NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke has vowed to resign if the party adopted a policy that would see “new settlers” forced to take out medical insurance for a decade.
The idea was proposed at the party’s annual conference in Rotorua on Sunday and a heated debate followed.
O’Rourke immediately stood up to declare the policy was discriminatory, illegal under the Bill of Rights and would open up NZ First to ridicule.
If the “disgraceful” remit was adopted, the list MP said he would considered withdrawing his membership.
His colleague Mahesh Bindra, who was born in India, also argued against the idea.
After arguments over the wording and the difference between citizens and permanent residents, the policy was rejected.
On Saturday, leader Winston Peters appeared to back the idea.
“Other countries have that. You can climb off a plane in New Zealand and be in our hospitals the next day … we’ve got to stop having a soft heart and a head to match,” Peters said.
Congratulations Denis O’Rourke. Great to see an MP take a principled stance.