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In the run-up to the New Zealand elections, political parties are bending over backward to address the long-standing grievances of Indian New Zealanders. It’s a curious phenomenon that repeats itself with a frustrating regularity during election cycles. Parties that have ignored, at worst, the pleas and protests of certain voting segments or, at best, soft-pedalled them, suddenly leap into action, promising solutions to issues they’ve previously known only too well. The primary concerns that have always been in the spotlight for the Kiwi Indian community for the past several years are immigration and law and order,.

Kiwi Indians, like any other community, have not been silent about their concerns in the past. They’ve called for change, they’ve demonstrated, submitted petitions, and they’ve continually demanded the attention of politicians. However, it seems that these cries fall on deaf ears until election time approaches. Why is it that their concerns are met with indifference when parties are in power or opposition? This is a question that demands a serious answer. 

In the present election cycle, all major political parties—Labour, National, and ACT—have rushed to announce policies that promise to address the long-known pain points of Indian New Zealanders. Immigration policies have taken centre stage, with each party vying to outdo the other. The National Party, for instance, has unveiled the ‘Parent Visa Boost,’ a five-year visa for parents and grandparents of migrants, which can be renewed for an additional five years. This policy aims to bridge the gap that currently limits options for these family members to visit their loved ones.

Similarly, ACT has introduced the ‘Unite Visa,’ mirroring National’s proposal but with a slight twist. It extends the visiting period for parents and grandparents of residents, permanent residents, and NZ citizens, with an annual fee allocated to a public health fund. 

A Convenient Change of Heart

While these policies may appear as genuine attempts to address the concerns of Kiwi Indians, they beg the question: why now? What has prompted these parties to suddenly prioritise these issues that have long been ignored? The answer, unfortunately, is all too apparent. It’s the election season, and political parties are keen to secure votes from this significant segment of the population. 

This sudden focus on immigration and law and order, including promises of increased frontline police, raises concerns about the sincerity of these political pledges. Will these promises be fulfilled, or will they be forgotten once the elections are over? The history of election-time promises does little to inspire confidence. The Kiwi Indian community has a right to be sceptical about whether these proposals will translate into concrete actions once the ballots are counted.

The Kiwi Indian community, like all others, deserves sustained attention from political parties, not just during election cycles. Their concerns are real and have been voiced repeatedly. It’s time for parties to break the cycle of election-time pandering and address these issues consistently and comprehensively.

With just over two weeks to the NZ elections, there is one more pressing concern that so far remains absent from the current electoral discourse ––the urgent need for an overhaul of the justice system. This demand resonates not only within the Kiwi Indian community but also among conscientious Kiwis who recognise the imperative for a fair and balanced legal framework.

In recent years, youth offending has surged, a trend exacerbated by the challenges brought on by the pandemic. These acts of brazenness have left communities grappling with rising crime rates and mounting insecurity. It would come as no surprise if political leaders decide to address this pressing concern in the coming days. Kiwis are yearning for a justice system that not only rehabilitates but also ensures that the consequences for criminal behaviour are proportionate and just.

It is heartening to see political parties finally acknowledge the grievances of the Kiwi Indian community. However, their past inaction and the timing of these announcements raise legitimate concerns about the sincerity of these promises. It’s high time that political parties commit to addressing the long-standing issues of all communities throughout their time in power, not just when they need votes. True representation means consistent engagement, not just during election seasons.