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Little on immigration

Written By: - Date published: 2:09 pm, May 8th, 2017 - 34 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, housing, im/migration, infrastructure, jobs, labour - Tags:

Immigration is a sensitive issue. In proposing a slowdown on the current record levels of immigration the Labour party has to tread very carefully indeed. I think Andrew Little has it pretty much right in his piece in The Herald today:

Andrew Little: Time to take a breather on immigration

New Zealand is a country built on immigration. We are all the better for the skills and rich culture immigrants bring. … Having a public debate about how we manage immigration is not an attack on the idea of immigration nor on any person who has settled here from overseas.

Everything Labour says on immigration should start with those sentences.

Immigration is an issue we have to get right. If we ignore it, unscrupulous people will fuel resentment against immigrants to create a politics of division and nationalism, as we are seeing overseas. No one should want that for New Zealand.

There will always be those (hello Winston) prepared to feed resentment and anger. NZ is not immune to the possibility of some day electing a Trump-like demagogue. The best defence is to frame the discussion positively and have it in the open.

The fact is, our infrastructure and our public services can’t keep up with the record number of people coming into the country. We need to take a breather until we can catch up.

Bill English and National haven’t made the investments to keep up with immigration: roads are clogged; schools are filled to bursting; houses are unaffordable. Instead of investing, he has cut our public services and transport spending. You can see the results everywhere, especially in Auckland. Aucklanders are telling me their quality of life is falling.

I would be 100% opposed to permanent low limits on immigration. But I think that a reduction while infrastructure gets sorted makes sense. Those currently arguing for high levels of immigration have completely failed to do the planning and building required to support it – they want the sugar hit of “growth” but they don’t want to pay for it.

Recent immigrants tell me the Kiwi dream they were promised has been replaced by a reality of unaffordable housing and gridlock.

Immigration is growing because, instead of supplying the valuable skills New Zealand needs to prosper, the system is increasingly being used to bring in low-skill, low-wage workers. In the last year, thousands of work visas were approved for jobs like waiters, luggage porters, and domestic housekeepers.

When 139,000 Kiwis are unemployed, we should be focusing on getting them into these jobs. It’s not okay just to leave them on the dole and leave taxpayers to pick up the bill.

The Government’s own officials warned about hiring workers from overseas, when we have unemployment at current levels that denies work opportunities to local workers. It’s not a good outcome for those migrant workers, either. Many of them are paid just above, or even below, the minimum wage.

Immigration should be win-win. National has made it lose-lose.

So what will Labour do?

I’ll be releasing Labour’s policy soon. My guiding principle is that the system has to be fair, both for people who are already here and for new migrants.

Right now, we have to reduce the numbers coming here. New Zealand cannot cope with a net 72,000 immigrants a year. We need to reduce that by tens of thousands. At the same time, we need to reverse National’s cuts and invest in housing, transport, and our strained hospitals and schools. A properly run immigration system would make it easy to bring in people with skills we need to help New Zealand prosper, but we must stop the abuse of the system by dodgy employers who want to import workers on the cheap.

Where there are real skill shortages, we need to invest more in training New Zealanders to do those jobs, rather than leaving them idle on the dole and permanently relying on immigration to plug the gaps.

We need to stop the rort that sees people overseas being sold meaningless qualifications here on the promise that it’s a pathway to residency.

We must also maintain New Zealand’s proud history of caring for those in need, by doubling the refugee quota to 1500. Slowing down economic immigration does not mean closing our hearts to victims of war and disaster.

Let’s invest in the services and infrastructure we need to support a growing population. Let’s make immigration a win-win again.

The details of the policy are going to be carefully scrutinised, so Labour better get it right.

34 comments on “Little on immigration”

  1. roy cartland 1

    Immigration without the infrastructural support doesn’t do any favours for immigrants. It’s bad for everyone. (Oh except those who won’t raise wages enough to be acceptable to the “lazy kiwis”.)

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    The fact is, our infrastructure and our public services can’t keep up with the record number of people coming into the country.

    In other words, to keep up with the present inflow of immigrants we’d need to raise taxes – probably quite considerably – as large numbers of immigrants cost a huge amount.

    I would be 100% opposed to permanent low limits on immigration.

    That’s because you’re not thinking in terms of economics and how many people the country can actually, sustainably, support. This isn’t about money either but about the actual physical resources available to us.

    Let’s invest in the services and infrastructure we need to support a growing population.

    How about we look at how many people NZ can support first rather than continuing the ongoing destruction of our environment by having an ever increasing number of people?

    • weka 2.1

      And that opens a wider conversation about population growth and growth economies. I too think that we need to be looking at this from an ecological pov not just an economic and social one.

      So we have our own internal population growth (birth rate relative to death rate), plus that from taking in refugees (a no brainer), plus the increase from tourism (3.5 million extra people over a year), plus inbound immigration. And that’s offset by outbound emigration and Kiwis going overseas temporarily. What’s the capacity of the land base and watersheds to provide for that, not just this decade but in perpetuity?

      NZ’s ecological footprint is currently at 2.1 planets. i.e. if everyone lived like Kiwis we’d need 2.1 planets. Obviously we can power down to an extent, and convert to sustainable tech, but we live on a finite planet and a finite set of islands, so why are we not factoring in the physics of that? Or are we expecting other places to provide for us?

      • Poission 2.1.1

        so why are we not factoring in the physics of that?

        In Calculus the simplest equation is the logistic equation,from this we can derive the Malthus equation (for the carrying capacity of an object) leaving aside the mathematical problems ,clearly unfettered growth needs significant constraint.

        Malthus statement.

        A man who is born into a world already possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents on whom he has a just demand, and if the society do not want his labour, has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At nature’s mighty
        feast there is no vacant cover for him. She tells him to be gone, and will quickly execute her own orders, if he does not work upon the compassion of some of her guests. If these guests get up and make room for him, other intruders immediately appear demanding the same favour. The report
        of a provision for all that come, fills the hall with numerous claimants. The order and harmony of the feast is disturbed, the plenty that before reigned is changed into scarcity; and the happiness of the guests is destroyed by the spectacle of misery and dependence in every part of the hall, and
        by the clamorous importunity of those, who are justly enraged at not finding the provision which they had been taught to expect. The guests learn too late their error, in counter-acting those strict orders to all intruders, issued by the great mistress of the feast, who, wishing that all guests should
        have plenty, and knowing she could not provide for unlimited numbers, humanely refused to admit fresh comers when her table was already full.

      • Bill 2.1.2

        If that 2.1 is an average, and if Pareto’s rule holds (it generally does), then half of us are well within a one planet ecological footprint.

        • weka 2.1.2.1

          I don’t think it’s an average at the personal level. You and I both use roads, that road came with a set cost irrespective of how much we each use that road. Much of NZ’s footprint is spread over the nation as a whole and the infrastructure we believe we need as well as the standard of living.

          Domestic food miles is one of the biggest parts of NZ’s footprint (and remember this is ecological footprinting, not just carbon footprinting). If we buy food from the supermarket we are engaged in a high cost footprint. Sure, the person buying lots of out of season food is going to be higher than the person buying cheap food, but the cost of transporting from the NI to Dunedin is still there regardless. In other words, this isn’t just an individual thing. Both people need to be buying locally grown food.

          And that still doesn’t actually address the issues of sustainability. If Dunedin people were to switch to buying predominantly local food, what population can *that landbase and watersheds support? 100,000? 1,000,000? Who knows, because afaik no-one is doing that work. We do know that just because of climate that the NI supported a larger population pre FF than the SI. We can probably improve on that because we have different tech now, but those are the real world issues that need to be looked at.

          I dropped the ecological footprinting thing in because it’s an easy way to point to use being in overshoot. But it’s a pretty blunt instrument when we get down to the nitty gritty.

          • Bill 2.1.2.1.1

            No argument from me against the need for radical deep change in how we live as a society.

            However, if Pareto’s Rule can be applied across all resource use to give a broad, though simplified idea of what’s what, then…

            100% of the population = 2.1 planets across all resource use and something like 10% of that population is chewing through about 50% of those resources (one entire planet).

            What that suggests is a need for 10% of us to crash out of our face stuffing ways in a very major fashion.

            If the likes of Oxfam’s study on carbon can be applied to general resource use (and I can’t see any immediate reason it can’t be or shouldn’t be), then there may be a case for some us increasing our resource use in the short term to get out of what might be termed ‘resource poverty’ and all that goes with it (ill health etc).

            And that requires the face stuffing 10% and at least the upper edges of the middle 40% of the population to cut the crap they currently indulge themselves in that bit faster.

            Happily, no-one has figured a way that can be done within the context of Capitalism which just reinforces the need for deep, radical change. 🙂

            • weka 2.1.2.1.1.1

              I don’t see how that has anything to do with what I just explained though. How would you apply Pareto’s Rule to roading? Or food distribution?

              • weka

                and, even if what you say were true, we still need to know the carrying capacity of the NZ land base in order to figure out what’s the upper limit on population.

                I’d also point out that much of our resource supply and manufacturing is outsourced. If we had to make our own shoes here again for instance, what would be the footprint of that?

                • Bill

                  Yup. A whole pile of balances need to be understood/maintained.

                  The Oxfam and other studies focused on end user use.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2.2

          http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33133712

          We’re up there with the US and Australia in our resource use per person.

  3. RedLogix 3

    The big one that I’ve mentioned before is going to be the 660,000 odd Kiwis finding themselves increasingly unwelcome in Australia. Most never obtain Permanent Residency or Citizenship and many will ultimately return to NZ once retirement looms.

    I’d guess that they could amount to somewhere between 10 -20,000 extra people arriving per year over the next 20 years.

    • Bill 3.1

      Hmm. That would take us out to 2040. I’m thinking many, many more than just the 660 000 kiwis currently living there are going to be looking to flee that continent before those 20 years are up RL. (AGW)

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        True enough Bill. But my point is that these people are already New Zealanders, and no foreseeable immigration policy can stop them returning.

        For several decades we blithered along happy for Aus to be the safety valve for our employment and housing markets … and now they’re slowly but surely screwing it shut.

    • Yep its a bit of a waste those people over there making money for themselves and doing other things and then coming back to this country because the country they lived and loved in doesn’t like or want them. Not a dig red but it must feel stink. They could have stayed home and helped US out.

  4. This is what Labour should have sounded like from the beginning. Maybe this is what Iain Lees-Galloway would have been saying if he had consulted comms people though, who knows.

    It’s certainly reasonable to look at how many international students we want to convert into permanent residents, too, especially as we pump out a lot of unnecessary degrees atm in fields that are over-saturated.

    • Karen 4.1

      It is better from Labour but they need to get a policy out that provides some detail of how and over what period they intend to cut immigration numbers. I can’t see how they can cut immigration by 10s of thousands without major impacts on health providers and the building industry.

      Personally, I’d like to see a policy that ensured all workers received a living wage and better working conditions with very heavy penalties for any employer that exploited migrant labour.

      I’d also like to see a joint immigration policy from Labour and the Greens.

  5. esoteric pineapples 5

    Why have significant immigration at all? New Zealand is one of the last countries in the world where people aren’t driving each other mad by being surrounded by each other.

  6. saveNZ 6

    Sounds good to me. I’d like to stop immigration for a while but maybe have some sort of system of exchange of nationalities visa’s but in areas like arts, music and community service, nothing to do with money, politics and power.

    It’s all good and well talking about cultural exchanges but often people who are skilled at culture are not part of the exchange.

    Lets try to jettison neoliberalism by going back to what’s important – not money and assets, cheap labour and power – but exchanges of real ideas and getting to know other culture’s for it’s intrinsic value.

    If you want to have peace and prosperity and globalism, it’s a much better way to get it, than weapons.

  7. Ad 7

    I can understand why Little is required to explain himself in better detail, but he should read Simon Wilson’s article:

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/04-05-2017/hey-bill-english-its-time-to-champion-auckland/

    Immigration is a part of the problem called Auckland, and when we’re honest, Auckland causes most of New Zealand’s problems. Immigration is one problem.

    What we were promised in 2010 from this government was that there would finally be a joined up view of Auckland that was united across central and local government, and in which transport, immigration, health, police, justice, water and indeed coherent government assuring coherent society would be formed – a new beginning.

    It must happen.

    What I want from a future progressive government is one that is coherent. Seems such a small goal, until that test base is Auckland. Auckland causes the problems, and those problems are now so big that they pull the country down and require central and local and private and NGO and media and citizens to be impelled to think that pulling Auckland’s society away from teetering collapse requires work like we have never seen in a while.

    Little needs to broaden away from one topic, and show functioning coherence.

    • simonm 7.1

      “…and when we’re honest, Auckland causes most of New Zealand’s problems.”

      Wow! That’s really sharp analysis from you buddy. *rolls eyes*

      Auckland also provides 50% of NZ’s tax revenue, which pays for schools and hospitals in other parts of the country. Oddly enough Auckland never gets any credit for that from bozos like you….

  8. Jeremy 8

    Venezuela, Nauru, Syria. We need to be bringing in more immigrants, not less.

  9. Wainwright 9

    Might’ve been a bit smarter to “tread carefully” BEFORE announcing they’re going to cut “tens of thousands” of migrant visas and open the door to the usual racist Winstonning. Keith Ng puts it better than me;
    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/27-04-2017/an-ugly-great-can-of-winston-the-inescapable-result-of-labours-immigration-push/

  10. keepcalmcarryon 10

    Little spoke well.
    The only bit I’d quibble with is the negative connotation put to “Nationalism.”
    Unless we want foreign corporates to continue increasingly taking power in this country then we need to re-remember what self determination and governance means.
    A small point but an important one for me.

  11. James 11

    “The details of the policy are going to be carefully scrutinised, so Labour better get it right.”

    So true – but I’m guessing it will be light on detail, or the numbers won’t add up, or it will be based of assumptions that they didn’t make clear.

    Time will tell.

    • Enough is Enough 11.1

      There is essentially two policy positions

      Firstly set standards fir who you will we will let in. Anyone whose meets those standrads is let in. This is what wecurrently have

      Secondly. Number 1 with a cap.

      Do we want a cap?

      • saveNZ 11.1.1

        The standards are set for a low wage, economy with a side order of land Asset ponzi scheme.

        Do we want that society? It’s the immigration standards themselves that have to change.

    • fender 11.2

      Takes bugger-all time to tell that you will pick holes in it from any angle you can.

      Hosking might tell you what to say.

  12. Incognito 12

    It is great to see that AL and Labour have not forgotten about the real plight of international refugees; they tend to get lost in the noisy immigration ‘debate’ but they ought to be at the front of the queue and on our minds first and foremost. So far, the ‘debate’ has centred on self-interest rather.

  13. Tanz 13

    Kiwi Kiwis are being sold out, pure and simple. Betrayed and crushed under, and our country is fast becoming another land. Our past is being swept away in one fell swoop. No on asked the people, and now we will soon resemble overcrowded Bangkok and alike. Such utter, blatant betrayal, yet lets virtue signal and be all pc. Winston will bag the election over this issue, and then he will sell out, most likely, for the baubles of office. There is no one to vote for anymore, nothing but nodding heads in charge. The electorate is treated with barely concealed contempt, especially the old school electorate. The butt of many jokes, no doubt.

    • ropata 13.1

      There’s never going to be a perfect candidate but whatever you do VOTE TO CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT because if we just give up & don’t bother voting we will be stuck like this forever. That’s what the wankers are banking on

  14. Tanz 14

    They all think the same though, the same PC, Marxist group think, like all the Western leaders, who are selling out there own. National and Labour are one and the same, so who does that leave. Winston will choose the govt, and then we have the same again, one way or the other. Puppets for the ghastly and insidious UN. A non vote is a protest of sorts – there is no one worth voting for, no one with courage, conviction and a sense of what the electorate as a whole wants, instead, they all have their own Marxist agendas to pursue, though NZ First is the best of them, slightly to the right.

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    2 days ago
  • Supporting Kiwi businesses to resolve commercial rent disputes
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  • Free period products in schools to combat poverty
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  • Response to charges in New Plymouth
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  • Govt boosts innovation, R&D for economic rebuild
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  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
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  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
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  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
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    4 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
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  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
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  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
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  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
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  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
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  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
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  • Excellent service to nature recognised
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    6 days ago
  • New fund for women now open
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  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
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  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
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  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
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  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
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  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
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  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
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  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
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  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
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    1 week ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
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    1 week ago