The 15 March massacre in Christchurch committed by a 28-year old Australian identified as Brenton Tarrant, who killed about 50 people and injured other 50 at two mosques during the Friday prayer, came like a thunderbolt for New Zealand, which has long been regarded as one of the most peaceful countries in the world.
To tackle the emerging problem, the country's authorities doubled down on their efforts to prevent potential atrocities in the future. However, as it turns out, the New Zealand government has not kept any comprehensive record of hate crimes in the country.
Sputnik reached out to scholars and politicians trying to uncover the potential causes of the tragedy. According to the experts, Australia and New Zealand's major problem is no different than that of the EU, namely, it's the migration issue.
Negative Consequences Caused by Mass Migration
Having noted that the Queensland senator had been "heavily denounced by all major political parties, and parliament", Shannon remarked that "Anning was simply stating the obvious point that it was Muslim terrorism and other atrocities that provoked the unstable Australian shooter to commit his own massacre, and that atrocities by and against Muslims could be prevented by ending mass 'third world' immigration, starting with Muslim immigration".
According to the migration expert, the senator's concerns are not completely groundless.
"Immigrants account for one third of Australia's total population of 25 million", Shannon pointed out. "Australian governments have embraced immigration to such an extent that the country now has the largest per capita settler-immigration rate in the developed West, with immigration accounting for over half (around 55 percent) of Australia's total current rate of annual population growth. Currently, a settler-migrant arrives on Australian soil every 2 minutes and 21 seconds, on average".
Don Brash, formerly a New Zealand politician and ex-leader of the National Party, echoed Shannon's immigration concerns.
"I am on record as saying two things about our immigration policies", Brash said. "First, on strictly economic grounds, our rate of immigration is too high: we apparently have the highest level of desired immigration, relative to our population, of any developed country apart from Israel. Second, I am on record as saying that immigrants to New Zealand should be expected to support 'New Zealand values' — free speech, freedom to worship God in any way one chooses (or not to worship God at all), equality of men and women, etc."
Brash noted that while very few "illegal refugees" come to New Zealand, there are people, who, having come to the country on valid visas, have over-stayed their visa entitlement.
Leighton Baker, a businessman and leader of the New Conservative Party in New Zealand, in turn said that the country needs "to develop a long term immigration plan looking at the jobs that will still be viable in the future."
"If we allow people to migrate here for work that is becoming obsolete, then we are importing a burden for our future generations. We need to place a greater focus on people that migrate to New Zealand being able to integrate through a comprehensive understanding of the language and culture," Baker said.
Many of both the legal and illegal newcomers join the ranks of the so-called "guest workers", according to Shannon.
"There are 1.6 million temporary work visa-holders (‘guest workers') currently in Australia — a huge number in a country of just 25 million total population", he emphasised, adding that many of them are "illegally paid below the legislated minimum wage".
The expert highlighted that in the eyes of the Australians, "cheap foreign labour, especially illegal immigration, displaces Australian workers from Australian jobs".
Currently, "seven out of every ten new jobs created in Australia goes to an immigrant", Shannon underscored.
Immigration Problem is Being Silenced
A 2017 study by The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) revealed that over half of Australians want a "substantial reduction in immigration" believing that "Australia is in danger of losing its culture and identity".
"Only four percent of all candidates in Australia's 2016 federal election wanted lower immigration", he underscored, adding that the TAPRI report found out that Australian voters feel "threatened by possible accusations of racism" if they voice concerns over immigration.
At the same time, there is strong public opposition to Muslim immigration in Australia driven by the fear of radical Islamism, Shannon noted.
"Muslim immigrants have been solely responsible for an exponential increase in terrorism in the last decade and a half (accounting for the last six incidents since 2014 and all fifteen of the foiled plots)", he opined. "Yet, to raise any criticisms of, or objection to, Muslim immigration or Islam is to invite being smeared as being bigoted and 'Islamophobic' and responsible for provoking massacres of Muslims".
Citing the fact that Senator Anning was subjected to harsh criticism for his statement, Shannon suggested that the silencing of criticism of Islam would "gain a new impetus".
"When the current wave of revulsion against the Christchurch massacres subsides, however, the reality of excessive immigration, and the particular pathologies of Islamic immigration, will reassert itself, namely that mass immigration is the key demographic driver of unsustainable population growth and thus responsible for a major part of the stresses on the environment, transport and other physical infrastructure, the welfare budget, health and education services, housing accessibility and affordability, community safety, Islamic terrorism, etc.", he opined.
'Muslims Get Unreasonable Favour Over Christians'
However, according to ex-leader of the National Party Don Brash there is no justification for atrocities against unarmed people no matter what religion or ethnicity they belong to.
"I think there is broad agreement that, because the massacre was so totally out of keeping with values that all New Zealanders hold dear, the Government has been right to make a big issue of showing that, no matter what one's views on Islam might be, there is no justification at all for massacring unarmed people at worship", the politician emphasised.
For his part, Samraat Joshua Grewal, a Christian Democratic Party (CDP) member, suggested that the New Zealand prime minister was "giving Muslims unreasonable favour over Christians". As a result, "many Christians now feel marginalised and are beginning to resent to excessive attention given to attacks on Muslims, while the same attention isn't granted to their community."
The CDP opposes the UN Migration Pact, which prompted criticism from right-wing politicians in Europe and the US, suggesting that "it is a threat to national border sovereignty".
"Such an agreement would allow more incidents like the recent Christchurch shooter attack to happen again", Grewal warned.
Shooter's Manifesto Banned While Mein Kampf is Still Available
Meanwhile, Brash bemoaned the fact that the Australian shooter's manifesto had been banned on a federal level. The gunman's 73-page manifesto titled "The Great Replacement" that was shared on social media platforms was banned along with the footage of the massacre by tech giants.
At the same time, however, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is still available for purchase in New Zealand bookstores.
Brash, a member of the Free Speech Coalition in New Zealand, stressed that the coalition "[had] issued a press statement deploring the banning of the manifesto", adding that typically "New Zealand has a commendably high level of tolerance for free speech".
For his part, Grewal noted that the party also opposed any restrictions with regard to the freedom of speech. He added, however, that being an Australian citizen the shooter cannot refer to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 which protects the freedom of opinion and expression.
According to the politicians, the 15 March tragedy has sowed discord in New Zealand society.
The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.