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More bluster, still no policies

Written By: - Date published: 4:01 pm, June 20th, 2008 - 49 comments
Categories: im/migration, national, slippery - Tags:

Every month, Stats releases migration figures. Each month, they show little change in the pattern from last month. And each month, National comes out all in a fury over the figures as if they herald Armageddon while offering no substance, just a lot of bluster.

Nothing has changed from April. In the month of April, a net 3210 Kiwis emigrated to Aussie, in May 2,833. We are at a high point of the migration cycle, and it remains well within the trends of previous cycles. Net immigration in the April year was 4666, in the May year: 4,931.  As before, in the last year 99.33% of Kiwis liked New Zealand so much they stayed here.

We could have a serious debate about how to improve wages and public services so more people will stay here but National’s ‘New Zealand sucks’ campaign is not about serious debate. This is just another hit and run attack from National designed to sow discontent, not provide answers.

No mention in the Nats’ press release of the wage gap they used to be so obsessed with, either. Because they’ve got no policy, no answer, only attack lines and they think that’s all it will take to get them back into power.

49 comments on “More bluster, still no policies ”

  1. T-rex 1

    Steve – check the second to last sentence of your first paragraph.

    That seems like an unlikely figure for net migration within a month? I think you mean gross emigration.

    Interesting to look at net long term arrivals over the past ten years.

    This list is long term arrivals – long term departures.

    1,056
    -11,343
    -9,063
    -11,114
    31,231
    42,541
    23,983
    8,799
    10,192
    10,682
    4,931

    So some people leave, and even more come here to replace them.

    In a few months I’m going to be along term departure-er.

    I’m gonna write an open letter to National when I do, and explain precisely what kind of country I hope to come back to in 10 years time.

  2. T-rex 2

    Lol, you just changed graphs on me!!!

  3. mike 3

    “and they think that’s all it will take to get them back into power.”

    Steve the way labour are self-distructing (corrections the latest fiasco)the Nats don’t even need to attack.

    Why are you not more critical of Labours failing tactics and inability to stop the bleeding?

  4. I think the concern some people have surrounding the migration numbers has more to do with “churn” than the actual net numbers. Departure numbers rose strongly over the past 18 months, and arrivals have risen strongly as well – helping to keep the net number positive.

    But, the people that are leaving often have specific skills (they are used to working inside New Zealand businesses), while new arrivals need time to get this new institutional knowledge (its sort of like learning by doing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning-by-doing). As a result, this churn of employees could be damaging productivity even if the net inflow of people is not changing much.

    The fact that much of the new labour we get in is skilled should help to moderate this impact, however I can understand why this feature of the migration numbers may still be concerning

  5. mike. we are. look at the hit and run post, it’s critical of Labour, look at our posts on what we think labour and the greens should do policywise, there’s dozens of them.

  6. kk 6

    “Nats don’t even need to attack.”

    The Nats have been constantly attacking, I mean what’s been the point of this post? National are clearly misleading the public in despiration. They simply don’t represent the average NZer.

    The wage gap, emigration to Australia, North of $50 tax cut… it’s all emotional

    Has the standard not successfully countered these claims?

  7. Steve: “We are at a peak point of the migration cycle”: so do you have some numbers to prove that we are at the peak of the cycle ?

    Previous upsurges in migration to Australia occurred during times of economic downturn in New Zealand, this one has occurred during a period of economic growth. With even Michael Cullen forecasting recession surely it is more likely that migration to Australia will increase rather than fall away.

  8. roger nome 8

    Bryan:

    “Previous upsurges in migration to Australia occurred during times of economic downturn in New Zealand, this one has occurred during a period of economic growth.”

    As did the huge down-turn in net migration. Which would tend to indicate that there’s more to it than economic circumstances in NZ. What about economic circumstances in Aus? What about the global minerals bull-market, and the massive increase in wages in the mining sector?

    All we can take out of this is that National’s migration attack lines are spurious and misleading.

  9. Quoth the Raven 9

    But, the people that are leaving often have specific skills

    I suggest you look at this Standard post.
    From the Independent Financial Review:
    Far from losing our “best and brightest’ as business lobby groups insist about half of Kiwi migrants are blue collar or “no collar’ workers, according to departure card information collated by Statistics New Zealand

    It’s that old reality thing again. You National supporters really struggle with it.

  10. Matt:”helping to keep the net number positive.”

    Net long term migration has been steadily trending down and is currently negative.

    [yeah maybe if you use Bernard Hickey as your source (whatever happened to his daily blogs on govt waste, anyway). If you use a reputable source like Stats NZ, there is net migration, just a touch under 5000 last year. SP]

  11. ” Net long term migration has been steadily trending down and is currently negative.”

    Seasonally adjusted monthly net migration has not been negative for a long time (go to the tables to check, http://www.stats.govt.nz/products-and-services/hot-off-the-press/external-migration/external-migration-may08-hotp.htm?page=para004Master).

    Net migration is almost always negative in May for seasonal factors – not adjusting for that is highly inappropriate.

    Also as the person in the black text underneath says, it is better to look at annual totals than monthly totals anyway – as even seasonal adjustment can be a bit finicky

  12. burt 12

    Looking at the graph and reading this post I can interpret the following.

    As shown by the graph net emigration doubled in 5 years under National and that was really really bad.

    It’s doubled in 5 years under Labour and that’s OK because it’s just part of a cycle as evidenced by the graph.

    CAPTCHA: em- country : Spooky thing this standard captcha.

  13. alex 13

    99.33% means 0.67% of kiwis emigrated… that’s almost 1%.
    If that rate continues over the next 100 years how many kiwis would be left back in NZ?

    If 99.9% or higher stayed in NZ that would be impressive, 99.33% I’m not so sure.

  14. bill brown 14

    If that rate continues over the next 100 years how many kiwis would be left back in NZ?

    Well:

    Some people reproduce
    Some people come back
    Some people from other countries come here

    So I would say, more Kiwis will live in NZ in one hundred years than live here now.

    And we’ll all be flying hydrogen powered helicopters – yippee!

    And the capcha’s IGNORES con-, which is just freaky

  15. T-rex 15

    Alex – I’ve got no prob with you so don’t take this as a personal attack, just putting the “issue” in perspective.

    Actually it’d have to increase by another 50% before it was 1%, but whatever.

    “If that rate continues over the next 100 years how many kiwis would be left back in NZ?”

    0.9933^100 = 51%

    OH NO!

    Of course… those people coming TO NZ are in many cases returning, and in other cases immigrants… who kinda BECOME kiwis, unless you’re so xenophobic as to declare that you’re only a kiwi if you were NZ born and living here on the 21st of june 2008.

    Lets be ultra pessimistic, and say it takes 20 years to become complimentary to ‘kiwi’ culture, and that every person who comes here is completely incompatible (ignoring the fact that we’re actually a multicultural nation already etc etc, worst case the sky is falling).

    Given that net immigration is currently positive, despite the terrible exodus, and that we’re seeing 0.66% leave each year, and that all of the people who leave are well adjusted ‘Kiwis’ and everyone who arrives are cannibals from indonesian tribes who enjoy ritual sacrifice… we get…

    0.9933^20 = 87% purebred kiwis after 20 years. But by that point, all the ones who arrived at the start of our timeframe are fully integrated, so it never gets any lower.

    So, even if you’re a crazy xenophobe with an incredibly restrictive definition of ‘Kiwi’, you’re still going to have a country absolutely full of them.

    If you’re anyone who’s even remotely reasonable you’d barely bother to consider the issue, except for saying hi to your neighbors regardless of where they happen to be from.

  16. T-rex 16

    Helicopters are noisy and slow Bill.

    I want one of these puppies

  17. bill brown 17

    Quicker – probably,
    Quieter – not so much!

    Not so sure of the crap coming out of the exhaust either.

  18. T-rex 18

    Pfft, details!

    Crap coming out of the exhaust isn’t so flash, but you could run it on a oxyhydrogen mix just as readily as you could a helicopter (probably more so, since it’s a far more potentially efficient design in terms of general aerodynamics – wing rather than rotor disc).

    Also it is more awesome than… well, pretty much anything ever.

    Actually, the fact that we can send a probe to mars and land it without breaking and dig around and find water is pretty awesome.

    If they find strong evidence of life I’m going to cheer my ass off.

  19. NOYB 19

    It’s not hard to have net positive migration: you just increase the flow of immigrants to New Zealand by turning on the tap faster. There are plenty of people from different parts of the world wanting to come to New Zealand, from China, South Africa, Korea, etc. That isn’t the same as returning New Zealanders and the experience shows that many immigrants to New Zealand stay long enough just to get their New Zealand passport and then move to Australia.

    The real damage is in the number of New Zealand-born people moving to Australia and not coming back, and the small number of New Zealand-born people choosing not to return to New Zealand.

    Steve Pierson is again trying to fudge some pretty dodgy figures to begin with to spin his silly argument. New Zealand has experienced, according to the Standard, the longest sustained period of economic growth in several generations, yet increasingly New Zealanders are proving that they have no confidence in their ability to make a decent living in New Zealand, by choosing to move elsewhere.

  20. T-rex 20

    NOYB – I’ll give you ten minutes to find the glaring inconsistency in your argument while I make a coffee.

    Sorry. Inconsistencies.

  21. outofbed 21

    NYOB by name NYOB by nature

  22. T-rex 22

    It’s not hard to have net positive migration: you just increase the flow of immigrants to New Zealand by turning on the tap faster.

    Assuming of course that they want to come here… meaning your country needs to be a nice place to live.

    the experience shows that many immigrants to New Zealand stay long enough just to get their New Zealand passport and then move to Australia

    Right… so the people who you claim we allow to immigrate to keep our population up actually go on to emigrate a few years later, featuring in our LOWER emigration statistics. So most of our emigrants aren’t departing kiwis, but departing recent arrivals. Oh no call batman.

    The real damage is in the number of New Zealand-born people moving to Australia and not coming back, and the small number of New Zealand-born people choosing not to return to New Zealand.

    Sorry? First, as I indicate above, WHAT real damage? Second – you say yourself, the SMALL NUMBER. Yes. It’s a small number.

    Additionally, for an argument to appeal to those of you who resent low earners… who do you think the allure of Australia’s high incomes is greater for? Those on a low income who are forced to compromise their lifestyle, or those on a high income who aren’t? Rhetorical question – obviously if your logic is correct then the immigrants will be the poor people, not the rich ones.

    In reality, NZ IS a great place to live, which is why barely anyone leaves, and those that do largely come back.

  23. T-rex 23

    And for the xenophobes in the audience…

    The liquor store owner in Auckland who was shot recently was an indian immigrant. He owned a business and was a really nice guy by all accounts.

    What the hell is wrong with people like that choosing to move to NZ? If anything we should be getting them to bring their friends.

    Maybe, if we’re really lucky, they’ll get enough for a lynch mob and deal to the guys who shot him.

    Difficult upbringing and societal abandonment are terrible things, but if you shoot someone for a few beers and leave laughing then you’re right off my ‘nice’ list.

  24. NOYB 24

    No T-Rex it wasn’t a xenophobic argument. You’re too quick to pull out the racist card.

    In general, new immigrants are not as immediately productive as current New Zealanders. They take time to adjust to new systems, new locations, new languages. Simply saying you don’t have a migration problem when 80,000 New Zealanders depart, to be replaced by 80,000 migrants is nonsense.

    Yes there are plenty of places in the world less desirable to live than New Zealand. But we don’t market ourselves as being slightly more desirable than China or India. We aspire to being as desirable to live in as Australia, Britain, or the US. If the government wanted to it could open the taps and we’d have an extra million people living here.

    Right now far more New Zealanders are choosing to live in Australia and Britain than are Australians and Brits prepared to live in New Zealand.

  25. T-rex 25

    Did you read what I wrote above on the actual numbers?

    Yes, people come and people go. The same thing happens with employees in companies all them time and the world doesn’t come to an end.

    It prevents cultural and economic stagnation. It’s a good thing!

    If no one left and no one arrived, THEN I’d be worried

  26. I think the problem is people leaving for economic reasons. Welfare people seldom do that, and people doing really well seldom do it either. I can tell you from personal experience it is a lot harder to do well in NZ than the US or UK. Even complete idiots can do well in the US.

    Whether Labour has made this worse I’m not sure (how can you tell anyway, without a parallel universe to compare against), but they certainly haven’t tried to make it better. Policies have all been about soaking and beating the rich, crowding as many people into welfare as possible (WFF) and directly employing as many voters as they can afford. Whether people think rationally about staying or going is highly debatable, but these sorts of things create negative feeling. How many people do you know who have said ‘stuff it, I’m off to Aus’. Half my (enormous) extended family lives there.

    And those who think you can entice people back with silly advertising campaigns or bribe them with student loan incentives: be careful. The former will probably head back just long enough to buy a nice holiday home. The latter will just resent their birth country for the golden handcuffs.

    I wouldn’t be crowing about losing nearly 1% of the population in a year – I’m sure that wasn’t your intention. But how about some thoughts as to how to reverse it. I won’t be the last rat to leave.

  27. Daveski 27

    Hey mod … isn’t this a bit boring and repetitive?? 🙂

    Funny, there was an article in the Dom Post today saying exactly the opposite.

    NZ has had 9 brilliant years of economic wonders under Labour … yet NZers still leave for Australia. What do you think will happen when the proverbial hits the fan (and I’m not talking about the mod modding me either!).

    The same article pointed out that one of the main problems is the Labour’s targetting of the “rich pricks” – the politics of envy.

    But then that’s a media beat up isn’t it?

  28. r0b 28

    The same article pointed out that one of the main problems is the Labour’s targetting of the “rich pricks’ – the politics of envy.

    Sure beats National’s targeting of the poor – the politics of greed.

    But then that’s a media beat up isn’t it?

    Pretty much, yeah.

  29. burt 29

    Ugggg Labour flog the rich – grunt – so National must flog the poor. Grunt. Uggg – Labour good – National bad.

  30. It seems a poor time to say so, burt, but I thought your comment at Cameron’s blog was immensely appropriate and showed real integrity.

    (Ugggggg)

  31. burt 31

    Robinsod

    It’s a crap post. It lowers my opinion of him. Bloody hell I agreed with NRT today, I told DPF he made a crap argument as well. Must be the Ritalin.

    Cheers.

  32. zANavAShi 32

    …or the Blue Fairy visited you in the night and Robinsod is Jiminy Cricket?

    (Awwwww)

  33. Clinton,
    You are wrong. Here’s why.
    http://www.interest.co.nz/ratesblog/index.php/2008/06/22/the-emigration-surge-to-australia-is-not-normal/

    On your comments about my focus on government spending a lack of posts. My apologies to you and others looking forward to regular posts. I’ve been unable to post because of a family funeral. I’m back now and will have to work hard to catch up on my promise of one a day. There’s a post in the locker at http://www.stuff.co.nz/showmethemoney that will be published in the next day or two to get things cracking again.
    I’m enjoying the Standard. You should take advertising to help pay for some of your publishing costs…

    cheers
    Bernard

    [lprent: Why bother with advertising. It doesn’t cost me much. I would say less than smoking, but I’m giving that up]

  34. erikter 34

    “I’m enjoying the Standard. You should take advertising to help pay for some of your publishing costs.”

    Sound suggestion, although the question is: does The Standard need it? They appear to have an endless source of funds.

    Of course, the Labour Party has nothing to do with it!

    [lprent: Ah the Wishart style of ‘facts’. Take two correct statements, put them together and insinuate a totally incorrect conclusion. The dickhead lie that assumes the audience is stupid – I am not.

    Care to offer any reason I shouldn’t give you the boot for lying about me?]

  35. T-rex 35

    I’m enjoying the Standard. You should take advertising to help pay for some of your publishing costs

    LOL!

    GROSSLY disingenuous suggestion I fear! For the sake of $70 a month you’d get to face endless heckling about various EFA infringements! What a BARGAIN!

    I’ll go through your post in detail later on, from a first read your conclusions are too speculative to warrant a statement such as “you are wrong”. However, I like the way you write and act – nice to have you here.

  36. bill brown 36

    I think the problem is people leaving for economic reasons

    Reading this:

    The grass isn’t greener across the Ditch

    I would say that people are leaving for perceived economic reasons.

  37. erikter: “Labour has started The Standard.” Colin Espiner appears to agree with you.

  38. bill brown: “I would say that people are leaving for perceived economic reasons.”

    The Sunday Star Times article was interesting (though the link you gave appears to go nowhere now).

    It was interesting that the examples they offered for housing were within 4km of the central city, I suspect the situation would be similarly unaffordable within 4 kms of downtown Auckland i.e. Herne Bay, Newmarket, Parnell, Remuera, Ponsonby. It would be interesting to compare Botany Downs with its equivalent in Australia: this is more the kind of dormitory suburb young families would be headed to.

  39. T-rex 39

    Lynn – It might just be me but you seem to be getting pretty heavy handed with the ban threats lately. Is this nicotine deprivation frustration, or is there a policy drift going on? I don’t really like most of the people you threaten anyway, but I’m just really wary of bans. I assume you want to keep this a forum for ideas and not a podium for moderated speech? Irish, you made a similar comment about “not appreciating being told how to run our blog” just the other day.
    I know we’re guests, and you are hosts. But why the menace?

    Maybe it’s not really menace and I’m just overly sensitive to it. The rules on banning just seem very subjective.

    Bernard, I re-read your article and can barely be bothered commenting on it. I think your analysis is quite weak. A couple of points.

    1)

    My view is that the long term decline in our productivity growth and our foreign-debt fuelled property investment and consumption binge of the last 5 years have left us weaker than our Trans-Tasman neighbours, with slower growth and a similar inflation problem.

    We need a dose of long term tax reform, a more robust inflation-fighting monetary policy framework, more productive government spending and an infrastructure building spending spree, as opposed to a townhouse and apartment building spree. This might do something to make us more attractive to our own people

    Tax policy clearly will have almost no impact on the disparities you mention earlier in the piece, especially since you’re simultaneously condemning what people DO with their discretionary income when they have it. The rest of your second paragraph is just meaningless platitudes.

    2.

    That argument also ignores New Zealand’s own abilities to profit from the great Asian growth surge. We have huge advantages as a producer of clean, green food and as a quiet, fresh and safe place for newly rich Asian middle classes to visit.

    That’s your vision for NZ? Farming and tourism? Oh yeah, real high value stuff that – if we followed your guidelines then all the professionals who are leaving would really have a reason!

    You also ignore my point above, that the actual level of immigration is almost meaninglessly small and is unlikely to result in any long term skill or culture shift, and the stuff article which Bill linked to (functional link here), which says that (with the obvious exception of those who are unemployed in NZ and become employed in Aus) many are likely to be worse off economically in Australia.

  40. T-rex

    Oy T-rex what are you saying here?

    Crap coming out of the exhaust isn’t so flash, but you could run it on a oxyhydrogen mix just as readily as you could a helicopter

  41. T-rex 41

    Just talking to bill about helicopters and person-sized jet wings.

    If you’re wondering about the oxyhydrogen reference – Things like jets and helicopters traditionally require fuels with high energy and power density. While there are numerous replacement technologies potentially becoming available in the time frame we’re talking about, they’ll both be equally applicable to each technology, so not really relevant. I just took the most obvious existing one – reasonably high power density combustible which would work in a gas turbine engine and was low emission (I’d say zero, except there are some issues with high-atmosphere water vapour).

  42. T-rex 42

    Although really you’d never carry the oxygen around with you. Way too heavy considering it’s abundantly available all around.

    I think the only reason the electrolysis systems you’re playing with inject oxyhydro rather than just hydrogen is that you’re generating it anyway and it’s far less effort just to squirt it in as well than to try and separate the two (for no benefit).

  43. bill brown 43

    yeah, but in 100 years I’ll want to go out of the atmosphere, so taking O(subscript)2 will be necessary anyway.

  44. T-rex 44

    Nah, combustion will be old hat by then 🙂
    Unless you meant to breath.

    Maybe breathing will be old hat by then too though. 100 years? You’re a nano-medicine fan then?

  45. T-rex 45

    Your helicopter wouldn’t work in space anyway 😉

    Mods – after careful consideration (while driving to buy delicious iskender kebab for dinner, mmm) I decided that actually “We’ll ban you if you piss us off” is a fantastic system and subjective justice is fine with me. If you’ve got the time to apply it, more power to you!

  46. Dan 46

    The NZ Sucks Party will be cancelling their Sunday Star Times subscriptions today. At last someone is writing in depth on the reality that the grass is not so green as Key and the Kiwi Sucks Party make out on the other side of the Tasman.
    Well done SST.

  47. lprent 47

    T-Rex: Partially will be nicotine. But mostly ‘policy’.

    I do tend to cycle my moderation anyway for general uncertainty reasons. The point is that if we stuck in actual written down rules or followed a absolutely consistent pattern, then some damn legal orientated person will try to rort the system. So what we have is vigilante justice with some general principles which each of us interpretes as we choose and as we have time. That leaves it up to the commentators to assess their own level of risk.

    You’ll note that I usually warn first these days. But I’m quite sarcastic because a lot of this should be obvious to anyone who has bothered read the blog comments before putting in their penny’s worth. Hell if they read the policy it’d be obvious. So I reward stupidity.

    So it is subjective and yes we’re very aware of the need to not stifle debate. But we’re also aware of what happens when it isn’t moderated. It was tried and we got threads with massive number of comments with essentially zero useful content.

    It seems to work for the majority of the commentators both left and right and other. Certainly shows up in the quality of the comments.

  48. bill brown 48

    “Your helicopter wouldn’t work in space anyway”

    You’re right – I think you may have a convert – baby steps.

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