Yesterday Winston Peters chucked a gallon of petrol onto the smouldering immigration debate:
NZ Herald ‘Alternative Facts’ Misleading Over Immigration
Press Release: New Zealand First Party
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand Herald propaganda written by two Asian immigrant reporters
Stop right there because you’ve already lost. Trying to discredit the writers because of their ethnicity is a full-blown racist attack. Just in case anyone thought Peters was mellowing with age, this is a sharp reminder of the depths that he can sink to.
Just about everyone has rightly condemned Peters for this, from the editor of The Herald, to the journalists themselves, to the Race Relations Commissioner, to ACT, to any number of journalists and commentators. Update: Reactions from Little and English here.
Peters should have known that such nonsense would completely undermine whatever point he was trying to make:
stating the top five source nations for work visas are not Asian is completely wrong and based on flawed analysis, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“The reporters Lincoln Tan and Harkanwal Singh base their defective analysis on data from arrival/departure cards (which doesn’t disclose where the applicant originally came from), not on the number of work visas issued, outstanding or yet to be acted upon by their departure. … “The NZ Herald does not make it known that Statistics New Zealand publish data by previous country of residence, not country of citizenship, so entering from Australia does not make them Australian which is the flimsy conclusion the two Herald reporters relied upon.
“MBIE has the information so why aren’t they independently telling the public the truth.
“The main source countries for work visas are Asian countries – not the UK, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the US as the NZ Herald so erroneously and irresponsibly claims.
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment statistics for the top source countries are:
Family work visas granted 2015/16: India (7720), China (4012), Philippines (3216), UK (2566).
Outstanding temporary work visas as at June 30, 2016: India (25,479), UK (15,040), China (12,192), Philippines (11,980).
Essential skills visas granted 2015/16: Philippines (5408), India (4812), UK (3686).
Residence approvals 2015/16: China (9360), India (8498), UK (4934), Philippines (4614).
Student visas granted 2015/16: China (25,931), India (19,920), South Korea (4888), Philippines (3996), Japan (3604).
Tan and Singh reply comprehensively, including with respect to the data:
Statistics New Zealand’s release of permanent and long-term migration data today highlighted “record migration levels”, as it has for the past six months. This is the data mentioned by Labour leader Andrew Little when he discussed changes to immigration numbers and quoted by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse in his speech on changes to the work visa category. It is also the data we used to show where people on work visas are coming from and how that compares to student visas.
If, as his release says, Peters has a problem with collecting data from “arrival cards”, that’s something that should be taken up with Statistics NZ. Perhaps then political parties can stop using “record migration” figures which come from the same data.
It’s important to understand the state of immigration in NZ, and its important to understand the different data sets with their strengths and limitations. Peters could have made that point and it would have been a useful contribution. Instead he went for the cheap dog-whistle, probably assuming that he would pick up more votes than he lost. I hope he’s wrong.
Related reading: A brief glossary of terms politicians use in the immigration debate