This is a guest post by Daphne Lawless. Like all Guest Posts it does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Greater Auckland. 

Greater Auckland often posts Guest Posts on Urban Issues such as Housing and Transport from all sides. We welcome all submissions and encourage people to submit on these issues.

When Andrew Little’s Labour Party put out its latest piece of Winston Peters-lite nonsense on immigration. I hoped to be able to oblige sooner. But the fact is, I’ve been too damned angry. Angry that Labour has simply abandoned not only migrant communities, but those of us who consider immigration to be a good thing on balance.

It was only a few months ago when the news was full of the plight of Indian students brought to Aotearoa/New Zealand, who were deported after their immigration agents were found to have used phony documents to get them into the country. These were people studying to learn useful skills, paying $30,000 for the privilege – a fortune where they came from. But at the same time, they were doing honest work of the kind that “native Kiwis” usually turn their nose up at – shift work in fast food and security. Although they sought sanctuary in an Auckland church and many activists rallied to their defense, they still had to leave the country.

Foreign students paying too much for substandard courses in this country, and finding themselves exploited by unscrupulous employers and shady immigration agents is a serious problem which must be dealt with. In a move worthy of Alice in Wonderland, however, the Labour Party has decided that the problem of foreign students being exploited is… to exclude them altogether. That’s “destroying the village in order to save it” levels of stupidity, or cynicism.

Labour’s immigration policy, released on June 12, proudly anticipates cutting 20,000-30,000 migrants to New Zealand every year by reducing the number of courses students can get visas to study in this country, and by making it harder for those students who are admitted to get work visas. So: Andrew Little wants to tell us that it would have been better for everyone if the Indian deportees had not been allowed into the country in the first place, and, if they had, they shouldn’t have been able to support themselves. A more outrageous form of victim-blaming could scarcely be imagined.

Looking at the bare figures, the policy might not seem that outrageous in the broader scheme of things. Certainly not by looking at the introduction to the policy, which almost makes sense:

“We have always welcomed migrants to our country, and will continue to do so. But in recent years our population has been growing rapidly as record numbers of migrants arrive here. This has happened without the Government planning for the impact immigration is having on our country. After nine years, National has failed to make the necessary investments in housing, infrastructure, and public services that are needed to cope with rapid population growth. This has contributed to the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to the congestion on roads.”

The problem is – if you don’t mind the mixed metaphor – if you look at this paragraph more closely, you can really hear the dog-whistles. One by one:

  1. The population argument. Labour is here conflating “rapid population growth” with “immigration”. As Greater Auckland and its predecessors have never ceased to remind us, though, the two are not the same thing. There is such a thing as natural increase – “native Kiwis” have babies and don’t die as young as they used to. In a post in 2015, this blog reported that:

In recent decades, natural population increase – i.e. people having babies – has been the biggest source of growth. Net migration is important, but it can be quite volatile – surging up and then crashing back.

We further pointed out that:

History shows that shutting off the migration tap has never led to a better, more vibrant city or more opportunity for residents. It’s simply been a sign of failure.

… New Zealand has a strong feedback loop between net migration and economic growth. When growth prospects get worse – as they did in the 1970 and 1980s – it dissuades people from coming here and encourages Kiwis to leave for greener pastures. This in turn worsens growth prospects by sucking consumer demand out of the economy and reducing perceived household wealth (i.e. lowering house prices).

  1. The infrastructure argument. Labour are absolutely right that the current Government have not made the necessary investment in infrastructure – or, rather, they keep making bad choices in infrastructure, like being prepared to spend up big on the truck driver’s Christmas present known as the East-West Link while dickering for ages over vital rail infrastructure like the CRL or the Westfield-Wiri third line. But this argument has nothing to do with immigration. Massive investment in infrastructure is needed to drag New Zealand into being an economy fit for all its people in the 21st century, whether our population grows by a lot or by a little, by natural increase or by migration.
  2. The “taking our jerbs” argument. Labour’s concern about “work visas being abused to fill low-skill, low-paid jobs” raises more questions than it answers. Are they saying that low-skill, low-paid jobs should be reserved for New Zealanders? More seriously, the reason why migrants end up in such jobs is due to employer prejudice – sometimes because of less proficiency in the English language, sometimes due to blatant racism, sometimes due to immigrants not knowing their legal rights or having union representation. These are all problems which face New Zealand-born workers as well, particularly Māori and Pasefika communities. The answer to them are to enforce our workplace laws more effectively, and empower workers to join unions to fight for their own rights – not to remove some people’s rights to work here altogether. It almost sounds like crackpot right-wing ideas of kicking women out of the workforce to create full employment for men.
  3. Our immigration system is already cruel. Lenny Henry once said that giving the British police more powers was like putting a spear on the end of a Cruise missile. The same thing could be said about making New Zealand’s immigration scheme more exclusionary. The current “points” system is looked on with envy by right-wing parties in England who would love something like that to keep foreign workers out in their post-Brexit utopia – ask any actual skilled migrant to this country how tough it was to get in. Recently, a blind 5 year old has been slated for deportation for being a “burden” on our health system – much like Indian students take all those juicy low-paid jobs, I suppose. And we want to make this tougher?

What this all boils down to is that refusing more people the chance to live and work in this country – in Little’s dehumanizing metaphor, “taking a breather from immigration” – will not bring down house prices, improve infrastructure, create more jobs or higher wages, or any of those things which Labour is trying to imply they will. But I honestly don’t think even Labour expect them too. They are simply trying to appeal to that section of the population who think immigration is a Bad Thing in and of itself. At least, since I don’t hear complaints about Australians, Britons or South Africans driving up house prices or clogging the Northwestern Motorway, these people think that some kinds of immigration are a bad thing.

I don’t know whether it’s worse to think that Labour really believe this nonsense, or are cynically pretending to to appeal to xenophobes and racists. Gordon Campbell reckons that they noticed Shane Jones and NZ First getting mileage from bashing foreign students at the 2014 election, and they want a piece of that action.

Over in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party – while still losing the election, mind – managed to increase their vote markedly by breaking with so much of the cross-party neoliberal consensus of previous years. But sadly, I don’t think New Zealand Labour are following the lead of their British counterparts. There are both left-wing and right-wing versions of appealing to a populist bloc. And Little’s immigration policy is taking the latter option. It’s more Trumpist than Corbynite.

In October last year, Green Party leader James Shaw floated a similar trial balloon, calling for immigration to be capped at 1% of the total population. Thankfully, Shaw has recently withdrawn that policy and apologized for it – though Green activists still, worryingly often, express neo-Malthusian hand-wringing about “carrying capacity”. But with MANA leader Hone Harawira recently calling for the execution of Chinese meth producers (specifically Chinese ones, mind), it looks like most of the left-of-National spectrum in this country has decided that nasty foreigners are the problem.

Have they, honestly? Or have they simply decided that migrant baiting gets votes? It works for Winston Peters every election year, we all know. And it’s a way to differentiate themselves from the comfortable corporate-cosmopolitans of the National Party. But as one astute commentator said on Twitter, “people vote for the shout, not the echo”. We already have a party of nostalgia for a zero-growth, low diversity New Zealand with a hang ‘em flog ‘em approach to law’n’order – it’s New Zealand First. Why would the rest of the electoral spectrum think there’s space for any more?

It increasingly looks to young, left-leaning New Zealanders who want to live in a diverse, exciting, growing country that Labour doesn’t see any point in appealing to us. One such young Kiwi told me recently that, when he confronted a Labour activist with his concern, the reply was a “sod off, we don’t need your vote anyway” attitude – quite similar to the contempt in which the older conservative left held Generation Zero and younger activists at the Auckland local body elections. The biggest difference between the Corbyn and Trump phenomena is that one tries to build a populist upsurge on the hopes of the young – the other, on the fears of the old. In the short term, the latter may be more electorally effective. But in the short term only.

Daphne Lawless is a freelance worker, married with a young daughter, living in Auckland. She is a regular writer for the socialist magazine Fightback.

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166 comments

  1. “But at the same time, they were doing honest work of the kind that “native Kiwis” usually turn their nose up at – shift work in fast food and security”.

    Wow, straight out of the National Party/ACT Boys Own Adventure annual 1955 edition. Bill English and John Key would be soooo proud of you. Where’s the drugged up young New Zealander lies to round it off nicely?

    You have a crack at Labour for generalisations, I suggest clues in your writing suggests you miss your blatant hypocrisy. I don’t want to prick your leafy urban bubble but plenty of Kiwis are willing to work for shit money, with utterly uncertain hours just to live.

    “It increasingly looks to young, left-leaning New Zealanders who want to live in a diverse, exciting, growing country that Labour doesn’t see any point in appealing to us”. Again who the hell wrote that, David Farrar? What is growth without a roof over your head? I guess you see it as bloody exciting picking which park to live in for the night!

    “These were people studying to learn useful skills” It has been established that a number of these “courses” in Godzone were wastes of time and money. They were part of the scam.

    Sorting out immigration scams and anyone who has worked with people scammed like this know it is, is not a legitimate, ethical or moral way of running a country. Dodgy student schemes where people rip people off is not something we should sweep under the carpet. And what an envious reputation we get as a country for participating in such dishonesty.

    Nor is Auckland’s underwhelming infrastructure and housing problems something we can live with.

    I know Nationals unofficial immigration policies to cap the labour market of cost rises and give a facade of growth do a fine job of putting out any criticism but reading this diatribe really takes the cake.

    Lady, you vote National or ACT, you love them, but plenty of us don’t.

    1. I liked working in ushering & security, even retail isn’t that bad my problem was have trouble standing to long had to often take panadol just to get through day otherwise I didn’t mind it.

      Hospitality was shit though if any sector needs better labour rules enforcement it is that so many HSEQ violations & bullying rampant.

      1. Hospitality is a shocker, double shifts, few if any breaks, routine under payment and yes bullying managers. Definitely know what you mean and no, treating migrant workers like that because they think they can get away with it does not justify anything!

        1. Which is where I think Daphne was angling – No assumptions around naivety or how justified the situation is, just acknowledging that those who feel they have a choice (“Kiwis”*) will turn down that exploitation. That means those who are trying to work their way through study (or points for residency) don’t have a realistic choice other than allowing themselves to be exploited.

          * Kiwis in quotes because to me, that term applies to anybody who identifies as such, regardless of if there were born here or not.

      1. Not from what I read, in fact it reeks of neoliberal propaganda.

        And I’m not a priviileged academic socialist.

        1. I don’t know Daphne personally but it is pretty clear from all the comments she has made on previous posts that she does NOT support either ACT or National.

        2. “leafy urban”? “academic”? We have here anti-elitist virtue signalling combined with aggressively speaking FOR the poor (arguing that “some people” – not Waspman himself – want migrants out so they stop competing for low wage jobs) plus “neoliberal” as the ultimate swear word. This is a classic example of the Mike Lee-type conservative leftism which I’ve previously called out (https://fightback.org.nz/2016/10/19/aucklands-no-choice-elections-blue-greens-and-conservative-leftists/).

          BTW there are some trees in Mt Albert, but there are also some trees in Mangere, so what is meant by this “leafy”?

    2. Funny, former National leader Dr Don Brash has only today been quoted saying that immigration is causing us all sorts of problems: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/early-edition/audio/don-brash-lower-level-of-immigration-better-for-nz-workers/. I don’t think you can assume Act voters are for mass immigration (I am not). Brash’s argument against immigration is very sensible. Our productivity in this country is simply not good enough and current immigration is simply plastering over the cracks. So my point is that just because people on the right of politics doesn’t mean they have to support unfettered immigration.

      1. Unfettered immigration is the position of the Trotskite Socialist Worker left and the extreme libertarian right. Those in the middle asking for moderation are mangled from both sides (reminds me of the way the vast majority in Northern Ireland were moderates when I was young and the troubles broke out – maybe a majority but soon they were crushed by the zealots).

    3. +1 Waspman. This rant of putrid spew from Daphne really should have been edited by the mods (yes there is a disclaimer that it doesn’t represent the views of GA).

      I particularly take issue with the point where she blames Kiwis have children. Kiwis have always had children and it hasn’t caused issues in the past compared to now – the difference? we are letting in over 1% of our population pa in the form of immigrants which is at record levels historically and compared to our international peers. Without such high levels it would be reasonable for infrastructure to catch up to the population.
      Speaking of infrastructure – yes we need rail/PT etc and the EWL is a waste of money. Why do you think the EWL project is being promoted? It’s because our motorways and roads are clogged with traffic (much of it due to the huge population growth in Auckland from immigrants). PT would do far more to sort this out however with such rapid rates of growth projects like the EWL are seen by the politicians as easy wins (despite the cost), with slower rates of population growth there would be less pressure on infrastructure so longer term projects like rail would be more appealing than the quick fix “solution”. There has never been an official government survey or referendum actually asking the public what level of population growth they would like and what sort of immigration they would like. I think you would find if they actually did this an overwhelming majority of people would say they would like less immigration and that they would prefer highly skilled migrants from developed countries as opposed to hordes of low skilled, culturally very different immigrants from the likes of India and China.
      The way the world is going with technology we will not be needing many low-skilled workers as many of these jobs will be replaced with automation – so why are we letting so many in? There are plenty of unskilled and unemployed right here in NZ already that could do with some training and work prospects. End of the day if there are jobs that struggle to get people to do then they need to improve their workplace conditions and wages (there might not be that many kiwis wanting to flip burgers for $15p/h but there would certainly be a lot more at $17p/h). We have over 100,000 people that are capable and able to work which aren’t but easily could with a little bit of assistance. Likewise the government would be wise to even consider subsidising some of these people into jobs (e.g. company pays $10 p/h the government pays the other $7 p/h to take that unemployed person on. Costs the government $280 per week -which is effectively less than what they currently pay out in unemployment benefit and supplements. That person is then doing something productive in the economy and socially it has other benefits of breaking the unemployment inter-generational cycle).

      She has highlighted the plight of students (particularly from India). If these courses were actually legitimate and not being used as a backdoor scam method to gain permanent residency for low skilled migrants from places like India then would have some sympathy. In reality it is well known throughout the industry and by the “students” themselves that it is a sham and really just a method to get permanent residency. National does nothing about it because they like the idea of having an almost unlimited source of cheap labour to suppress wages for most people in this country except their elite buddies.

      “Our immigration system is cruel” oh diddums! Immigration is a privilege not a right! It is for the benefit of the country not the individual (although the individual usually benefits greatly from it).

      1. I like your idea of us voters being asked. That is radical and has never been tried.
        NZ doesn’t needs more Brits like myself, nor Canadians or Americans – as diverse as possible is my preference but we must have immigrants who earn above the average wage (they don’t at present) otherwise we are importing poverty.
        The dept of Immigration has always had quotas by country for working holiday visas – they should do the same for permanent residency – it would hit my country and China, India, Philipines and maybe South Africa but given the skills we would get Nepalese, Botswanans, Paraguayans, etc – it would be like having an OE without actually flying.

      2. The only aspect of your comment that I’m going to address is the job loss to automation.

        High and low skilled jobs alike are at risk of being automated into history (or, at the very least, becoming niche jobs). Actuaries and accountants are at risk. Software engineers are at risk. Burger flippers are at risk. In short, if somebody has the brains to automate a job (or substantial aspect of it), that job is at risk – It doesn’t matter what skill level the role is.

        1. That is true Jon_K however those that are highly skilled/educated tend to be more mobile in terms of changing jobs so it will affect them less.

          1. Only to an extent. Definitely true for software engineers for the time being, not so for insurance actuaries (an incredibly complex and specific job), as NZ is a very small market.

            Unless by changing jobs you include changing career, which is what I did a little over a year ago. Not due to automation (however I saw that it was only a matter of time before I became embroiled in a race to the bottom, salary wise).

            For some enlightening/scary reading, one insurer has replaced 30% of their claim adjusters and another company replaced their 1st line service desk staff: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450410454/Robots-replace-staff-at-Japanese-insurance-firm

            From that article according to Deloitte, all sectors of the UK economy will be affected by automation in the next 20 years, with 74% of jobs in transportation and storage, 59% of jobs in wholesale and retail, and 56% of jobs in manufacturing having a high chance of being automated.

  2. So the choice this election is between obsessive road building (& dodgy political smears) at the expense of all else (national) vs rasict anti immigration populism (the rest to varying degrees). Just wow.

    1. ATM seems the most likely outcome is you’ll get both. NZF + Nat.

      The only party with good transport and immigration policy at this point seems to be Green. A strong Green vote would at least temper the influence of NZF.

    1. I assume because the Editors thought the issue of migration, and Labour’s stance in particular, was relevant to Auckland.

  3. Thank you Daphne. This post, and its many links, have given me a lot of information to think over. These issues need to be discussed and a more caring way forward found, both in planning for a better Auckland, and for nation-wide evolution into a better society.

    Recent and not-so-recent immigrants enrich my life and my children’s lives on a daily basis, with cousins and friends from different cultures.

    I would prefer if immigrants coming from developing countries with poor labour conditions were those in the most need – exploited workers seeking a better life – not the business owners who had possibly succeeded because of the exploitative labour system. Hence, I think our immigration business category needs a shakeup. Last time I looked you needed a million dollars – which barely gets you into the housing market in Auckland, let alone allows you to inject some funds into a business venture.

    I would prefer if dodgy bribes were not part of the process, as people who are willing to pay bribes and play the system do not promise a better citizenry for the future.

    As to who to vote for, far out. Choosing a candidate will be easier than choosing a party.

    However, I challenge anyone to read “Struggle Without End” and think that our immigration policy shouldn’t simply be handed over to Maori to decide.

    1. I’m very ignorant – I will have to look up “Struggle without end”. Meanwhle have you read the article “New Zealand Immigration and the Political Economy” by Ranginui Walker?

      1. Will do, may be a quicker read than his “Struggle Without End” book. The clarity with which he describes Maori ongoing attempts to get fairer treatment should make compulsory reading, but it is a lengthy book.

        1. From my limited experience he sure writes well. I will order from the library (one of the great joys of Auckland – of course any library is better than none but our libraries are way the best I’ve seen after living in fur other countries).

  4. Most people forget that they were pretty damm hopeless too when they were young. Who puts us right it was the older people in the work force who trained us up.
    I have recently retired but I spent the last 10 years training up Indian students I could just have easily spent my time doing the same thing for young kiwis. And the Indian students didnt come to work on time and soon got the hang of how to use up all there sick leave the minute it appeared on their time sheet. And its a waste of effort as they leave when they finish their studies.
    10 years ago the courier industry was staffed by Maori and our Pacific Island brothers but they have now being chased out by recent immigrants.
    A lot has being said about homelessness but it is not the immigrants who are living in their cars at Bruce Mccellen park in Papakura. Maori and PI make up the bulk of the homeless.
    Paapatoetoe has become a suburb for immigrants the Maori and Pacific people have being pushed further out. A lot of the increase in trips on the rail from here is foreign students going to their classes in foreign owned schools in the CDB. I dont believe that has a lot of value for our country. Its a foreign enclave.
    Its better not too lure people here with the expectation that they will be able to stay then have to go through the whole drama of deporting them. Just don’t bring them here in the first place.

    1. Right. So you (1) complain about people leaving when they finish studying, and (2) argue they should not be allowed to come so we don’t have to deport them later.

      Do you see the tension here? If they leave voluntarily, then they can’t be deported.

      1. They either leave after they get Perm residency or leave when they go back home. Either way its a waste of time. Better to train up locals.

        1. If they leave anyway what’s the problem with migration?

          And if they leave anyway then why dont employers just hire people that they think will stay? Or offer higher wages to keep them?

          If employers keep hiring these people, perhaps it’s because they can’t get anyone else? As per this article:
          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11890119

          Soooo many problems with your logic i don’t know where.to start!

          P.s. this post is about migration, not the merits of training locals vis-a-via migrants. I suggest we get back on topic.

          1. You can worry about logic you get one vote I get one that’s what counts in Sept. Students should not be able to work.

        2. It was obviously not a waste of time as it gave you a salary for 10 years.
          “Better to train up locals”? So what didn’t you? You got quite a time to turn that around.

          But maybe if there were only locals to train, there will be less work for trainers.
          Migrants, even temporary ones, either studying or working, helps support economy, pay immigration, pay landlords, pay small and big NZ businesses, pay taxes they won’t even benefit from.
          You’re very welcome.

          1. The company was Indian owned the boss said at one stage that’s it no more Indian students but I think they were just happier having them just as I would have being happier with having Kiwis. I think the company would be in a better position if they had had more Kiwis.

  5. Thanks for your article Daphne. I may have missed it but it would be good to see some data to support your thesis regarding the lies being told about immigration. I see the anecdotals from the media you’ve noted.

    Cheers.

  6. Dear Daphne,

    Thank you for the post.

    I personally was disheartened by Labour’s position on migration. They’ve taken what appears to be the populist option. The unfortunate thing, as you note, is that migration is not the cause of the problems we face and nor will cutting migration help us solve the problems.

    In fact, and as you note, cutting migration may make it harder to invest in the infrastructure we need. One of the key reasons the NZ government has been running higher than predicted surpluses is because of higher than predicted migration.

    I would prefer if we kept the latter while spending more of the surplus on the things we need. Like infrastructure and housing.

    Signed,
    A sad social democrat with liberal tendencies.

    1. They are also running surpluses because of significant underspending on core public services like the police, health, education, conservation, etc. Any fool can do that!

      1. Healthcare spending has grown at greater than the rate of population growth and inflation since National came into power in 2008.

        Totally agree regarding conservation though. To effectively freeze spending in an area that is so closely tied to tourism when tourism is booming and generating increasing GST is madness.

      2. Nope. Spending cuts aren’t random; they’re planned and budgeted for in advance.

        So when you see budget forecasts underestimating the surplus, it’s more likely to be caused by more migration than spending cuts IMO. Of course there’s other sources of variability but spending cuts are usually built into figures.

        It may be due to underspending, although that tends to be cyclical and wash out. Whereas we’ve experienced a pattern of consistent upwards revisions to surpluses.

        Try and take an open mind on this issue: I’m sure you’re wrong at least 1% of the time ;).

      3. P.s. i suspect you might benefit from reading my first comment more carefully. Specifically,i didn’t claim migration was responsible for the surplus itself, but for the *surplus being higher than predicted*. Its this positive error that has been a common feature in recent budgets that i would tend to attribute to migration but i could be wrong.

  7. What a load of codswallop – there are a lot of young NZers who are looking for part time work (often because they are studying) but there is SO much competition from foreign students doing the same thing. And take a look at our health services – my wife is a healthcare worker and workload has increased massively in the past 5 years with no real increase in funding – and she tells me that the bulk of the patient workload is immigrant families. If we’re going to have high immigration, we need to increase funding to match, which means NOT having tax cuts and actually spending some money. I don’t see National offering any sort of relief for our public services.

    1. I understand the bulk of the increase in government spending on health and welfare is associated with the ageing population.

      But if the load migrants place on the healthcare system is a problem then that can surely be managed in other ways? Like screening applications and requiring private health insurance.

      Basically, even if i accept that migrants place a higher load on the health system, Labour’s policy doesn’t seem to be appropriate.

      Other point: you have to look at total fiscal impacts. Migrants may, for example, have less demand for education and police services. Main point: I think this is more complicated than Labour and many others suggest.

      1. I often hear this total fiscal impact theory. I arrived healthy and in no need of education but now I am retired and have health issues. A theory based on nobody getting older or unhealthy is stupid.

    2. This is the “lump of labor” fallacy. There are not “so many jobs to go around” and we all compete for them. A greater population means more spending therefore more jobs available. Every job done by a migrant creates wealth which can be used to create another job. If the jobs aren’t there blame business and government, not people who’re willing to work night shifts because it pays better than what they did at home.

    3. I’d like to call you out on that. Can you provide stats for anywhere outside of Auckland? Don’t conflate Auckland issues with national issues.

      I can only speak for Hawke’s Bay, they have seasonal workers from overseas. They also have a lot of local students in those roles. For non-seasonal work, there are SFA recent (as in, less than a decade ago) immigrants there, so they’re not a realistic source of competition. Also, the two largest groups of immigrants are Indian and (I think) Nigerian. A friend’s mother works to advocate for the Indian workers who, all too often, are taken advantage of by local businesses run by their own countrymen (that’s not to say that european-heritage business owners are innocent, just under-represented in HB). I’ve no idea what the Nigerians do, as I’ve never seen any of them in retail.

      Your wife sees a lot of “immigrant patients” because Auckland has a very high percentage of it’s population born overseas. I’m assuming that she’s basing that judgment on English skills – just because a person has been here for decades, doesn’t mean that they have good English. I know a person who came here from Hong Kong in 1983, owned a successful fast food business for many years and still doesn’t have great English.

  8. Great post Daphne! One thing I would disagree with though is your comment ‘Are they saying that low-skill, low-paid jobs should be reserved for New Zealanders?’. I don’t think this is the case at all. The problem with pumping migrants into low-skilled. low-paid positions it that it increases the supply of workers for these positions, which allows wages to remain low.

    Businesses of course love this, which is why they are generally the most prominent supporters of immigration. Consumers also like it as it keeps costs down. I would argue that this is actually harmful – if we were to reduce the supply of these workers it would force employers to pay more, or innovate with automation etc. Either way we win – our low-paid workers are better off or we continue to advance as a society by innovating and finding solutions to problems.

    1. An issue I didn’t touch on was the way qualified migrants end up in those low-paid jobs because of racism. Sometimes blatant, sometimes “your English isn’t good enough”, sometimes “you don’t have Kiwi experience”. We’re talking about people with Masters degrees getting off the plane from Bangladesh or Iran and stacking shelves. But if they were taking jobs they were qualified for, people like Waspman would get even angrier.

      1. Yup, this is my experience. Two Kiwi-born engineers in the last consultancy I worked for – my boss and me. The other 13 or so employees were immigrants the boss had lifted from working in minimum wage fast-food outlets and the like. Highly experienced architects and engineers, but for many of them, my boss could only employ them as draftspeople. Still, it was a foot in the door and I admire him for it. I didn’t see anyone else in the industry doing it. These immigrants hadn’t been able to get work in other firms because they didn’t have local experience – catch 22.

        And BTW, one of these immigrants moved to Australia because his doctor wife found it really difficult to find work here – easier in Australia. Another went to Australia for other reasons. The others are all still here, with children who consider themselves Kiwis, and are contributing to our society and economy.

      2. In the last 10 years only 27% of the half million approved for residency were principal applicants in the skilled category. The other 73% being family and humanitarian; many of these will be as, if not more, qualified than the ‘skilled’ applicant (you should meet my wife for example!) but many are not and it is they we find at the checkout. And you have to realise skilled includes remarkably large numbers of bakers and chefs among the university lecturers.

      3. You’re right, this is something that has largely disappeared from discussion of immigration recently.

        I’ve been involved in recruiting for a number of highly skilled positions. Many skilled and specialist roles (such as mine) require strong communication skills, so I think there are often genuine reasons for not hiring people with weak English communication skills. However, we view experience outside of NZ as a positive, a diverse range of experiences is valuable.

        1. Yeah funny you should say that – I used to work for a very large company, we employed anybody who had the technical skills to do the job (a remarkably small number of applicants actually passed our practical exams).

          As there was a lot of verbal communication involved, the applicant had to be “understandable” when speaking. This is where it got interesting. Sometimes our team would be _mostly_ East-Asian, other times Indian and on occasion South African. What I found is that while I had _zero_ trouble understanding any of my colleagues, we received complaints about their accents. More interesting is that we didn’t get many complaints from Wlg and only a few more from Chch. It was the smaller areas that were over-represented in the complaint stats (we had just under 100 sites).

          I’m no psychologist but I’d hazard a guess that the faceless confrontation with somebody who isn’t “of our tribe” made the callers uncomfortable (even if only on a subconscious level). The conscious acting out of this discomfort is the complaints about their accent. This is based upon my own observations.

          🙂

          1. re the accents, very interesting. I suspect it would be that people from these areas are just not used to “interpreting an accent”. I personally find the more you interact with groups/someone with a strong accent the more you can understand them. These smaller areas would have less immigrant people so would not be used to interacting with them. Have a neighbour with a VERY strong scottish accent, could understand about 1 word in 5 to begin with but now just the odd word gets lost in translation.

          2. I have been married to a Japanese woman for 20 years. We have lived in smaller places in NZ, and also bigger cities.
            I’ve always found it very noticeable that – generally speaking, not a universal rule –
            people in smaller places struggle with my wife’s accent much more than in the bigger cities.
            My theory is that this is due to combination of lack of exposure to non-native English speaking people, and sometimes (sadly) bigotry.

  9. Matt:I disagree with you. Before you put me in the racist camp I am an immigrant (2003) and brought my multi-ethnic family (Melanesian) with me. My wife had trouble getting interviews for a job until she adopted my name and son has been called “Nigger” twice that I know of and probably far more often than that. When I lived in London I joined protest marches against the racist attacks that killed Stephen Lawrence.

    I still disagree with you and if you would make the effort to actually talk to Chinese and Indian immigrants who have been here for a few years you will hear the same story. It can be summed up as immigration is good in moderation but like paracetamol an excess is dangerous.

    I will not discuss the politics – that is a long discussion. This blog should be about immigration and the success of Auckland. But I must say I am amazed that you can be so heartless about the low paid – my son has just started working as a building apprentice and unlike school which he hated he loves his first job. I want him to grow older living in an Auckland where he can afford to buy a home and raise a family. I have a friend who have did this forty years ago – just a competent chippie all his life who owned his own home, raised 4 kids, went fishing, attended church and did charity work. If my son works for 3rd world wages he will never be able to do this. So I am selfish – I don’t care if your latte costs more or your childcare costs more I just don’t want to see 3rd world wages in NZ.

    Secondly you must read Prof Stringer’s report on Widespread worker exploitation (Auckland uni december 2016). My vote goes to whoever sorts that out first – at present Labour with its increased Labour Inspectorate or TOP.

    Immigration in NZ. If you believe in an open door system then you should say so and indicate the probable results. If not then you ought to have a rough target in mind. For example Prof Paul Spoonley like Andrew Little thinks about 1% is correct; this would still leave us with the highest legal immigration in the OECD. Or adjust it to the OECD average and it would be about 0.3%.

    High immigration to NZ has been tried. It has been tried for most of the last 70 years. I have a friends who arrived in 1961 and they tell me that there were strong objections to the high numbers of Brits with a “Bash a POM today” slogan. So after 70 years of immigration mainly to Auckland what has been achieved? After our experiment with immigration NZ has gone from top to near the bottom of the OECD ranks in GDP per capita (of course with your stunning remarks about native Kiwis having to compete for low-skilled jobs maybe you don’t care).

    Obviously I love Auckland since I choose to live here but economically it is not a success compared to the other world cities listed by the OECD. The OECD rank Auckland as one of the lowest of its 80 metro cities in terms of exports, innovation and GDP per capita. It is typical of big cities to have GDP higher than the remainder of the country. In 2000 Auckland’s average GDP per capita is estimated to have been 24 per cent above that in the rest of New Zealand, by the year to March 2015, that margin had shrunk to 12 per cent.

    Is this failure because of too many immigrants (my theory) or too few (Matt L’s theory)? If Auckland had a stable population then about 2% of the infrastructure would need replacing per year; with say a 3% growth rate Auckland has to build 5% of its infrastructure each year. (Immigration in this context meaning anyone from outside of Auckland so Kiwis included). All this new infrastructure makes Auckland seem to be thriving but it is not.

    1. Bob – its great you enjoy the blog, but you have a habit of writing too much in one comment. This makes it hard for other commenters to engage with what you say. Please focus on 1-2 issues at a time and cut out unnecesary piffle-paffle.

      Your main point, i think, is that we should aim for moderate levels of immigration.

      Ok how do you define that? Definitions are important. For example, if you average migration over the last 30 years you’ll get a different answer from the last 12 months.

      And i think this is the key difference between perspectives: those who oppose migration tend to focus on last 3-5 years whereas i tend to take a longer perspective. Its not that long ago when NZ struggled to balance the books population wise, and our young people left for overseas. Now they’re staying or cominb back more often – perhaps not a bad thing even if wages are not yet where we want them?

      I don’t see why you’re right and I’m wrong on this, it seems to be a moot point. So lets discuss it!

      1. I concentrate on permanent residency – everything else gets confusing. These are the figures in thousands for the last 11 years: 46, 46, 46, 45, 40, 40, 38, 44, 43, 52. Not much variation whether labour or Nat. Immigration is not a new issue – it is the return of Kiwis that is impacting infrastructure that makes it news.

        The countries on the happiest index are the ones with the least immigrants (Iceland).

        NZ had over 13,000 partnership residents last year – you Kiwis go on your OE’s and bring wives and husbands back. Just that 13,000 would be about average total immigration for an OECD country. So lets put it at 26,000 but open for informed discussion.

        BTW why is a declining population a problem – the Japanese seem happy and their GDP per capita is increasing.

        Apologies for waffling.

        1. So if permanent residency is fairly stable then what’s the problem?

          P.s. japan is dying. The people may be happy, but its only because of extraordinary fiscal stimulus. That cant last.

          P.p.s. let’s focus on migration not population growth or happiness! Jeepers.

          1. Still can’t see why we persist with being No1 immigration per capita in the world. What do those other 200 countries know that we don’t?

            OK I’ve still not a defined ‘moderate’ to your satisfaction. So for arguments sake average per capita for the OECD.

          2. Bob – is there a link to this table which shows we have the highest levels of immigration in the OECD (which incidentally contains nowhere near 200 countries)?

          3. If Japan were your home instead of New Zealand you would…
            be 35% less likely to be unemployed
            live 3.5 years longer
            be 74% less likely to be in prison
            make 22% more money
            spend 44% more money on health care
            be 70% less likely to be murdered
            use 26% less electricity
            be 53% less likely to die in infancy

            Doesn’t seem too bad to me – all that without significant immigration!

          4. Thank you Sailor Botly. Spot on.

            Anyway, bob we’re not discussing the happiness of our other countries, but nz migration policy.

            Back on topic. BACK I SAY 🙂

          1. I use their “R1 – Residence Decisions by FY” – permanent residency seems more certain than the other figures. I never quite managed to work out the R7 figures.

            Got one thing wrong – according to the internet: “Depending upon the source you acknowledge, there may be 189, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195 or 196 independent countries in existence upon our globe today.”

      2. I reckon he’s one of the better posters on here. Also posts on interest.co.nz. Always balanced and open, never snarky or aggressive.

  10. Labour would have a really good chance of winning the next election if they positioned them self as centre as possible while offering solutions to the problems National are creating (like housing, congestion and corruption). I guess you could argue that cutting immigration is one of those solutions, but it is a very polarising solution.
    I’ve never voted National in my life, and even though I think National are doing a terrible job, I might have to vote for them in this election because Labour are just moving too far to the left for my liking. Cancelling tax cuts and increasing handouts is not going to help them win votes from the centre.

    1. People who I have spoken to are confused and disappointed about what they perceive as Labours move to the centre. They have also made voters doubt their economic credentials with the unnecessary pact with the greens when they ran surpluses when last in power and were not vulnerable there. There aren’t really any policies to distinguish them from National except maybe limited additional public spending which isn’t going to fix
      problems in social services caused by Nationals shrink the state mentality. Traditionally the policies Labour are advocating now would have been centre right a generation ago. The problems we are seeing in NZ are the logical conclusion to the policies we have run for the past 30 years. Being national lite is not going to fix the problem They may need to scare the horses or risk becoming irrelevant to those who need their help.

        1. We have free health care, free schooling, interest free student loans, welfare for those who need it, universal superannuation, working for families. Not enough?

  11. One thing in this whole ‘debate’ that gets on my nerves, is the ‘immigrants have low skilled jobs’ trope. All of the immigrants I work with came here on the skilled visa category in an area that NZ is (still) critically short of, and they have salaries well beyond most household incomes. They are not exploited or mistreated and pay far more in taxes than they take out.

    With the recent point changes, these people would not have been denied residency, and the industry would be just as short in skills (yes, maybe my salary would be higher, but so would the salaries of people unfit to be in the industry due to lack of competing skills)

    I make no comment on anything else, because I’m an immigrant and I can’t help but feel targeted by the entirety of the discussion (but don’t worry, I’m white) so I’m bound to be biased.

    1. dr – in your job/industry it might be common for there to be highly skilled immigrants earning good wages. Elsewhere it is a different story with immigrants working in low paid/low skilled jobs or jobs that really kiwis should be doing (and probably would be doing if the conditions and pay weren’t scrapping the bottom of the barrel). Do we really need immigrant real estate agents/car dealers/call centre workers/petrol station/fast food/taxis/couriers etc? I would argue no. We do however need doctors/engineers/scientists etc. There is the argument that their qualifications aren’t being accepted – well that really should have been sorted out before they immigrated – the government (NZQA) should be working out which qualifications are acceptable and try to get more acceptable (if they are up to standard of course). If they still aren’t acceptable then what is the point in letting them immigrate?

      1. If there truly is a visa class that permits completely unskilled migrants in without any consideration then we should look at that.

        My comment about my colleagues not getting in is nothing to do with their qualifications (I’m not sure yours was either, apologies if I’m conflating), it’s to do with the absolute number of points required to be eligible. This was raised in response to the indian work visa issue, as if the two were in any way related.

        https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/tools/points-indicator-smc

        But your comment is more general a discussion about the quality of visa class, not the value (or not) of immigration. I can’t tell (and this causes a lot of arguments) if people are just xenophobic or have genuine concerns because the arguments are so ambiguous and ill defined.

      1. I know – I’m one of them! My father brought his wife and three children (80% in that case), my colleague brought his wife and kids (75%). My wife is one also, through me (that’s 100% non-skills tested immigration!). My best friend (skilled visa) brought his wife, so 50% there.

        Is that statistic supposed to convince me of something?

        1. I was trying to explain why NZ has some great immigrants say as Uni lecturers and IT developers but you can’t help noticing virtually all the low paid jobs in North Shore are done by visible migrants. How can both be true at the same time? That stat help explain it. Think of two overlapping bell curves: the 27% ‘skilled’ cuts out the low performers; the 73% has no cut off so you get good and bad. [BTW my wife was a secondary applicant and she is way better qualified and has paid far more tax so my point is purely statisitical.]

          1. I guess all of my New Zealand born friends doing low skilled work on the North Shore must be invisible to men named Bob.

          2. At New World and ‘Z’ they are invisible. When my PI daughters worked at Domino Pizzas they were invisible there too. We do have some visible unemployed Kiwis living in the state houses near by; they are nice people too but unemployed or when employed as you may have noticed low skilled = low pay and it didn’t use to be that way.

      2. Do you know what proportion of these were husbands/wives and children of skilled migrants? Not sure what point there would be to measuring the skills of the children.

        1. 26.8% skilled principal applicant with 30.4% secondary applicants. There is an age grouping of all applicants so you could make a rough estimate of how many are children.
          FYI the partners of already permanent residents (I call them Kiwis) were 23.9%. Many very good people. Some collected on OE, some Russian brides and even some arranged marriages with partners from country of origin. My point is skilled immigration does have a long tail.

  12. I think most people agree that a reduction in immigration, at least temporarily, would be a good thing. Immigration while not the sole cause of all the problems in Auckland is certainly an important contributing factor to every problem you have outlined. The specious argument you seem to be making is that because reducing immigration is not a silver bullet it should not be looked at. Obviously it will form part of a range of solutions to the current issues.

    1. I don’t agree reducing migration is a good thing. I think it’s the only thing that is forcing NZ to reconsider our housing and infrastructure policies.

      Look at Auckland 2040 or whatever the hell they were called. They used population growth to argue against relaxing density controls.

      Let’s accept growth and work to accommodate it.l efficiently, imo.

      1. Fine in theory…
        How do you do that? The market cannot deliver anywhere enough homes, do you advocate for a mass subsidised housing programme (which will be very costly to the taxpayer)

    2. I disagree, it is tougher to migrate to NZ than it was in the 90s when were were battling much lower rates of immigration and a net outflow of people at times.

      If the problem is a shortage of housing then build more houses, if the problem is environmental degradation then put environmental restrictions in place. If the problem is these immigrants will make NZ a worse place in 20-30 years than it would be without them then by all means reduce immigration.

      However, I haven’t seen a coherent argument for this being the case in the 57 comments so far, it’s mostly just short term thinking.

      1. If this is an Auckland blog then it is worth pointing out how NZ regions are depopulating very, very fast and many of Auckland’s newcomers are Kiwis. There was an article predicting it in the Herald the year I arrived (2003) but as the readers of this blog may have noticed nothing much was done – plenty of talk but comparatively little action.

        1. When I moved here from HB in 2005, I was astounded at how few NZ-born folks I met were born in Auckland. I ended up assuming that if they were my age (give or take 5 years), they were most probably born outside of Auckland.

          In my last role, we had a department of around 50. For most of the time I was in that company, you could count Auckland-born in the low single digits, even if NZ-born was in the low double digits.

        2. That’s not actually true among citizens. More kiwis move from Auckland to other parts of NZ, than go the other way to Auckland. The regions may be depopulating, but not because of migration to Auckland. Probably because of migration abroad.

          Thats the biggest irony of this debate. Kiwis are the biggest bloody migrants out there. Every year 40 or 50,000 New Zealanders migrate to another country. Bloody migrants!

      2. No.

        The short term thinking is believing all is swell with high levels of immigration (and NZ is very high by international standards), without considering both the short term, mid term and long term implications.
        Obviously, immigration has benefits. But it also has costs.

        I’m not convinced at all that the benefits of high immigration outweigh the costs.

        Tell me how Auckland will:
        – House such rapid population growth
        – Educate such rapid population growth
        – Provide healthcare for such rapid population growth
        – Transport such rapid population growth….

        Without major fiscal implications:

        1. The private sector can’t and won’t provide all the housing that is required. Massive government housing programmes are required – $$$$$

        2. Many schools in Auckland are bursting at the seams. Continued high population growth is going to require redevelopment of many urban schools – $$$$$.
        Also, teaching shortages in Auckland is already becoming a pronounced issue.
        With high population growth, we will need many more teachers, and we will probably need to pay them a lot more in Auckland.

        I could go on and on.

        I realise that increasing population leads to increased tax revenue, however I doubt very much that extra revenue goes anywhere near covering the extra costs.

        Again, like a broken record – I am not anti-immigration. There are some great benefits. It is the quantum and composition (skill sets) of immigration that I believe is a very real problem.

        If you can tell me how we can realistically pay for all the infrastructure I refer to above, then I am interested to hear.

        1. The reason why NZ’s anti-immigrant wing is suddenly so keen on “facts” (i.e. record high net migration) is NZers. Or, in other words, just because National says returning NZers have caused a prolonged spike doesn’t mean it’s wrong. What it does mean is they’re trying to play smoke and mirrors because deciding to make it harder to leave was always a piss poor solution to emigration… and we now reap what they sowed, i.e. no investment or interest in housing, transport or, indeed, productivity. But just because it’s part of political trickery doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And because it’s not wrong the whole anti-immigrant narrative collapses. (see: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/Migration/international-travel-and-migration-articles/kiwi-factor-migration)

          Think of it this way… imagine if Australia kicked all NZ citizens out tomorrow. That’s nearly Wellington + Christchurch being forced back into the country. There are a hell of a lot NZers overseas, not all in Australia either, and the demise of the attractions of other countries means NZ will never exhaust the stream of people able to come back in. When you consider that Australia is where most overseas NZers are and is neither as economically attractive as it was in 2009 nor as welcoming as it was then… and then there’s the National’s “raise the switching costs” solutions that discourage departures… well, it shuld make for sobering thinking (but it doesn’t). An interesting parallel is America’s Mexico Wall* thinking. NZ doesn’t have an illegal immigration problem (and I don’t know for sure if the US does either, really), but we do have the same political problem: politicians trying to stem a flow that can’t be stemmed (without restrictions of basic human rights).

          Similarly, it is neither here nor there that NZ’s level of net migration is high relative to elsewhere. Newsflash: NZ’s here, not elsewhere. Indeed, the experience of previous levels of net migration is that in the long-term NZers will start leaving again. Because, you know, a country made of immigrants has difficulty staying in one place for more than five years. Heck, a mate of mine was here, in Oz and back again in the blink of an eye. It’s just how we are. As a country, then, our challenge is to set policies that encourage consistency. And, had the National government under Key done that? Well, we’d have some very different looking policies because the very things that encourage people to stay (good housing, good transport, good urban policies &c &c) are the very things we need more of now… and, because this will happen all over again next time NZ looks okayer than anywhere else (due to the hundreds of thousands of NZers overseas) we need to do this stuff… rather than sticking our heads in the sand going “blah blah Chinese blah blah”. (Timely reminder that since the 1860s Chinese New Zealanders have been a core part of the ethnic landscape.)

          So… tell me more about how what you’ve isolated only needs to happen due to immigration. Oh, wait, you can’t. It’s irrelevant. It needs to happen anyway. It needs to be paid for anyway. It needed to happen ten years ago. It has to happen now for the same reasons now. And let’s not get started on how the population grows without immigration (or returning NZers or otherwise). http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/mythbusters/population-growing-migration.aspx

          Oh, and by the way, in a country that needs more teachers now which produces not enough teachers in a process that takes three or four years, tell me how immigration is the problem, not the solution. Again, you can’t. (At least without having an unhealthy obsession with fraudulent charter school models.)

          Facts may be trivial (their meaning depends on the arguments in which they’re put)… but they’re always good for dealing with mistruths.

          (To be clear, while I disagree, there may be issues with immigration, the point is that these are not them. The gotcha questions we’re presented with by Matt P are tricky problems for us to face even if an ash cloud kept all aeroplanes from flying in NZ airspace and boats from leaving for the next five years. That is, they having nothing to do with immigration because they were necessary in 2008, even without however many more NZers have arrived on and been born on these shores in that near decade.)

          *The one thing that Trump has going for Trump, versus Little and Peters, is that at least he doesn’t pretend he isn’t like Trump.

          1. Well, you raise some good points, but also some which I think are debatable.
            For example, you assume that the migration turnaround will happen again ie. kiwis will start leaving in droves again.
            I’m not so sure about that, due to some key (potentially permanent) structural reasons:

            – Australia seems to have entered an apparently permanently weaker economic cycle, due to structural factors focussed around a turnaround in their resource sector fortunes
            – The UK is likely to offer less opportunity than it once did

            The one qualifying thing to say at this point is I am assuming the NZ economy remains strong-ish. If the housing ponzi collapsed, then all bets are off (and we might see a big uptick in kiwis leaving again). Having said that, if our housing ponzi collapses is it not quite likely that it would be a collapse that occurs simultaneously with an Aussie collapse (in which case the loss of jobs here would not be compensated for by job opportunities in Aus)

            I agree the need for more govt investment in housing, transport, health and education exists even without high net migration. But surely high net migration numbers exacerbate those issues, potentially quite significantly? Surely you can’t argue against that.

            I don’t disagree that immigration is part of the solution to some of the issues in terms of skills required in education, healthcare etc. My main thesis, as I have articulated, is that we need immigration. It’s just that it needs to be much more targetted into those key social service areas.

          2. You’re right, I do assume that things will follow the patterns of the past and NZers will start leaving in droves as opposed to the low hundreds again. I do think this. It is reasonable to think that the patterns of the past will continue. Structural changes in Australia and NZ are all very well and good but Australia remains a larger country (which is important) and, frankly, the only reason we seem better off today is because we seem like we’re staying still rather than slowing down. Once people realise slowing down isn’t the same as regressing… or, if I have misremembered and therefore when Australia is just standing still… to the sun they will run.

            However, if we’re dealing with a structural problem where the long-term future of this country is being more attractive than Australia then the long term future of this country is the return of our voyaging compatriots. To which I think the anti-immigrant wing would try to have us believe is best solved by cutting off the other sources of immigration. This is problematic because it’s a real mixture who go overseas and therefore a real mixture who come back. For example, my mate is neither skilled labour nor unknowledgeable: embodying in one vessel a varied composition. (To be fair, I haven’t seen him in a while so he may have upskilled. He’s also an example, you see, of out of Auckland internal migration.)

            Which I think brings us to the very limit of where we can class you as a member of the anti-immigrant wing. As you point out, immigration has a vital role in the provision of in-demand skills. Which is the reason the anti-immigrant interpretation I outlined just now fails (to be fair, it is a constructed, not represented argument so maybe they don’t say the above).

            With teaching and healthcare it is obvious that we lack the labour in NZ to make up any shortfalls that exist. The incentive schemes for training are clearly not working. Possibly, it is time the government starts to provide housing as an incentive for teachers instead of scholarships as such. That is, become a teacher for five years and we’ll house you near a train station for your uni term and those five years. I envision this requiring the construction of some sort of appropriate accommodation (a block of flats, something for multiple prospective teachers anyway), which is a good thing and if you choose a central enough train station, especially post-CRL (and I doubt such a scheme could be completed too much beforehand), it will allow a reasonable commute to anywhere not in north or east* Auckland, and possibly even those areas. There are issues here, but it is time to be inventive. (We have a defence programme which advertises itself as a tradie’s paradise, why no-one suggests using those house-building skills to build houses is beyond me.)

            The issues with transport are at one less intractable (a “mere” a need of investment), and at the other the same. As with housing, there are only so many people in the country (possibly including those convinced by the aforesaid advertising) with the skills to actually build the systems we want… and presumably to manage it (I think it was in this post’s comment section where automation was mentioned but we’re not there yet). So, in this same sense, I do think immigration is the solution (not the problem). But when we want to talk about things like Auckland-Hamilton rail then my mind starts thinking “developments around train stations to provide the patronage” so in that sense, too, population (immigrant or not) is key.

            As a final thought… we do need to regulate and strong-arm the non-university and non-school export education sector. It seems that every week for, frankly, my entire life (I am not so old) there is a new institute being done for fraud. Rascals and rogues and ne’er do wells are endemic in the sector and it is they who should be the villains of the piece. What better fodder for the masses than self-enriching managers doing over the little guy? If these institutes are part of an immigration racquet, it is one of our making for allowing them to skimp on the training.

            *I am of the mind it is a real estate agent’s construction. I on the other hand have no particular aversion to south Auckland so extend its borders appropriately.

          3. ‘It is reasonable to think that the patterns of the past will continue.’
            I disagree. I think that is a simplistic, lazy and dangerous assumption.

            And just because Australia is bigger does not automatically imply it will drain kiwis away.

            Remember too that there have been a number of recent policy changes in Australia that have reduced the attractiveness of migrating to Australia.

            So I do think there are a range of structural and policy reasons why high migration to Aus is unlikely to occur in the future.

          4. It is neither lazy nor dangerous, being the standard assumption of time series (and hence time dependent) modelling. At least, in the form of “the past informs the future”. Not, as I have explained, that I think it really alters the conclusion… simply the number of words it takes to reach it.

            It also doesn’t necessarily matter if it is to Australia that people fly. For instance, Germany has a history of open attitudes to migration and currently allows foreign students to study for free at its universities (although I know only two people who have entertained Germany as a destination… one of whom was, I think, born there and is theoretically German-Canadian). Australia is particularly attractive due to its relative similarities (e.g. no need to learn German) but simply being larger is, in itself, a drawcard for a certain kind of person. If you read this blog remotely regularly I am sure there is no need to say more than agglomeration.

            But let us not get too wrapped up in the likelihood of a return to the flight of the Kiwi… as I said, I don’t think it alters the conclusions. Actually even in my original post I used Australia’s bizarre conception of mateship (or its normal one, and it is us who are bizarre) to criticise the anti-immigrant wing’s narrative.

          5. We’ll have to agree to disagree. 🙂

            I think a structural change to far fewer kiwis leaving NZ is very significant, for a host of reasons

  13. Thanks for the article Ms. Lawless. It is a good reminder why I am not a socialist. I am astonished that even after the last 100 years of socialism in practice and all misery that went with it there are some people who still hold on to this evil ideology.

    However, focusing on your arguments, I think they fail on a very simple point. It appears your line of thought is “immigration is good, therefore, a lot of immigration must be better!”. However, can we get too much of a good thing? No one would argue that we as NZ could handle a 100 or 10 or even 1 million people turning up at once. We wouldn’t even have the beds for them let alone food and water. So if we can’t handle 1 million migrants all at once or over a year then the question then moves to how many is appropriate. Perhaps it is more than now but perhaps its less. The rest of your points have nothing to do with the right number of migrants for NZ but seem mostly to vilify anyone who disagrees with you.

    1. After 14 years in NZ I am becoming a socialist. The more I see the National party conniving in 3rd world wages with it related 3rd world inequity the more socialist I become.

      1. If that is the case Mr. Atkinson then I would suggest you examine Venezuela. The socialist dream isn’t working out that well. Socialist countries tend to keep wages down as the economy cannot grow. The economy is too complicated to be planned from a central bureaucracy. While wages in free-market societies have been flat to modest this is still significantly better when compared to socialist countries.

          1. Norway isn’t socialist. The state doesn’t own the means of production or is Norway transitioning to communism. There is no “people’s democracy” in Norway. If you mean a large welfare state then yes. But welfare and socialism aren’t the same.

          2. I must have misunderstood your point – i thought you were implying Labour are socialist (as many NZers seem to think)

          1. She may well be a socialist but that doesn’t necessarily mean the tone of the post was. I have read it again and I don’t see any reference to the state controlling the means of production.

      2. I reckon there are 2 phases of socialism. There’s the jealous and immature “the world is unfair, let’s fix it” stage of youth. Then there’s the more benevolent one that often comes later in life: “i have achieved success and have plenty, i’m not too worried about holding onto it” phase.

        In between there is the hunger and drive to want to better your lot, using the sweat of your own brow; that (fortunately) is still the dominant ideology among those 30-50.

        1. I was never the former but I have definitely become the latter – and that is a surprise to me as much as anyone.

          I just don’t see how anyone can look at the way things are headed and say that is a NZ we want for our kids, grandkids to inherit.

          Be it housing, wages, environment, health….will we plunder into a banana republic? No, but that shouldn’t mean we want things better.

    2. That’s a pretty dumb statement. There are plenty of countries that are more socialist than NZ that are better (happier, richer, etc), and there are plenty of places that are less socialist than NZ that are worse (I wouldn’t want to live in the states for example)

    3. “I am astonished that even after the last 100 years of socialism in practice and all misery that went with it there are some people who still hold on to this evil ideology.”

      I know, right. It’s ridiculous that 90+% of New Zealanders consistently support keeping education and healthcare free at the point of use./sarc

  14. It might come to a surprise of many but NZ is one of the freest countries economically – Singapore and Hong Kong bring the other two. However, we have personal and social freedom. New Zealand is one of the most prosperous nations in the world and on some measures number one. The US economy is far more regulated they we are and we pay some of the lowest taxes in the OECD. The so-called socialist countries that New Zealanders point to aren’t actually socialist. As I said above, don’t confuse a large welfare state with socialism. Socialism has particular philosophical elements that usually end in death if actually followed as all the countries that have tried.

        1. Poor ratings in education, personal safety and environment (you know, the basis for our largest industry, tourism).

          We won’t be #1 for much longer at that rate. And the ride down the table won’t be pretty.

        2. I find a measure of prosperity that doesn’t actually include the financial well-being of a country a little odd I’d have to say. It’s not the be all and end all of prosperity but it is reasonably important.

    1. I think maybe there’s just a difference in definition here. It is quite valid to include the Nordic countries as socialist. Look up democratic socialism in wikipedia. It does not end in death. You may simply have a more narrow definition of socialism, and communication might be enhanced if you put an adjective before socialism to define more clearly what you mean. 🙂 It’s just nicer to discuss concepts rather than argue because we’re using different definitions.

      1. I agree we shouldn’t argue at cross-purposes. However, the Wikipedia page on Democratic Socialism states “Democratic socialism is a political ideology that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production, often with an emphasis on democratic management of enterprises within a socialist economic system.” And at the beginning states “Not to be confused with Social Democracy”, which I think many and maybe yourself did here.
        The Democratic Socialist party in Norway has 4% of the vote so I wouldn’t call Norway a Democratic Socialist country. The key aspect of socialism, in all its forms is that the “means of production” are owned collectively. That is simply not the case in Norway. Norway has a market economy with a strong social welfare system – that’s not socialism regardless of any adjective.
        The original poster, Ms. Lawless, identifies herself as a “radical socialist”. The “about” section on “Fightback” gives a flavour of their form of socialism. https://fightback.org.nz/about/

        1. Wikipedia in no way supported my suggestion. Sorry about that, my memory failed me. According to the Google search’s coloured text showing I’ve been there before, it was actually Merriam Webster that I had checked the definition on socialism a few weeks ago. Because of the Wikipedia entry, from now on I’ll be much more careful with my definitions! Thanks for replying. 🙂 Here’s what Merriam Webster says:

          “In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.

      2. Read some history Heidi. Socialism is an evil and failed ideology. It’s a very different thing to the social democratic nations in Scandanavia

  15. I think this article is way over the top. Deciding that foreign students shouldn’t be able work as of right -which was the established policy until a few years ago -to prevent the borderline corruption of the foreign education industry, by some providers offering sham education courses, when they are really just selling work visas is a reasonable thing to consider. Foreign students do not have a ‘right’ to work. The foreign education industry does not have a ‘right’ to this hidden subsidy. If a foreigner wants to come here and work then they should go through the established working visas schemes. Those schemes should be for genuine skill shortages in medium to high paid jobs.

    1. here here.
      Two examples of education for PNG nationals who have and had no intention of staying nor working: Ardmore airport trains PNG pilots; they stayed for maybe 6 months: a male nurse with family came for a two year nursing course. To spell it out NZ can make a profit from education without having to throw in work permits and residency.

  16. I believe that immigration is a legitimate discussion topic for Greater Auckland, but I am not a fan of this article. There are many reasonable arguments for a moderate immigration policy -as defined as leaving permanent residence numbers the same while tightening up on some of the requirements of the student and work visa schemes.

    But the tone of this article isn’t about creating a forum for a reasonable discussion. It is a platform for making ad hominem attacks against those who have doubts about how immigration is currently run in NZ. For instance when the author say -“taking our jerbs” -she is implying that those who have concerns about the impact of allowing foreign students to work has on the labour market are stupid and cannot talk properly.

    This website is usually better than that.

    1. Brendon – I totally agree with most of what you say but do you realise that at 50k per year we still lead the developed world in legal immigration. Why? Why not just a little lower??

      Clearly the author does not have children failing at school if this is the country she wants.

    2. Spot on. I usually agree with the majority of the articles posted on this site but this one was a shocker, blatantly out of tune with a progressive evidence and analysis based forum.

  17. Regarding shady immigration agents, that is so true but not much has been done to fix it.

    Shady agents sell scams and tricks students to go to low quality school for unreasonably high fees and commissions.

    Shady agents also do human trafficking by purposely holding students passports and refuse to give it back to students. They use all sort of excuse like the passport is being process by immigration. The goal is the students can’t find another agent.

    They also purposely delay the renewal of students’s visa. When the visa almost expires the student will beg for their help and the agent can make crazy profit by selling them another low quality school that pays the agent most commission.

    Students are usually innocent and believe the beautiful hypes from agents.

    The immigration ministry simply doesn’t care. Immigration depart those poor students who had been scammed – because the low quality education, students can’t find good jobs or go to better university, so they can’t renew thier visa.

    The poor students simply wasted years of time and have to go back to their own country with low quality education and a useless diploma.

    There is simply not enough being done to stop those shady agents and low quality schools.

    What do you think those students will say to the people at there own country? New Zealand education reputation are bankrupted already.

    1. Please read Prof Stringer’s report on ‘Widespread Worker Exploitation’. It is hard to read it without feeling sick. Whoever solves it best will get my vote ahead of every other issue. Admittedly all parties have made a few noises in the correct direction but they are only talking. I want to see an MP hammering their parliamentary desk with a heavy shoe. This issue is a total embarrassment for New Zealand.

    2. Kelvin, I realise I answered your post without the courtesy of telling you how I agree with everything you wrote and I’m delighted there is someone else who cares and is willing to say so.
      NZ today is similar to when the UK provided the ships to transfer black slaves sold by Arab traders to the Americas where they would be sold on to plantation owners. But slavery was illegal in the UK. It took most of William Wilberforce’s life to get the British navy to stop the transatlantic slave trade.

  18. “For instance when the author say -“taking our jerbs” -she is implying that those who have concerns about the impact of allowing foreign students to work has on the labour market are stupid and cannot talk properly.”

    No, she’s making a reference to an old South Park joke, as the link would have shown you.

    I really do find that whenever I discuss immigration, the less-migration crowd ALWAYS accuse me of “ad hominems”. There are of course no ad-hominems in this post, though a few mild epithets born of exasperation. What I can only imagine is that some people believe an “ad hominem” is when you read an argument which makes you reflect badly on yourself, but that’s not the fault of the arguer.

    An ad hominem is in fact an argument of the form: “The arguer is a socialist, JOE STALIN / NICHOLAS MADURO, therefore her argument is invalid.”

    “Strangely, the people who cry about “ad hominem” the most tend to be those who make ad hominems the most. This may be because the people who tend care about ad hominem attacks (since they, unlike most people, aren’t able to brush them off and get back to the substance of the debate) are also those who aren’t able to make more substantive attacks than “you’re dumb”.

    Alternately, all too often, people cry “ad hominem” when their debate opponent insults them, while failing to see the opposing arguments.” – http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_hominem

    1. Technically correct, but your argument stands out more as promoting immigration because you want to “stick it” to some of the people who oppose it (ignorant, dumb hicks). The old “enemy of my enemy” inclination. Or to put it more honestly – tribal mentality.

      “It increasingly looks to young, left-leaning New Zealanders who want to live in a diverse, exciting, growing country that Labour doesn’t see any point in appealing to us.”

      This is literally your only argument FOR immigration. You spent the rest of the article trying to disprove the arguments of others who want to reduce it. What you haven’t done is prove that the current level of immigration is desirable.

      Auckland is already plenty growing, plenty vibrant. Just compare it to 25 years ago. We don’t need to try and be Rio de Janeiro here.

    2. Well Daphne when you said about Labour’s foreign student proposal -“that’s destroying the village in order to save it levels of stupidity, or cynicism” -that is pretty close to attacking the person rather than the argument. It is quite insulting language.

      I don’t feel stupid and do not appreciate being called stupid because I agree with a policy where student visas holders do not have a right to work.

      I think it is reasonable to be concerned about the corruption of the foreign education industry, by some providers offering sham education courses, when they are really just selling ‘work visas’. Foreign students do not have a ‘right’ to work. The foreign education industry does not have a ‘right’ to this hidden subsidy. If a foreigner wants to come here and work then they should go through the established work visas schemes.

  19. Thanks. You are right and better still you have taught me the meaning of “ad hominem” which I guess is latin. There is a strong danger of shooting the messenger. For example Prof Spoonley [who (a) I happen to disagree with thinking he under-estimates the dangers of immigration (b) is clearly a very nice and articulate guy] has to be ex-directory because he has received death threats. Why threaten a demographer? Very sad. At least this blog moves at a higher level than talk-back radio.

    If you judge me as failing that “ad hominem” test I apologise. Just try seeing things from the point of view of the parent of children looking for work in New Zealand.

    I would be most interested in an article on the stratification of Auckland society. We immigrants arrive dreaming of a classless society.where judges and professors fish and watch rugby alongside cleaners and labourers. This is beginning to change. It remains as a relic in some Catholic schools and you get it in various North Shore colleges but it is disappearing. We used to live in overlapping villages and now we live in wealthy suburbs and poor suburbs, we are interested in different sports depending on our country of origin. It is a subject worth of your knowledge.

    1. “the dangers of immigration”

      Crikey, Bob, I’d never thought of it as dangerous. Thanks for the heads-up. I’m surrounded by bloody immigrants (the rest of the family!).

      1. I wasn’t thinking of a civil war as we had in Northern Ireland nor the break up of Yugoslavia but you can have plenty of unpleasantness before it gets to be a war.

        Tonight’s news was dominated by brazen attacks on dairies in Auckland. Now installing metal bars to separate customer from shop-keeper. I seriously don’t think they would happen if all the teenagers doing the attacks were the same ethnicity as the owners. It has to do with social cohesion and trust.

        I’m reminded of the Watts riots with Korean shops attacked by African-Americans. Solution is to get everyone to realise they are New Zealanders which where I live on the North Shore most of us do (by ‘us’ I’m thinking of specific immigrants of British, Chinese, Indian, Cook Island, Maori, Melanesian, Samoan, Tongan, Thai, German, Dutch, Malay, South African origin). It is not the numbers but it is the diversity that keep us safe.

        This is my dictionary definition of danger: the possibility of something unwelcome or unpleasant happening.

        Clearly MFD is not visiting a South Auckland dairy this evening.

  20. Strongly disagree with this piece.
    I find it ironic that someone of ‘the left’ cannot see the hypocrisy in their position of support for large scale immigration. It has clearly been keeping wages down, and the ‘right’ will be adoring so called ‘lefties’ like Daphne for supporting their position.
    What field do you and your partner work in Daphne? Do you know what its like to be an experienced hospitality worker getting $16-17 per hour? Up against a flood of low skilled, low paid migrants?
    But unlike Daphne, I don’t take a black and white ideological view on these things. Despite my view being that I think ‘low skilled’ immigration needs to be slashed, immigration is very important to certain sectors, such as aged care.
    It needs to be reduced overall, but increased in targeted areas.

    1. I think their idea is that a child in a Mumbai slum is as valuable as any child in Auckland. The thought that the child may be their own child and be their own responsibility doesn’t enter their mind.

      Nobody has mentioned Phil Twyford’s assertion “the Government has spends $100,000 per night housing the homeless in motels this year”. That money would pay for the cycle-way needed at the top of Eskdale Domain in one day.

      Nobody has mentioned the government’s arbitrary freeze on family reunification; the extreme left is just like the right – they are thinking of immigrants as economic units not as people who may love their parents.

    1. I must say I totally abhor the tendency of some people to conflate advocating for lower and more targetted immigration with being anti-immigrant.
      Whilst some who argue for lower immigration are anti-immigrant, there is obviously not an automatic association between the two.

  21. Can anybody produce a table showing the percent of Auckland’s population foreign born since the city was founded? Suspect present situation not an outlier.

    1. Well when founded I suppose everyone was foreign born until the 1st Maori moved in. At present from the gov stats website “In the 2013 Census, 39 percent of the Auckland population was born overseas”. Prof Spoonley claims this is the highest for any large city in the world.

  22. I have been a long-time reader of this blog and am starting to lose my patience with some of the things being posted here. This is the second time in a week that the views of far left wingers with ties to socialist groups have been published. It is your blog, do with it what you will, but you are losing credibility fast by posting the work of left wing extremists. A quick search shows Daphne Lawless is a “leading member of Socialist Worker Aotearoa/New Zealand”. Last week you published a post originally written for “Fightback Magazine”, who have in their banner “Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism”.

    I was under the impression this blog’s purpose was to advocate better urban planning and transport solutions for Auckland, not push a far left wing ideology, or show any form of political allegiance. If it continues I will have to write this blog off as just another non-credible left wing blog along the lines of The Daily Blog.

    1. +1

      My concern is that the blog could be seen as “just another left wing blog” and the excellent analysis that he been done on ATB may have been undone.

    2. +2,
      Did read first paragraph, scanned second then decided post was a load of bollox, nothing to do with Auckland planning or transport issues, just the rantings of a looney tune

      1. Personal attack. Brilliant contribution that advances the debate.
        How dare anybody hold a different opinion to yours.

        1. No personal attack, my comments were based on the little content I actually read. Why further a meaningless debate? How dare you judge me or not allow me to express my opinion. Who radicalized you?

    3. Agree 100%. Peter Nunns is great at dissecting local body, transport, urban planning issues…but I feel like he’s set the tone with a few digs recently at the side of national politics he opposes.

      What we’ve seen here is another level entirely. Almost click bait style – which has “worked” actually if you look at the number of comments!!

      If the objective is to become a Green Party blog, let me know now and I’ll piss off.

      1. Hey, you’re free to disagree. If this were a modern left leaning site there would be no comments section.

        Greater Auckland clearly does not shy away from criticism. It is just a shame that all the critics of this post, from a guest contributor, appear to lack the will to confront it.

        If it was really bollocks, it would be easy. And if it were easy, we’d see substantive criticism.

        Instead? Yeah… fingers crossed they’re busily working on their own guest posts and these remarks here are the equivalent of press conference posturing for a boxing match to build the fight up.

        (And, to be clear, in a world where migrants are blamed for housing costs and in a world where migrants typically come through Auckland it is childishly easy to see that this post is germane.)

          1. I don’t think you could accuse this blog of being balanced. They have a particular agenda that they are trying to push. If you want to find the opposite opinion you have to go elsewhere.

        1. “Greater Auckland is an independent volunteer-run analysis and advocacy platform for improving the quality of our cities.

          Formerly transportblog, we provide evidence based debate on urban form, transport, housing, design, and public space.

          Our aim is to foster a greater Auckland for all.”

          How does this post fit the GA remit?

  23. Biggest load of dribble I have read in a long time:

    – Go look at the Stats NZ website. There you will find graphs that show NZ citizens leaving vs. arriving basically cancel each other out. The 70,000 increase is purely new immigrants.

    – Those 70,000 people put a very real stress on an already dysfunctional residential market.

    – Apparently we should feel sorry for law breakers and let them stay. Why do we want to flood the country with dishonest people who see nothing wrong with fraud?

    Really all that post is about is your “feelings” and how you are “angry”. Pathetic. I agree with others that this post damages the credibility of this blog.

    1. You mean this graph? http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/Migration/international-travel-and-migration-articles/kiwi-factor-migration

      Yeah, no. The way to read that is that there has been an increase in non-resident migrants (recorded as long term, which includes students) but the reason why the numbers are way up is because the substantial outflow of residents has dried up to a few hundred.

      It is hard to tell what exactly you mean if you don’t show us to what exactly you refer. (Including where these points connect to the argument above.)

      Nor, as I have explained above, is this sufficient a case. All it shows is that there are twenty thousand more people than we have seen before because that many more New Zealanders* are coming back into the country/not leaving. Pah. Who cares? So what? That graph completely disproves the idea that immigration is the problem here. The trend upwards we’re in at the moment is years old, and steep. Years. Clearly, our problems, which we’ve been talking about for years (all of them, with the exception of the cause celebre that we attend to here, which only developed its infamy as we approached an election… suspicious timing? apparently not), have different causes.

      Do migrants add stresses in the sense they need to live in places? Yeah, of course. But some of them are here to build more houses. And if we don’t take in those kinds of immigrants we don’t have anywhere near enough people to build the houses we need… because, shockingly, it isn’t “muh feelings” to note that people have babies and that fewer people are dying at younger ages than ever. But let’s forget all that so we can continue ignoring these perverted incentives to invest in already built housing created by our regulatory environment and natural predisposition, as members of the Anglosphere, to invest in housing that is really responsible for our favourite bubble. Yay us.

      Not that the post above actually talked about housing… attacking three other “economic” arguments (population… which might indirectly address housing because, hey, it does… infrastructure and employment) and another “economic” argument (human welfare). It’s a weakness, yeah, but it really means is that you have absolutely failed to address the arguments that were raised above.

      (Actually, it’s possible Lawless thinks it sufficient to argue that housing prices will remain high even if we have a net migration of 0 on account of, you know, housing prices being the crux of the housing crisis argument and basically having argued that MORE needs to be done. Take away everything about immigration and you’ve read a post that says, “National’s not doing anything. Labour’s not proposing solutions. But we’ve got problems. And they need investment from the state”. Do you disagree with that?)

      As to law breakers… it is not entirely clear that they were law breakers as such. That would imply that they were at fault. Legally, yeah, they were but the law is a little bit screwed up. Those students were taken for a ride but because we burden the lay person with responsibility to understand regulations that we don’t let people touch ordinarily without training they’re the bad guys. Sure, maybe they were entirely devious, but it doesn’t alter the fundamental situation where we create room for frauds. The law doesn’t protect the little guy and it’s criminal, to my mind, to think it does. Immigration law is particularly nasty in this respect as immigrants have a certain fragility.

      The blog’s credibility isn’t damaged at all. But at least you have the integrity to actually try and explain why that might be the case… even if I think you failed in the attempt.

      Final note… I’ve written too many comments already, perhaps filled (as another commenter’s were claimed to be) with too much piffle paffle, so I won’t reply if you choose to respond in case I am becoming a bit too polemically tendentious and anonymous for the rules.

      *Actually, just citizens. How many of that lot we assume to be foreign are actually NZ residents?

      1. ‘Yeah, no. The way to read that is that there has been an increase in non-resident migrants (recorded as long term, which includes students) but the reason why the numbers are way up is because the substantial outflow of residents has dried up to a few hundred.’

        That is right, partly (numbers are way up also because non-citizen inflows are way up).

        I realise you disagree with me that kiwi outflows are going to be permanently lower (give or take some fluctuations) – if they were though (ie. I was right and you were wrong) would you concede that non-citizen inflows should be reduced?

        Also if our current net inflow numbers are to be at least retained, something you seem to support, I am very keen to hear from you as to how the necessary huge increases in housing, schooling, transport and healthcare will be funded. Massive borrowing? Large tax increases?

        1. I have explained above: it does not matter whether or not we start buggering off again as is our cultural wont or not.

          As to the rather more interesting question of where the money comes from? I see three answers.

          One, not cutting taxes as currently proposed/happened and reversing the last lot, definitely not for the lowest PAYE bracket but certainly for a new highest income bracket.

          Two, general reform of the tax system… in particular capital gains tax but also other land and housing related taxes to properly incentivise would-be property investors (ideally by giving them a metaphorical kick up the arse). This could include not taxing “income” from building the right kinds of properties in the right kinds of places (and frankly, NIMBY’s be damned)… but a more common sense definition of income is certainly on the table, but I rather suspect that could be more trouble than it’s worth (e.g. in suggestion I just made).

          Three, no more stupid road projects. There is billions right there.

          Movement towards a more okay with taxes society would be a long-term goal. New Zealand is a long narrow country with a temperate to very cold climate. It’s time we start looking more like other long narrow countries.

          More inventive solutions should also be considered. The one that keeps coming to mind is repurposing the defence forces into a literal army of contractors (who built the famous Roman highways?)… which should also be useful in cases of disaster. And then there are less edgy (the normal) inventive solutions (e.g. PPPs, selling naming rights) which would also on the table. Hell, you could also disincentivise the problematic direct to consumer advertisements of prescription medicines by creating a rubber stamp board (i.e. low salary costs because you add it to someone’s existing job) with exorbitant fees (as an alternative to ceasing to be one of the three countries where such advertising is legal).

          It’s a mad auld world, though, so one would have to run these ideas past a “could it work” test. Certainly not spending money on stupid roads is achievable, so definitely that.

          1. That’s a start, but you are going to have to do a lot better than that in terms of responding to the population growth you seem smitten with. You should also appreciate that a number of those proposals you raise are la-la land – ie. politically no goers. I guess everyone is free to fantasize though.

            ‘I have explained above: it does not matter whether or not we start buggering off again as is our cultural wont or not.’

            It matters a great deal whether kiwis start buggering off or not – ie. it might mean the difference between a net migration gain of say 70K per year, or say 20K. With impacts disproportionately concentrated in Auckland

  24. My ageing (foreign) mother is the grandmother of two native and proud New Zealander girls, the mother-in-law of a true blue Cantabrian, and the mother of a grateful and perfectly-adapted tax-paying new New Zealander (since 1996). She receives a pension, can bring over a decent amount of funds (she needs no income support whatsoever) and is in good health despite going blind due to ageing. YET, we can´t bring her over to look after her and have her with us in her last years, because Immigration NZ has stopped taking applications for family reunion. We love her to bits and this breaks our hearts. Fair?

  25. Here is NZ First’s stated POLICY on immigration.

    Where exactly is it ‘racist’?

    http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/immigration

    “New Zealand First is committed to a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s interests.

    Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.
    …..”

    Penny Bright
    2017 Independent candidate for Tamaki.

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