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Labour hits out at PM's drug claims

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/02/2017
<span style="font-size:13px;">Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson.</span> © Getty Images Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson.

Labour has hit out at "sweeping generalisations" by Prime Minister Bill English that employers are struggling to hire young Kiwis because they can't pass drug tests.

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson labelled the statements, made during a media conference on Monday, as a pathetic defence of the government's immigration policy.

"Making it worse, Bill English has admitted his sweeping generalisations are based on anecdotes rather than any evidence or hard facts.

"New Zealanders might get the impression that Bill English is the one on mind altering drugs, given the facts about how National has let down workers and young people over the last eight years," he said.

Mr English told reporters he was hearing two to three anecdotal reports a week from business owners hiring foreign workers because Kiwis aren't able to pass required drug tests.

"Under workplace safety you can't have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can't pass that test," he said.

"If you go around the country you'll hear all sorts of stories, some good, some not so good about Kiwis' willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available."

Labour leader Andrew Little told RNZ employers were telling him they wanted Work and Income to give young people two weeks to prepare to get into work.

"If they test positive at the beginning of the two weeks, give then a couple of weeks to clean up and get it out of their system," he said.

It's not the first time Mr English has been criticised for statements about the willingness of Kiwis to find work.

Last year, as finance minister, he said some were "pretty damned hopeless" and "can't read and write properly".

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