Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Asian input critical to city's future, says Huo

4:00AM Wednesday Nov 04, 2009
By Lincoln Tan

Despite being voted down in Parliament, Labour's Chinese MP Raymond Huo says he will be continuing his fight to have an Asian advisory board on Auckland's new Super City Council through a private member's bill.

"The Asian population is projected to hit 400,000 in Auckland within seven years, and the council will not be representative of the people if it did not have an input from this community," Mr Huo said.

Mr Huo's push to get an Asian advisory board included in the Super City was voted down in Parliament by 64 votes to 58.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out the possibility of having Maori seats on the new council, but Mr Huo said he wasn't seeking an Asian seat, although the Asian population will be growing at a much faster rate than Maori because of immigration.

"We are not seeking an Asian seat, simply a statutory link to the governing body that will advise on issues that affect the Asian community."

He said Auckland is the "seventh largest city with people of Chinese origin outside China" - in percentage terms - and that will continue to accelerate because of current immigration policy.

Under the parent policy New Zealand Immigration defines a family's "centre of gravity" as "the number of their adult children lawfully and permanently in New Zealand being equal to or greater than those in any other single country", making it eligible for nearly every immigrant from China to sponsor his or her parent because of the country's one-child policy.

The Asian population in Auckland is third only to European and Maori, and is projected to grow by 51 per cent up to 2016, compared with 46 per cent for the rest of New Zealand, he said.

"Auckland absorbs a disproportionate share of this growth, with about two-thirds of all new Asian migrants settling in the region," Mr Huo said.

"Ethnic minorities have also always been under-represented on Auckland's councils, with only 4 per cent being Asian, 4 per cent Pacific, 9 per cent Maori while 84 per cent are European. We need a more balanced representation if Auckland is truly to become a Super City."

Auckland University Professor of Asian Studies Manying Ip says the move to get Asian representation was "sensible" and something "policymakers cannot ignore" because Asians made up 13 per cent of the Auckland population.

She said many born under China's one-child policy were taking advantage of New Zealand's parent policy to sponsor their parents and even grandparents here, bringing new challenges in health, housing and socio-economic issues which will be better understood by members of the Asian community.

"Everything is legal, this is the New Zealand Government's policy and people are making full use of it.

"It is an inevitable trend, and it is up to everybody to get used to it. We cannot turn the clock back," Professor Ip said.

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