Immigration in election year

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, April 19th, 2017 - 38 comments
Categories: bill english, election 2017, im/migration, winston peters - Tags: , , , , ,

National is about to execute a flip flop on immigration (Vernon Small):

Government to announce new moves to ‘control’ the flow of migrants

The Government is poised to unveil measures aimed at “controlling” the flow of migrants in a move seen as an attempt to neutralise the hot-button issue in election year.

But it is refusing to say exactly what impact they are likely to have on record net migrant numbers that hit 71,000 in the past year.

Speaking ahead of a major speech by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse in Queenstown on Wednesday, Prime Minister Bill English said the changes were designed to get better control and to better match immigrants with the skills needed.

Asked what impact the new moves would have on net inflows, English said he would not give an exact estimate. “The changes are about controlling the flows, I’m just not going to forecast exactly what impact they may or not have because forecasts have proven to be wrong so often over the last couple of years.” …

Speaking of forecasts that have been wrong over the years, here’s English in 2015:

…record arrival numbers will naturally drop, Finance Minister Bill English says. “… now we are moving into a part of the cycle where that inward migration must flatten out some time,” Mr English said. “We are not considering that [toughening criteria]. It will be self-balancing. As the economy is a bit softer you are going to get less opportunities and less of them turn up.” …

So much for self-balancing, Immigration soars to another record high.

Here’s what English has been saying about immigration:
Govt feels NZ migration settings are about right, PM English says, after figures show record net inflow…
PM: ‘Record immigration’s a good problem to have’
Prime Minister Bill English says immigrants are flocking to New Zealand because of the strong, confident economy

Here’s what’s actually behind what English has been saying about immigration:
New Zealand’s economic growth driven almost exclusively by rising population
Record migration boosts growth short term, but will it make NZ richer?
Immigration could have lowered wage growth – Bill English

Here’s why he’s executing the reluctant flip flop (Bernard Hickey):

Case against migration gets unlikely support

It is set to be one of the hottest topics of the election campaign, despite the Government’s attempts to tweak it away or hope it goes away in some sort of cyclical swing.

Concern that record high net migration is intensifying Auckland’s housing and transport deficit has been one of the Opposition’s key attack lines against National in the last three years, led firstly by Winston Peters and then carried on by Labour. But it is the relatively low-skilled quality of the migration that is set to take the debate to another level, and Peters has some unlikely allies that include his old foes at Treasury and some data that just won’t go away.

The biggest worry for Treasury in its advice to Ministers is the heavy role of temporary migrants in the workforce and how it may be displacing unemployed and young New Zealanders who also have low skills. That hits directly at one of the Government’s core strategies – generating jobs growth that can soak up beneficiaries being nudged off dependency by some of its social investment policies.

Treasury highlighted its concerns in advice to ministers through 2015 and 2016 that was released through the Official Information Act in May last year. It was the turbo boost Peters needed and the surge in annual net migration to over 70,000 early in 2017 has injected more fuel into the debate.

High and growing levels of low skilled migration are a worry for the Treasury, but they’ll be a political worry for the Government in an election year. Winston Peters has an extra gleam in his eyes when he talks about migration and jobs and wages in an election year. That’s because one of the most eye-opening correlations over the last two decades is that between long term net migration and New Zealand First’s polling.

National – it’s always and only about the next election.

38 comments on “Immigration in election year”

  1. red-blooded 1

    A cynical flip flop from the Nats in election year – what a shock!

  2. Incognito 2

    It will be self-balancing. As the economy is a bit softer you are going to get less opportunities and less of them turn up.

    Where does this absurd idea of self-balancing immigration come from? Are explosions “self-balancing”? Mr English seems to have such strange concepts of the world. On top of that, his English is becoming as bad as his predecessor’s.

  3. Carolyn_nth 3

    People need to see this for what it is. As an Auckland renter, I have seen the Nats’ track record – just make it seem like they are doing something, but in practice, it’s never enough to change the status quo.

    The status quo is a rentier economy, that benefits the wealthy propertied classes, while exploiting renters and the homeless. And the most exploited renters and homeless, are those on low incomes: those with least power.

    Fuck the Nats with this transparent, cynical move! They have sat and fiddled while more and more people are struggling and homeless. All they care about is maintaining power, and the brutal division between haves and have-nots. That will not change with this latest window-dressing move.

    • michelle 3.1

      Agree with you Caroline the gnats have had plenty of time to put things right for 9 years they have not listened to the people there crap policies are hurting. They have continued with the ‘I know best attitude” they have had 9 years to create our brighter future the problem is the brighter future was for the few. The change of heart not that they have a heart is mainly due to the election. Bills social investment approach of out sourcing our state services to foreign companies is not going down very well and he was warned but he didn’t listen.

  4. Gosman 4

    Of course National was going to change tack in this policy. They haven’t got a reputation as being the party of political pragmatism (or opportunism if you like) for nothing.

  5. Ad 5

    This government had enough time to enact policy to deflate housing speculation. But not enough to make a difference to housing supply.

    I think it will be the same with immigration: they have enough time to stop the lowest quality migrant and student, but not enough time to curb whole inbound population growth causing social problems.

    They’ve left it too long.

  6. Tamati Tautuhi 6

    Of course National are going to look at Immigration this year after all it is an Election Year and the Sleepy Hobbits here in NZ and MSM will make out National are on to something, meanwhile Auckland’s roads are at a standstill, sewerage is spewing into our harbours and our parks and reserves are being used as camping grounds for the homeless?

  7. ropata 7

    National will pay lip service to the problem and do absolutely nothing, as usual. Just like their ineffective CGT

  8. Antoine 8

    Oh well, hopefully a change for the better, rather overdue

  9. mary_a 9

    Natz looking into immigration. Ah time to appease the masses is it, after how long …?

    Election coming up folks … beware of forked tongue false promises from most deceitful, lying Natz!

    Can’t see this one kicking in any time soon.

  10. Tamati Tautuhi 10

    Woodhouse and English to tighten Immigration Rules?

  11. simonm 12

    What a joke! The focus groups have started telling Blinglish and Woodhead that uncontrolled, low-skilled immigration is a major concern of the NZ voting public. Now they’ve come up with some more minor policy tinkering.

    Does this mean that our poor, hard done-by New Zealand employers will have to hire a few more “druggie” Kiwi workers and pay them a legal wage?

    • Jono 12.1

      Hope so and we can see how picky our employers really are…

    • Once ..whatever 12.2

      And think of all those restaurants and others charging for PR. I guess they’ll have to demand more in cash back payments and accommodation.

  12. Sacha 13

    Liam Dann writes: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11841134

    In the end, whether it’s a cynical move or not, this will play well politically.

    It has been done in consultation with business and the major lobby groups have applauded it.

    Winston Peters has predictably denounced it as far too mild – which keeps the policy well distanced from the kind of populist stuff that many New Zealanders are fearful of.

    But the Government still gets a headline saying it has toughened immigration policy – something that it knows won’t do it any harm at the polls.

    • Once ..whatever 13.1

      “Winston Peters has predictably denounced it as far too mild”. Perhaps only because it does nothing to address what we’d once have described as corruption – such as shady consultants and employers, and NZ’s nasty little secret of a slave trade.
      You can bet things will go quiet for a while, but the ticket clipping, amoral interlopers will be back in the very not too distant- simply charging and demanding more for their services.
      The hope this gubbamint has is that there’ll be no effect on NZ’s 5th largest “Export Industry” (education), or its supply chain.
      And that’s even before we start to consider other sectors that some have taken the time to research.

      Thankfully, India has apparently already come out and said this ‘could’ affect any notions of a free trade deal. (Oh Shit! I wonder why!) ….. Not
      You rip our nationals off using bullshit based here and in India (and China), fail to investigate, blame the victims and do nothing about the perpetrators, shove ’em out of the country in a flash after deigning to give them a shit existence , then expect us to believe you are of such good character that we should enter a trade agreement with you.
      I say whistle Dixie, and I sincerely hope they stick to their principles.

      And as for the $50K mark – I know of immigrant people granted PR on the basis of their IT skills who’re only JUST earning that amount.

  13. Poission 14

    Australia introduces tax on companies that want foreign workers, to train unskilled Australians.

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/businesses-who-want-foreign-workers-will-now-have-to-pay-a-tax-to-train-unskilled-australian-workers-2017-4

    • simonm 14.1

      And Australia has a Tory government too. I’d say the chances of our own useless, neoliberal tossers implementing what actually sounds like a sensible policy that would cost their big-business mates a very modest sum, would be zero.

  14. Marco 15

    Serious question. Have any of the commenters above hired, trained & paid people? If so have you experienced the skills shortage or encountered 10000’s of skilled & willing local workers ready to work diligently & show up regularly?

    • simonm 15.1

      Serious answer. No. However, I do live in Auckland and therefore experience the enormous strain that unlimited immigration is placing on the city’s infrastructure, schools and hospitals every day. If employers are having trouble finding skilled New Zealanders to fill positions, it’s time they started doing two things:

      1) Pay better wages that allow citizens to live with dignity in the city. People sleeping in cars or garages, or eight people to a room is not acceptable.

      2) Start training New Zealanders in the skills required for a high-wage, high-productivity economy. Importing cheap foreign labour that undercuts wages and conditions for local workers in a race to the bottom does nothing to improve the country or the living standards of its citizens in the long-term.

    • Andre 15.2

      Yep. On my last project when it transitioned from the development phase to production, I hired and trained a couple of people. Since it was an expensive niche product with an uncertain sales future, the company was only offering a short-term fixed duration contract with uncertain hours. The people we hired were both immigrants, one that came a while ago when the general industry I’m in was genuinely having a desperate skills shortage, one a new arrival (with a relevant degree but little hands-on experience) who came in on the “pay for a short study course, get job, turn the job into permanent residence, bring family” plan.

      The word I got from contacts in the industry was that local skilled people were put off applying by the uncertainty in the contract. Had the new arrival not been available, the company was in a position to offer more certainty to attract a local, or offer more training to a less-educated local, either of which would have been a better outcome for NZ in my opinion.

      That’s not a criticism of the new immigrant, he’s bright, hard worker and he’ll be an asset to NZ should he choose to stay here. But at the same time, it’s hard to avoid thinking that these easy paths to immigration make it too easy for employers to exploit migrants while pushing down wages and conditions for the locals already here.

      • Once ..whatever 15.2.1

        “That’s not a criticism of the new immigrant, he’s bright, hard worker and he’ll be an asset to NZ”
        That seems very magnanimous of you Andre. And did you adhere to the SDLC (not to be confused with synchronous data link control) and various other acronyms?

        Perhaps because of age I’m becoming too cynical, but just as you relate your experiences in your sector, so too are there so so many in various others.

        Shit dressed up as concern I can’t abide.

        I could offer you an IT (oh that’s right they call it ITC these days) PHD candidate, or an ex Indian Airforce candidate specialising in Electronics and Avionics.
        I could and I would – even at the risk that he/she might be smarter than ye, but (s)he’s come to his/her senses and realises NZ’s loss will probably be Canada’s gain.
        In case you’re wondering … there are ekshully two of either sex (going forward)

    • Once ..whatever 15.3

      The following was intended as a response to 15, I’m not sure its showing up as such (I’m without reading glasses)
      Indeed I have.
      The problem is that this situation has been allowed to develop over a long time.
      We’ve under-resourced the Labour Inspectorate, NZQA has been slow to pick up on the charlatans (probably for the same reason), and INZ have allowed themselves to be manipulated.

      This latest – as opposition parties say is a dog whistle and not very sophisticated.
      We’ve made promises to many immigrants, then we try to tip them out when no longer needed or when the issue gets sticky.
      Sure fruit picking might be ‘unskilled’, but an understanding and experience of the entire process isn’t necessarily, but experience is not valued apparently – even if we were to get another PSA Virus incursion.
      The same applies to other sectors – look at the number of truck accidents we’re getting.
      I note there are 600? or so ‘special cases’ in the Sth Island – Woodhouse just suggested on RNZ they are in the farrming and hort sectors – probably Bill’s mates.
      What makes them any different than those in hort in BoP or Hawkes Bay?

      Surely a better policy would have been to allow those who’ve been here for say 5 or 6 years or more to stay so that their experience and skills can be used to pass on to NZers.
      It just seems the Natz panic, and think shit – we better try and tip a few out.

      And whilst they do that, they should ensure the Labour Inspectorate is properly resourced to weed out the unscrupulous. When they’re caught (regardless of their PR status) – tip them out rather than their victims.

      And if and when we get a change of government, let’s hope they have a cold hard look at the likes of MoBIE, MPI and a few others.
      As Guyon Espiner suggested of the Munster – he appears to be simply an ‘observer’. The same can be said of MoBIE and MPI

  15. Paul Campbell 16

    This is the immigration policy you bring in if you don’t really want people like you to stop from immigrating … heaven help us if the 1%ers stopped coming and that Auckland housing bubble popped before the election …

    • Once ..whatever 16.1

      +1
      And there was another hint as to the drivers behind this policy – even if it was dressed up in a Ming Blue Suit and feigning intelligence and authority,.
      It was to do with the South Island.
      I’m not yet sure why all those long term well-established immigrants who are contributing to sussoighty are so completely different from the other decade-long, well established immigrants in the North Island (in various areas) …. other than they might be farm workers or vineyard workers in National Party electorates such ez Bul in Nuk’s en uthas.

      This really could become a shit show – here’s hoping (already the Kiwi Fruits are getting up in arms, the consultants are panicking and looking for ways to disguise and continue on, some in the proivit tershry edjikayshun secta will be considering their future) …..

      It’s actually good in some ways: Woddhouse has just pissed off a good many more people, and unlike him, there are still quite a few that care about their fellow man rather than the almighty dollar and the ming blue suit. It’s not just people either – it’s other governments

  16. Draco T Bastard 17

    Asked what impact the new moves would have on net inflows, English said he would not give an exact estimate. The changes are about controlling the flows, I’m just not going to forecast exactly what impact they may or not have because forecasts have proven to be wrong so often over the last couple of years.

    Translation: At the minimum there will be no change to incoming flows but there could also be an increase.

    Here’s what’s actually behind what English has been saying about immigration:
    New Zealand’s economic growth driven almost exclusively by rising population
    Record migration boosts growth short term, but will it make NZ richer?
    Immigration could have lowered wage growth – Bill English

    1. It’s is only increasing population that makes the economy bigger. To actually become wealthier we need to increase productivity and develop the economy but we haven’t really been doing that as we’ve refused to do the necessary R&D. Instead we’ve been relying far too much upon exporting our limited resources through farming and mining which is cheap and easy – the path chosen by the truly lazy.
    2. No it won’t.
    3. Which is a large part of why the government likes it. Lower wages results in higher profits.

  17. Incognito 18

    Once again National failed miserably. Arguably, the immigration issue is complex but in true National style they reduced it to a simplistic meaningless measure: $49k (The meaning to life is 42 but National has always been a little off-target so this is actually pretty close).

    This figure does not address actual need nor does it address where the need is most pressing. It does not anticipate future needs.

    One can only assume National’s figure is based on full-time employment, which is an anachronism from a bygone era. Thus it has got nothing to do with so-called highly skilled work.

    Where are the model predictions to support this cynical move? Surely, National has requested some modelling; they always do because they are ideological bean counters.

    Since the highest paid jobs are predominantly found in the main centres this will not do anything to alleviate the pressures caused by large immigration influx in these centres.

    The higher-paid immigrants moving to the main centres will also keep the upward pressure on house prices; National will want their cake and eat it too, obviously.

  18. Tanz 19

    It’s too late – Auckland and NZ are now swamped, house prices have gone to ridiculous heights, the job market is so competitive and wages have been driven down, there is no bargaining power now, roads are completely clogged – was on the shore yesterday, the queues south over the bridge were still there at frigging half eleven am, and our schools are over crowded. No doubt I will be deemed racist for such comments, but I am annoyed with the fact that my children will probably never be able to buy their own home, they have to compete hugely just for a basic job, and the roads are now absolutely chaotic and more dangerous – my own car written off the other week, via a hoon flying into the back of me. Congestion everywhere, even up as far as Orewa, and don’t bother with Hamilton – you sit in endless queues of traffic there too. Yes, have some immigration, but the amount right now is far too much for a country and cities of our size, we can’t house all our own at the moment, let alone give quality education or a fair and decent job market.

    And I don’t consider it racist to stick up for our fast-disappearing Kiwi traditions or the birthright of my kids – my grandfather was a house and church builder in the Hawkes Bay – they were given a state house for life and did not have to cope with the consequences of mass immigration. No state houses now, just cars and garages. Disgraceful.

  19. Tanz 20

    Thanks Ropata, I will have a look. I think immigration is our most important issue this election, as it is impacting on NZ so much, and sometimes the genie can never be put back into the bottle. I want my kids and grandkids to have the NZ I and my family enjoyed, not an overcrowded, chaotic, un Kiwi like lost paradise.
    Such a fantastic country, now being squandered. Do potential immigrants realise how chaotic, harsh and expensive Auckland now is?

    • ropata 20.1

      Of course not, it’s heaven compared to Mumbai or Beijing or Jakarta

    • michelle 20.2

      Immigration is our 2nd most important issue housing is our first, health our 3rd and education our 4th, all of these areas are under stress and are showing signs of falling by the wayside due to the tories slashing and cutting so much for better public services its all been a lie and spin for 9 years we have all been waiting for the brighter future we were all promised but it hasn’t happened and the main spinner has gone he sprayed and walked away leaving his big mess behind.

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