn't like the country's immigration policy.

National Party leader Simon Bridges has weighed in, saying Mr Jones' comments were out of order.

"I've got a huge amount of sympathy for the Indian community. I think what Shane Jones has said is entirely unacceptable, is distasteful, and it's wrong,'' he said.

While NZ First leader Winston Peters continues to claim credit for the change, Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway insists no government directive was given.

"I'm not aware that there was any directive. It didn't come from me, it didn't come from Cabinet and I haven't heard from any of my immigration officials that they heard any directive from any member of the government,'' he said.

The Labour Party has been left to sort out the mess created by its coalition partner, and Mr Lees-Galloway has directed his officials to come up with a solution in the next few days.

"I think people will see that the minister, who is a Labour MP, is stepping in to sort this out and will see that Labour takes this issue seriously and is dealing with it,'' he said.

Mr Lees-Galloway said he had not asked Immigration New Zealand if they received any directive from Mr Peters or Mr Jones.

He said if a directive like that had been received he would expect his officials to tell him.

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The National Party leader said Shane Jones needs to reflect on the comment he made telling immigrants to catch a flight home if they didn’t like the country’s immigration policies.