Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, April 19th, 2017 - 38 comments
Categories: bill english, election 2017, im/migration, winston peters - Tags: flip-flop, im/migration, tremain, U-turn, wages, winston peters
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.