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PM must ask Greg O’Connor to please explain

PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 14 May 2023 -

PM must ask Greg O’Connor to please explain

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins must ask Ōhāriu MP Greg O’Connor to please explain the comments he made to a Sri Lankan family enquiring about accessing student loans, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

BusinessDesk has reported a Victoria University student approached Mr O’Connor, as her local MP, enquiring about the rules around permanent residents accessing student loans.

“Mr O’Connor reportedly said he had spoken to Deputy Prime Minister and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni about the issue, before remarking ‘this is not Sri Lanka’ and nothing could be done.

“The student said Mr O’Connor then alluded to how it’s pretty common in Sri Lanka to break the rules and made the point New Zealand is not like Sri Lanka and that is why you are not getting a student loan.

“The student said Mr O’Connor implied she came from a corrupt country so was looking for a corrupt deal to get around the rules.

“Mr O’Connor’s comments are shocking and totally inappropriate. New Zealand is crying out for skilled migrants and here we have a young woman and her family trying to make a life for themselves and contribute to our economy and they get treated like this by their local MP,” says Ms Stanford.

“The Prime Minister must ask Mr O’Connor to not only explain his comments but also apologise to the family.

“Labour’s anti-migrant sentiment has already done so much damage to New Zealand's reputation as a destination for skilled migrants over the last five years.

“Labour has made it nearly impossible for skilled migrants and their families to settle in New Zealand with years-long residence queues.

“They kept families separated during the Covid pandemic - including those of medical professionals who we desperately needed during a health emergency - meaning many left forever.

“A National government will be focused on getting the New Zealand economy firing again. That means making it easier for skilled migrants to enter New Zealand so they can contribute to our economic growth, help fill workforce shortages and make a life here for themselves and their families.”


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