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National MP's comment causes a fuss

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/09/2016

National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Prime Minister John Key © Facebook/Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Prime Minister John Key Comments by a National MP about foreign students and fridges has caused a fuss, and Prime Minister John Key has been dragged into it.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is reported to have been speaking on an Indian radio programme two weeks ago when he was asked about Indian students who were in the process of being deported because their applications were based on false documents.

He was asked why the government was treating them as "economic commodities".

His comment, translated into English, was : "If New Zealand gets fridges from China and they're faulty, they send them back."

The Migrant Workers Association described the comment as derogatory and outrageous.

Mr Bakshi has acknowledged he could have used a better analogy but claims his comment was misinterpreted and he was actually referring to the New Zealand training institutions which accepted the students.

Mr Key was asked about the comment at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

He said Mr Bakshi had acknowledged that he had used "an unfortunate turn of phrase".

"He tried to use an analogy, he himself says it was a poor one," Mr Key said.

He told reporters he hadn't given Mr Bakshi a telling off.

Labour's immigration spokesman, Iain Lees-Galloway, says the comment confirmed the government sees international students as "nothing more than a commodity".

"It clearly hasn't occurred to Mr Bakshi that these people are human beings who have fallen into the government's broken immigration system," he said.

Indian students facing deportation have been staging protests and claiming they're being treated like criminals.

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