Simon Wilson has an excellent article in “The Spinoff” about Auckland’s growth challenges and the apparent lack of interest from Central Government in talking about or tackling these major issues. Wilson really highlights that many of the issues facing Auckland have reached crisis point over the past couple of years:

Because let’s call it straight: this city is on the edge of crisis.

We all know this. In transport, housing, health, education, crime, the drains when it rains – wherever you look – supply of services has been outstripped by demand, costs have risen beyond the reach of ordinary citizens and existing systems are failing to cope with their workloads. It’s as true for stormwater as it is for school counselling; congestion on the roads mirrors congestion in the health services dealing with diabetes.

A city in crisis is a city that can’t deliver to its potential – for its own citizens or for the country.

The core of all these issues is that investment in Auckland just hasn’t been keeping up with growth. After reaching 1.5 million in late 2013, Auckland’s population has already blown past 1.6 million in the first half of last year and is now on course to reach 1.7 million by the middle of next year according to Stats NZ’s latest projections. The annual growth has increased massively from 15,000-20,000 from 2006 to 2013, tripling to nearly 45,000 in each of the past couple of years – with this year potentially being highest of all assuming record net migration statistics flow through into our growth levels. The graph below compares Auckland’s annual growth with other major regions over the past decade:

Wilson’s article calls out the elephant in the room – that the government really doesn’t have a plan for Auckland.

What do we need? It’s great the government has spending plans for programmes that will benefit Auckland. But we need more than that. We need long-term planning, not just short-term crisis management. Not “Let’s put another motorway lane there” but “How do we restructure the transport systems of the city?” Not “Let’s give that kid a scholarship” but “How do get great teachers into all the schools so obviously most in need of them?”

And we need a special focus. From central and local government, the private sector and NGOs, and from citizens, we need creative, inclusive, new ideas. We could think of it like this: Auckland is a project.

Funnily enough when the government really knuckled down to work with the Council on the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, they all came up with a reasonably decent plan. Of course it needs funding and needs to be more aspirational, but at least there’s a coherent and broadly agreed plan. Where’s something similar for dealing with Auckland’s housing crisis? Auckland’s environmental challenges? Growing inequality between different parts of the city? An economy that still underperforms compared to its potential?

Wilson concludes by outlining what I think is a really good “ten point plan” that makes a good start on what should form the basis of an “Auckland policy” for any party going into the election:

  1. Māori students at kura kaupapa have achieved some remarkable improvements, and students at most Catholic schools, especially in the lower deciles, also do remarkably well. Why? What are the things these schools do right that can be applied in other lower decile schools and right across the state school system?
  2. We’ve known for a long time that primary health care and public health are the keys to addressing most of the illnesses people turn up to hospital with. So how do we make primary health care more effective?
  3. It used to be said – by members of the current cabinet – that Aucklanders will never get out of their cars. We now know from passenger numbers on the electric trains and Northern Busway that this is simply not true. Yet transport planning is still based on building more roads. Let’s put the focus squarely on public transport, especially rail (trams and trains), and cycling and walking. Not because everyone has to stop driving, but because cities geared to PT have less congestion on the roads than cities geared for cars. Strange, but true.
  4. There’s a mayoral taskforce that has no central political input; there are skilled private sector advocates like Leonie Freeman whose services are somehow not required. Let’s take the current attempts to coordinate an approach to building affordable housing and social housing, and supercharge them. Everybody on board.
  5. The uncomfortable truth: if dairy and bottle store owners were mainly Pakeha there is no way we would put up with their being attacked so often. Yes, we need all the social programmes we can get to steer at-risk kids away from crime, and we also need more police in the community engaged in prevention, and we need a priority alert system to deal with dairy robberies when they occur. Let’s make the armed robbery of dairies a crime that’s very hard to get away with.
  6. When it rains hard in Auckland – which is often, especially in autumn and spring – the stormwater drains can’t cope. The cost is measured in the misery of people repeatedly flooded out of their homes and workplaces; it’s also measured in the pollution of our waterways. Let’s have Watercare come out from whichever underground bunker it’s hiding in and front-foot a programme to get the drains working properly.
  7. In the first city of Māoridom, Māori are at the bottom of almost all the statistics for achievement and the top for the statistics of risk. Māori are not institutionally celebrated as they should be – there’s no cultural centre on the waterfront, for example – and not properly represented on council either. Why? Because not enough of us understand or value our unique bicultural character? How about a citywide programme to teach te reo in schools? With outreach for parents too?
  8. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you think we should have 10 million people here or slam the doors entirely and not let another person in. The fact is, 90,000 immigrants arrived in the country last year and half of them settled in Auckland, but nobody planned for that to happen. Let’s have the public debate, and the political policies on the table, and make decisions as a community.
  9. Auckland the super-city has achieved a lot of things, but it costs more than it was supposed to, it’s not allowed to run enough of its own affairs and the relationship of council to the “council-controlled” organisations is way less functional than it should be. Seven years into the new city governance setup, it’s time for a review.
  10. Back to the start. Auckland champions please. Forward-looking, inclusive, engaged. Not afraid to say, Auckland is important, here’s why, and here’s how we’re going to help it function well for the good of the entire country.

At the moment it seems like much of the response to these challenges from political parties is to battle over who can make the most outrageous statements over cutting immigration. This isn’t going to cut it and may well undermine the steps Auckland needs to take. Well supported by investment, growth is good for us – it makes Auckland more productive, more interesting, more diverse and more vibrant. We also need many more people to build the 15,000 houses a year Auckland desperately needs at the moment.

What we really need is for the parties to move beyond their tendencies (either implicit or explicit) towards xenophobia and for them to actually take the challenges and opportunities of Auckland’s growth seriously. Perhaps they need to be reminded that Auckland makes up a third of the votes.

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104 comments

  1. For the Green Party Auckland will be a major election issue and they will attract the same voters who have voted for them the last two elections.

    For the other parties Auckland will be a second tier issue. It’s a turn-off for the rest of the country and any mainstream party continually harping on about Auckland risks alienating non-Auckland voters.

    1. I think claiming that only the Greens care about Auckland is a bit of a stretch. Most parties will have a focus on Auckland (it’s a huge part of the electorate) but will they address these issues? Some more than others. I know UnitedFuture has policies to cover most of these and would be interested in address the remainder. I can’t believe the old parties don’t have policies for most.

      These are significant issues that need addressing and it would be good to get a comparison of the policies of each party to see how they measure up.

  2. Maybe the new mantra that central Gov’t politicians hold and simply “know to be true”, is that Aucklanders won’t get out of their cars and vote.

    So they don’t need to bother courting the vote of the largest city in the country – ‘cos it won’t matter.

    And so those who live elsewhere then get a much larger say in the running of the country as a result.

    Only way to change that perception by the politicians is at the ballot box, this September.

    If the missing million from last election who failed to vote, turn up to vote this time, why the current lot in power will be gone burgers.

  3. In the days of MMP is it time for an Auckland focussed party? If it got enough votes it could easily hold the balance of power. Of course it could cause all sorts of issues and backlash.

    1. Interesting idea, but “Aucklanders” aren’t monolithic. So any “auckland party” would need to either do an uncertain straddle across things where Aucklanders are NOT reasonably united, or declare itself explicitly neutral on those things. Heck, even on those matters where people tend to have a reasonably common opinion (house prices are too high, traffic is too congested, Auckland doesn’t get enough investment), the opinion on HOW to deal with things could be miles apart between people…

      But yeah, an unabashed “for Auckland” party could conceivably go over the 5% hurdle or even higher – and yes, it would cause all sorts of pertubations…

      1. I rather wonder with the surge in Auckland’s population, if a vote in an Auckland electorate has the same value as a vote in a more static rural electorate, i.e. despite a not too distant census things have changed very rapidly in Auckland, with large numbers of returning New Zealanders immediately eligible to vote?

  4. The claims about “cutting immigration” are laughable, unless somebody plans to build a wall around Auckland and cut off the airport. Cities grow in population when the number of jobs in them grows. Young people especially, move to the cities where the jobs are. If external immigration was deliberately reduced, internal immigration from other parts of New Zealand would increase. There would still be a problem.

    So there is no escaping the fact that Auckland has a crisis in housing (too few existing and being built), and housing affordability (ludicrous prices). Auckland has Sydney house prices with average incomes that are 2/3 of Sydney, and they think affordability is bad in Sydney. The solution is not urban sprawl to the Bombay Hills, or people will have 2 hr commutes and Auckland Council will be paying for the long(er) lengths of roads and services for the next 30 years.

    There needs to be reform to land use planning policy (more medium density with fewer rights to appeal when a development does not breach height limits and amenity rules), land and house tax mechanisms (need to remove the financial incentives towards higher house prices), construction materials supply (monopolies leading to very high input costs), infrastructure (redirecting the money from expensive freeways to cheaper and higher capacity rail and trams) and Council revenue. AT should take over the budget for transport within Auckland, including road and highway planning, from NZTA. NZTA should then stick to the intercity highways that it understands. That is the only way we will get an integrated system that matches land use and transport, and matches transport funding with transport demand.

    1. Scott, many countries do exactly this – on the visa it specifically states that can only work or reside in a certain territory/state/province.
      NZ could easily put a visa condition to say may not reside within 100km of the CBD (which would take it past Kaiwaka in the North and past Huntly in the South. Can also exclude employment based in Auckland. Simpler to just reduce the total numbers (particularly from India and China which are the two largest sources currently and are mostly low skilled).
      There has always been net internal migration to Auckland. There is nothing to suggest that this would increase if there were less immigrants (and even if it were it would still be far far less than the numbers of immigrants we currently have arriving into Auckland).

      1. I agree that it may assist to some amount, but there are some issues with this approach. Once someone reaches Permanent Residence status they can live where they like, resulting many people will essentially tread water until they can move to Auckland (maybe this will divert a few from Auckland). Secondly, many international immigrants coming to Auckland are skilled migrants filling roles simply not available locally, and can’t suddenly come into being as often you require an amount of experience as well as education to fill these roles (made worse by the experienced baby boomers retiring).

      2. New Zealand doesn’t have territories, states or provinces, nor do we have registration of residence (like many European countries).

        People often suggest this like it is an easy thing, but we don’t actually have any mechanisms by which we can check or enforce where people live.

        I might add that there are already incentives on points required for immigration if you live outside of the main centres, but few people take it up.

        1. I guess we don’t have any at all Nick R – Auckland is just a figment of my imagination. As is Waikato, Northland, BoP etc etc. There certainly are methods of enforcing this (yes there would be a cost, however there is also a huge cost in too many people).
          Mike – Yes if they have some specific skill that is actually needed in Auckland then they could have that non-Auckland restriction removed.
          Once people have settled they are more likely to stay there than they would be if they had started in Auckland and then thought about moving elsewhere.

          1. Dude, quote one existing New Zealand law by which what you propose (place of residence restrictions) could be implemented? If not, please explain how such a law could be passed in parliament, and who you think would vote for it?

            And of the many countries you refer to that have provincial restrictions on place of residence for entry permits, how many are democracies in the OECD? In my experience there are very few.

          2. Laws are created all the time. It would fall under immigration law presumably.
            Hmm countries with provinces – I’ll give you a big one – Canada.

      3. This is already factored into the current points calculation for immigrating to NZ, there are more points for living outside Auckland.

        In addition to what Mike has said above, this can often be detrimental to smaller towns as they often get a continuing cycle of short term doctors for example that then move to the city once they get Permanent Residence or Citizenship.

        I agree that the current rate of population growth in Auckland and NZ is not sustainable. If the rate of net migration between NZ and Australia is the new normal then we have the luxury to reduce immigration. However, if we were to make cuts to immigration and NZ/AU numbers were to return to the norm of the last 30 years, then we would run the risk of a falling population and the problems that come with that.

        1. Its a migration boom at the moment, wasn’t so long ago, but then it was before that, but then it wasn’t.

          Our problems with planning and housing supply aren’t related to last years migration boom, they’re related to the last few decades of urban policy.

          1. Agree. I personally think the NZ/AU net migration will return to the long term trend of outflow towards Australia, which will bring overall net migration back to a more steady level of growth.

      4. My point is, that if Auckland is generating new jobs faster and higher paid than the rest of New Zealand (and it is) then even if you cut off external migration entirely (very few places have but still…) you would then have increased pressure on internal migration from the rest of the country to Auckland. You can’t stop a New Zealand citizen who wants to move from Napier to Auckland from doing so. So the hollowing out of some country towns would increase.

        When you think about it, if the price of housing in Auckland were not so outrageous, the flow of people moving in would actually increase from what it is now.

    2. Even if we were able to cut off the flow of migrants to Auckland and put up a wall to keep everyone out. Auckland’s population would still continue to grow because births outnumber deaths in Auckland

    3. There was something about Japan’s zoning rules which is why house prices are affordable even in Tokyo…search for it…it was posted by Greater Auckland a while ago

    4. “…The claims about “cutting immigration” are laughable, unless somebody plans to build a wall around Auckland and cut off the airport…”

      Actually it would be a gazillion times cheaper to simply build the wall around the airport. However, I see the makings of a fine roading contractor/engineer in you.

      1. 25% of migrants are returning NZers or Aussies. The other 50% are short term migrants (e.g. 1yr working visas) or students.

        Non-NZers/Aussies coming and buying up houses? Minimal in the grand scheme of things. More like locals and non-residents. Deal with those (tax and restrictions, respectively) and then deal with the supply-side.

        Otherwise, NZ (incl. Auckland) needs more people.

  5. The 9th floor is an interesting view of the political process and way our government works. I’ve seen the first two episodes so far and it’s worth watching.

    As to whether the issues that matter to Auckland can be made into issues that matter in this election, I guess that depends on the parties perception of the election calculus.

    Ignoring the electorates, Auckland has a large and fastest growing portion of the party vote. Even in this digital age, physical is potentially still a factor. If a politician can see/listen more people in a day and turn that into more actual votes in the election then maybe it will become more of a factor.

    1. I’ve just finished ‘Revolution’ and am half way through The 9th Floor – I was totally ignorant of historical politics.

      What struck me is that most people in positions of power now have been doing politics since long before Auckland was of any appreciable size (i.e.at the scale where small town thinking falls apart). Auckland will struggle as long as these people hold power, they are still thinking in a frame of the backbone of farmers, a recent history of massive state control, massive labour unions and the free market saving us all – I’ve not seen any evidence that we’ve ever moved beyond that (for any party). To a lot of people, Auckland is still the mid 80’s yuppie share market boom town where nothing of value is created.

      We need a massive injection of fresh blood (who understand the history so we don’t make the same naive mistakes)

      1. It’s one of the reasons I think the Labour party has not done so well. Long standing politicians regardless of how clever there are get stuck in there ways.

        For example Phil Goff – 11 terms?

        I wonder how interesting it would be if NZ had a 4 or 5 term max for all MPs.

  6. Yes Auckland needs more infrastructure (particularly PT infrastructure) but Auckland is never ever going to catch up on this or even get close when it has 45,000 immigrants (plus natural growth and domestic migration) arriving each year. Even 10,000 immigrants into Auckland only would still be hard for housing to keep up with but would be a start.

    I fail to see how Te Reo is going to help one single bit in getting Auckland Infrastructure or housing built (or for that matter actually helping Maori – since it is not used internationally and virtually everyone in NZ speaks English). If it is about speaking more than one language (numerous studies show there is a benefit to speaking more than 1 language) then give people a choice of language (Mandarin would probably be quite useful since the majority of Auckland’s population growth has been Chinese. Spanish is widely spoken as is French. Between those 3 languages you have about 3+ billion speakers around the world).

    1. I agree that learning Te Reo fluently would not be of much benefit to most people. However, there is value from at least learning the language in that it gives a much better understanding of Maori place names and tradition, which is probably quite valuable.

      Also learning a second language is often the hardest, once you have crossed that barrier others become much easier.

    2. Let’s see how many apartment buildings we could build if all those road construction workers were moved onto apartment buildings.

      Remembering, of course, that if you don’t increase the road capacity, there is no increase in traffic, so if the apartments are put in the inner suburbs, there will at least be no further roading infrastructure required. More PT required of course, but that can be achieved easily if the roading network is reduced to give buses and LR room.

      And Te Reo? Well, since Maori are the ones who should be determining the immigration policy, maybe learning Te Reo means you could at least be listening to the discussion. 🙂

        1. Building apartments around stations is the way to go. The infrastructure is there. The cost to the council is low. Spending on highways, paths, water pipes etc in far away new suburbs costs $100’s of millions.

          1. Most places in Japan were actually within a reasonable distance to a station…15mins walk was maybe the longest walk I had to a station

    3. Learn Maori *and* Mandarin (or Italian, Spanish, etc). The former will help with the latter (among other things)

      Ireland (as one example) learn gaelic and a second language from a young age.

    1. Thank you I didn’t know there was a name for it. But reading the headline above I assumed that was the answer.

  7. I love Auckland @ the moment – love the pressures coming in lovely vivid colours -Lucky we are to be expanding to meet people wanting to live in Paradise. No big problem , just enjoy the ride. It’s our chance to get sexy heavy rail to the shore and build sexier HIGH 50 floor silver glass apartments.

    Solution: Allow camping in the Domain for people with no housing right now! Like a shanty town and lets stop being so proud and White to stop such a measure. Tell NZTA off with the east west link. Get “Simon Fat head Bridges” to get his out of National old farts hands and put a light rail funding solution in now. Why do people miss the point Simon Bridge a human being IS the man purely responsible for all matters transport as the Minster of transport. Arrh

    3. Tell the Universities to pay rates and back date them until 1950!

    last get me a girlfriend so I can stop being an online annoyance.

    1. I think the girls would flock to your side, Acidreflux, if you’d only change your name.

      How about filling up all the carparks with tiny houses, too? And change the motorways to cyclelanes? 🙂

      1. Car parks can be filled with Camper-vans if people didn’t use 9 brain cells to stop “FREEDOM CAMPERS”

    2. Not if this blog has anything to do with it – they are opposed to HR to the shore (or is that just any new HR in general?)
      If LR is built then it also makes it less likely that HR would be built in future as well since that would either require an AAWHC or a larger version of their CFN2 PT only crossing be built to start with.
      Personally I would love to see an 2x HR lines running up the Shore intersecting with another one along Upper Harbour through to Westgate. Of course that would be very expensive but would rather have that built and then convert the busway to LR once the load is taken off by the HR.

      1. No argument there but GA chiefs have decided they know whats best for the rest of us. I bet when they do CFN2 presentations they don’t say there are still those that prefer an HR based NW and NS solution.

        1. Yet I have yet to see you submit a guest post, or even try to justify HR for the routes you propose yourself. Last time I asked you just called me a Govt Apologist & went its for other people to justify your opinions.

          So why don’t you front up with some facts with a detailed guest post submission rather than just whining.

          Oh and you were warned about using a pseudonym start posting with your real name.

          1. I’d love to submit a guest post on why HR will be the best solution for CFN3, I’d better get writing then 🙂

          1. Exactly, going by the budgets presented in GFN2 (via ATAP) the budgets are there for Light rail, and more importantly, now (or within the next 10 years). Get it built, and sure, in 20 years time IF it needs upgrading, then there’s a case and a back bone for it.

            The heavy rail bible bashers need to do some research and investigate costs … Then present something apart from just their firm beliefs that light rail wont work because “it wont work” or “it wont have capacity” or “it will be too slow”.

      2. Agreed AKLdude. Do it once and do it right. Then there will be much less chance of having to do it again, or continually needing to re-work it, and having to waste time and money through not doing it properly in the first place.

        1. The best way to get more transit is to actually build efficient, effective transit lines and run them properly. Success breeds success.
          The worst way to get more transit is to demand projects up front that consume ten years of the budget and never get built in the first place.

  8. Build a whopping great big car park at all the Bus ways and Start tolling drivers who park in the city. Then Reduce the speed on harbour Bridge to allow Bikes and Scooters.

    Get unemployed people to start Volunteering to do walking bus loops around School Locations with a kindoff “tipping system”. OPEN THE FIREWALL please so we can stream Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, John Oliver, online so we can enjoy Being living in a small house.

  9. Do we still have a Minister for Auckland? There was someone in that position in a previous government – but I’m not sure who it was and if they are still there. Anyone know?

      1. Because Ekatahuna doesn’t have 1/3rd of the national population living in a state of crisis with housing and transport.

    1. Thanks for that, Bevan. Yes, good political insight. Yes, public transport needs the money now to fix the problem. Only problem is, the other thing that must happen is that the road network must be reduced as well. Basically, Wilson hasn’t gone far enough. You may be up to speed on Duranton and Turner’s work, but maybe Wilson isn’t. They showed that improving public transport does not reduce the vehicle kilometres travelled. For that, you have to reduce the road network. Which dovetails nicely, since you need that space for the public transport:

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w15376

      1. That sounded ruder than intended, sorry. I’d just like to shift the conversation even further, to include what is really necessary – road reduction. Wilson’s articles are excellent. And I’ll shut up about it now.

        1. Given that argument, We can have a proper unbroken buslane on SH16 now, without resorting to building a dedicated busway that won’t happen for years. There are new lanes there already, yet instead of using a full lane they are tacking on a bitsy bus lane. They could make the “fast lane” into a bus lane – this would even work on SH1 – possibly also for trucks. I fail to see why the central lanes, which no other traffic needs to cross, can’t be used for these larger vehicles- and these vehicles are less likely to duck and dive on and off the motorway.

  10. It’s simply disingenuous and frankly offensive to argue that anyone who suggests that migration settings should be changed / immigration reduced is xenophobic!

    Migration / visa settings should be properly reviewed. It’s naive to say we just need to build more houses. If only it was that simple!

    Of course, it’s equally naive to suggest changes to the migration / visa settings will solve the problem.
    So…we need to address demand….and supply, across multiple areas.

    Can we please move away from simplistic policy sloganeering? (in both the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ immigration camps)

    I’d like to see significant change to the post study visa scheme. At present, graduates can work in an area not related to their study for up to one year. I’d like to see that reduced to 3, or maybe, 6 months.
    If a graduate can’t find work within 6 months, then it would logically suggest that:
    a. The area they have graduated in does not have a ‘shortage’ of workers; and/or
    b. The graduate has a poor qualification, or is lacking in some manner.

    Of course, some grads will just be unlucky.
    But that’s life.

    1. “It’s simply disingenuous and frankly offensive to argue that anyone who suggests that migration settings should be changed / immigration reduced is xenophobic”

      Sure but it doesn’t help the fact that many people talking about it clearly have a racial angle cough Peters cough

      1. Yes, agree. I find the racist element of Peters’ rhetoric abhorrent.
        But to tar any one who thinks the migration settings can and should be changed, for reasons totally unrelated to race, with the ‘xenophobe’ brush, is unfair and offensive.

        1. So articulate a good immigration policy then. I would have thought something like:

          – Attracting the world’s best and brightest to come and live in New Zealand
          – Trying to stabilise net migration rates, which fluctuate dramatically due to NZers leaving to Australia and coming back from overseas jumping about massively

          The biggest problem is that we lurch from “brain drain” to “flood of migrants” every few years.

          1. Agree with that.
            But perhaps we could have trained up a lot more of our own citizens much more effectively, over the years, in key trades areas.
            For me that is a big policy failure. and one of the key reasons why we are short in those areas and are needing migrants in those areas.

            I agree we need more stability with migration, although easier said than done! It’s not just the flow of kiwis that is volatile, the flow of international students has been pretty volatile too, subject to the whims of economies and exchange rates.

            BTW, I have this concept that goes like this:

            – Auckland built a lot of shoebox apartments in the 1998 – 2006 period
            – These accommodated a lot of students
            – The building of said apartments slowed massively with the GFC, plus other factors (increased Council regulation – not commenting here on whether that was good or bad, or a bit of both)
            – With increasing migration and student numbers, there is less opportunity for said migrants / students to live in the CBD, where many of the educational institutions are. As a result more and more have moved to suburban locations (presumably flatting, or homestays), placing more pressure on ex-CBD housing, and the road network

            I’ve been interested in this matter for a while, and have a fantasy ( 🙂 ) of getting data that highlights where international students live….bloody hard to get I imagine, and with my general lack of time (or funding !) that’s not going to happen

            So…what improvements to housing (in particular) and roading would we see if 1000 CBD apartments were built overnight????

    2. Graduates are probably the best future migrants for NZ as they’ve studied here, settled in and are pretty likely to be young and well educated. You wouldn’t think that they would pay huge international fees for qualifications that end up with a dead-end job.

      1. Yeah, but I’m pretty sure our tens of thousands of language students are able utilise that visa. Please correct me if I am wrong.

          1. I’ve had a look and can’t readily find data on ‘post study graduate work visas’.
            I’ll contact Stats NZ

          2. When the changes to immigration legislation were announced recently, one of the reasons advanced was that the number of ‘high skills/high value’ students was actually very low compared to the number of students doing language or business courses.

          3. Stats NZ told me they don’t keep the stats and they referred me to Immigration NZ where I have been unable to access the stats….seems mysteriously inaccessible

      2. Majority (by a long way) of foreign students in NZ aren’t doing a University level course but are instead doing low level often worthless diplomas often in learning English or cooking etc. These courses could be a good thing but many are simply just a sham backdoor entry to immigrate to NZ.

    3. If there is no real prospect for employment from a given qualification perhaps it shouldnt be eligible for a student loan. We need to train for the skills required not meaningless degrees in rubbish.

    4. It’s not disingenuous at all.

      1) As has been noted there is clearly a bit more than just xenophobia going on, e.g. consider “Chinese sounding names” (Peters is honestly neither here nor there: Labour is the problem because they’re mainstream whereas “Racist Peters” has long been seen as a laughing stock aspect to his reputation… no more, my friend).

      2) Not so long ago we were having hissy fits about the Brain Drain and as much as Labour is crying “slash immigration” they’re also pointing at Australia… as if they’re actually doing something different to what Labour wants. It’s neither okay, apparently, to stop “Kiwis” from going to Australia (or being mean to them when they arrive) nor to let people come in.

      3) All rational theory suggests that immigration is beneficial so it should be given the benefit of the doubt.

      4) Some people try to suggest that the issue is about the /effects/ of immigration, e.g. infrastructure shortages, and yet they would try and get rid of people who have been living in NZ (and generally working here) for years (i.e. have generally been here since the brain drain days). Clearly such people aren’t contributing to the sudden arrival of the problem.

      When anti-immigration arguments start being consistent with the principles of scarcity rather than having strange holes better explained by xenophobia, /then/ you can claim it is disingenuous. Today is not that day. And as long as Andrew Little and Peters are pushing themselves to further radical extremes, we are not going to reach that day any time soon.

      (Notice that the “do nothing” and wait for Australia’s economy to wind down approach to the Brain Drain is the reason for the current issue insofar as infrastructure and investment in, particularly, urban Auckland are revitalising measures… i.e. conducive to keeping people here and provide capacity for more people. Also notice that the Brain Drain, or, rather, seeking economic opportunity in Australia demonstrates the inconsistency of Labour’s current policies with traditional leftism. See also: Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (series 1).)

      1. Immigration settings are a public choice, governments change them all the time. NZ’s government last year made some modifications to immigration levels. Surely immigration settings in a democracy is a legitimate area of public debate. Surely the public can hold the government/decision makers to account for the effects that these decisions on immigration have?

        No one in NZ advocates for a free-for-all immigration policy. Everyone argues implicitly or explicitly for some degree of restriction on the movement of non NZ citizens into NZ. How can it be then, that some people argue (seemingly in all circumstances) that removing immigration restrictions is virtuous and tightening restrictions is immoral?

        1. Firstly, never start off with something like “no-one is in favour of [open borders]”. There are two reasons for this. One, it’s not way out of left field. While I agree it’s a radical point of view, it is only just outside the mainstream. Two, what if I was to turn around and say, “Well, actually…” You’re in luck insofar as I can’t name names and have to just point out the first point.

          Secondly, you really do need to dispute my reasoning. It’s not enough to simply talk past me.

          It makes more sense to address the rest of your post in response to Matt P.

          1. Whirlsler are you advocating for a open door immigration policy? I am not sure -your comment was kind of garbled.

      2. It ‘IS’ totally disingenuous to say anyone who suggests migration settings should be changed (important note: ‘CHANGED’, NOT SLASHED TO A VERY LOW LEVEL) is xenophobic. Sorry, you are not getting away with that one! It’s sloppy, simplistic, sloganistic etc.
        And frankly, as someone who is married to an immigrant and counts many immigrants as friends, yet thinks the settings should be changed, I am offended if someone implies I am xenophobic/racist just because I think the immigration settings should be changed. It’s a policy viewpoint not a racial one for crying out loud! I realise some people who want change to immigration ARE racist – but please don’t slur everyone who thinks migration settings should be changed with that slogan. As I say its offensive, and patently unfair.
        There is plenty of research that questions the true benefits of immigration versus the costs. I don’t have time to dig it up, someone else might.
        Also, the piece from the Grattan Institute that featured in Peter Nunn’s Sunday Reading showed that the policy option of reducing immigration had one of the largest impacts on positively affecting housing affordability, and was the ‘easiest’ politically.
        Again, it’s not to suggest that migration does not have significant benefits. But like all policy calls, it’s about finding a balance , and I for one am not convinced NZ has the right balance in terms of the optimal benefits (versus the costs) to the country.

        1. There are those who like to suggest that there are people who criticise pausing to define words as childish and shouldn’t belong in “adult” conversation. That is the truly childish point of view (if indeed it exist), because it gives the bounds of the discussion most clearly. To that end, disingenuous is defined by Oxford Dictionaries Online as: “Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” It’s that last part that I’d like to focus on.

          Imagine, for instance, that John says to Paul, “That’s a terrible movie.” We know what John has said but we do not know what John means, they’re completely different things. The meaning of the statement, we ought to presume, is clear to Paul because he is party to contextual information we lack. I put it to you that meaning is contextually dependent and hence separate from the nominal sense of a sentence. (And if you think it was generous to assume the meaning is clear to Paul this simply demonstrates that intent is also to be separated out because people can be bad at communicating what they say.)

          This brings us back to what disingenuous it means. I can’t simply pretend that I don’t know the above (it’s not opinion, these really are separate things) and I can’t simply pretend that Peters and Little aren’t sitting somewhere with white cats on their laps and plotting their devious schemes. Hence, I cannot remove any narrative about immigration from the narrative put about, primarily, by two individuals I find reprehensible. To this you might be thinking, “Yeah, well, that’s just you Whirlsler, I can do that just fine.” My point is that you can’t (even if you want to; recall that intent is another thing again?). In some ways, I cast you as a tragic figure… you want to respect immigrants but in choosing to offer a narrative of immigration reduction you destroy this ambition.

          Let’s say that you’ve got some very dry immigration reform policy (cf vision) that has two other critical characteristics. One, the narrative we can use to sell it is: immigration reduction (even if it amounts to, say, one less immigrant a year… the scale is unimportant). Two, that the policy is consistent with what we know, i.e. at the moment we’re complaining about stresses but we’re going to be back to having fits about the brain drain [whenever]. Now, obviously, I suggest no such policy exists and that’s really important to bear in mind. So I’ll relax this assumption to a policy that is rationally derived even if we might quibble about its premises. Everything sounding reasonable? Great.

          The issue is that policy can’t be divorced from its narrative and if you’re a racist twit sitting thinking anti-immigrant things or even “just” xenophobic this week because you read an article in the Herald or saw a post on Facebook, what you see in Matt P’s is your (racist and/or xenophobic) moral. It doesn’t matter that operationally Matt P is proposing something very different in practice because they share the same sentiment of “less”. But it does matter that Matt P has put in some serious effort and produced something that is respectable, well done, competent and professional. But policy is also a solution, so what is actually going on is the normalisation of the problem, i.e. immigration. And what this normalisation means is that it becomes mundane to be thinking about immigration as the problem.

          Now, in my previous post I suggested several things (this one has run wild with point 1) and came to the major conclusion that the sentiment “[current policy around] immigration is concerning” is not better explained by “our policy is actually problematic” when the competing explanation is “xenophobia”. Here I should expand a bit on this point. Obviously, there are very real stresses being experienced, but the problem (and hence the actual solution) to these is not immigration. Rather, the issue is that the Government didn’t really do anything to deal with the Brain Drain (you know, other than mucking about with student loans) and that what it should have done in that context is also what would have resolved this problem now. In other words, the issue is that no-one did anything and the population has grown (which it probably would have done anyway so we’re just having this conversation some years earlier than otherwise).

          Let’s put it this way, you have a choice: frame the issue in a way that generates solutions for the current state and the predicted state or frame the issue in a way that (maybe) relieves issues now, validates racist attitudes and does absolutely nothing for the predicted state. I suggest that to be comfortable with the latter option is to be xenophobic, even if you don’t mean to be so. I suggest this in addition to the inference from before. That is, before I was saying you have to consider how we’re talking about immigration as xenophobic and I am saying now that because of the cultural capital of xenophobic positions the meaning of all changes is xenophobic (regardless of intent).

          Incidentally, you see the problem, right? The parties that would actually do something about the material efforts are either unambiguously xenophobic or are possibly so but even if they aren’t voting for them would bring the most prominent rabid dog into power as well. And the parties that aren’t morally despicable are the ones responsible for the current bind and who show every sign of continuing in this vein. (Let us not dwell on the damage to brand NZ that comes from implementing a Littlian vision or of the interplay of mentality and reality, i.e. if something is illegal or legal you’re going to be more likely to have your moral view align with whichever is the case.)

          So, no, I don’t think it’s simplistic at all. I think it requires a fair amount of thought to understand why one can’t just say what one intends because the outcome is invariably not one what one means.

          And on open borders? It’s fallacious to equate “lots of immigration is good” with open borders. There is a difference between lots of immigration and mass migration (which is rather what one suspects would happen with open borders). The defining feature is that the latter overwhelms capacities and functions whereas the former does not (and has not). Imagine if tomorrow Australia booted out all NZ citizens… that’s immigration without control and it’s specious to suggest they’re equivalent.

  11. While I’m here.
    We need to get real as a city / country.
    I was glad to see the settlement that the aged care workers got. Ridiculously underpaid.
    But how bout all our other vital key workers, in education, healthcare,social services.
    All these areas need to be paid more…..or……the government needs to start building ‘key worker housing’.
    I’m sure paying people more would be a lot more efficient than building a lot more housing…..
    I know 2 teachers and 3 health care workers who have left Auckland in the last 6 months. Their skills are transferable to places with far lower cost of living, and they get paid the same.
    Forget about traffic, Auckland is on a socio-economic precipice

    1. Workers in London get paid more than elsewhere in the UK to reflect the higher cost of living. Inevitable and long overdue for that to happen for Auckland.

    2. Quite right, Matt. All the work that we actually need has been undervalued, while the superfluous stuff, like banking and insurance is well-paid. (No offence meant to anyone in particular – just an overall assessment of where society’s values are lying.)

      1. I don’t think many people realise quite how precarious this city is in a socio-economic sense. Probably 50-60% of the teachers at my daughter’s school are no more than 4-5 years away from retirement.
        I was chatting to a guy yesterday – a boomer who got his house in the mid 1990s when housing was affordable – who was incredulous when I said that Auckland was really really expensive AND paid fairly poorly by international standards. He just didn’t get it, because he is nearly mortgage free( and only paying $400 pw on his mortgage). I think there are a lot of people who are like that, through no real fault of their own (just ignorant). Of course some really don’t care as well and not interested in the plight of a growing number of Aucklanders on struggle street

        1. The April PPTA journal includes a chart showing the increasing %age of teachers aged over 60 and the decreasing %age of teachers aged under 30. That is for the whole of NZ. Auckland will be even worse. Pretty scary. You might be able to see it on their fb page (I’m not on fb so I don’t know.)

          One boomer replied to me the other day: “Oh, it was hard for us buying houses, too.” Laughable, really.

        2. Houses in the 70s? did not need to be consented to be fair also, anyone could build a house rather than just registered builders. The timber was locally sourced so was easy and cheap for country to produce and the standards so much lower such as insulation ventilation systems. Septic tanks and storm-water tanks were legal and accepted. I think a few people started with a basic shell and added to it in the weekends with their mates. Perfect life really.

          Councils now have plethora of building codes and restrictions to “bring us into the 21st century.”

          Rodney Hide was exhausted when he realised the costs of meetings standards in most industries stopped their real viability

          This hype media makes us want more and more controls and its ridiculous. Let people build leaking homes if they really want, Consent should be cheap, fast ans simply to ensure there is no risk to the public.

    3. When the median Auckland house price is well over 10 times the maximum secondary teacher salary then it is clear there is a major problem.

  12. Matt my understanding of political decision makers to do with economics is that they use money to solve most social issues; such as tax and allowances and don’t get involved with providing the actual solutions of need i.e housing / food as I have heard this is more effective and effecient. In my mind I think this is overly simplistic of the joining of economy and society and it would be good to start providing the basics of life from the state.

    To me this is a more real way, of giving people the life basics as you say build state houses and be honest about this and not think the magic free market will make houses for poor people now.

    Get a Ministry of works and provide NZ citizens with the basics of human survival. And a universal allowance may be an idea. Setup State electricity again, Homes, Farms, PT.

    1. Not sure about all your suggestions but overall this blog seems to be a pretty big supporter of more state housing. If not for any other reason, then surely “because nobody else is going to build enough houses quick enough”.

    2. yep agree. Bring back the MOW!!! We’ve had one big disastrous neo-liberal experiment that is finally catching up with us in terms of its issues

  13. Two CLASS SYSTEM IS HERE IN NZ now.. It cannot be stopped and should not be – its too late. Let the rich be rich and the poor be poor. Let us enjoy being rich and let the poor enjoy being poor, else we all wastes energy and time.

  14. Pies? Who ate all the Pies, Troll? You say some almost sensible things, and then come out with “Let people build leaking homes if they really want,” and a real ripper “Let us enjoy being rich and let the poor enjoy being poor”.

    Sorry, I’ve got not time for that nonsense. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  15. What many people, including the author of this article, do not get is that the demand effect of immigration -for public and private goods, is greater than the supply effect of increased labour in the short to medium term. Ask any economist -it is a well known fact.

    It is completely illogical to suggest that the solution to the problem of not building enough new homes for Auckland’s increasing population is to open the gate wider for even more people to come to the city…. because Auckland needs immigrants to build more houses…. ignoring the issue that most immigrants are not skilled construction workers and even worse ignoring the demand effects that immigration booms bring.

    This argument can easily be tested to absurdity, by asking this counterfactual question -if increasing immigration is the solution to Auckland’s housing crisis and infrastructure deficit, why doesn’t the government have an open door immigration policy to solve Auckland’s growing problems? Surely if a little immigration is helpful for fixing infrastructure and housing deficits then a lot of immigration would be even more helpful?

    1. Perhaps we could keep immigration number constant but increase the share of immigrants who are skilled construction workers. Perhaps through a ‘point system’ to acquire visas with bonus points for ‘critical skills’?

  16. Brendonharre.. Say tuned for the debate. would suggest what you say is actually already known but readers witters of this blog there are some other considerations to take into account. If I get time I will reply to you specifically

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