National’s contradictory stance on Immigration

Written By: - Date published: 8:38 am, December 12th, 2023 - 38 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, immigration, International, labour, national, phil twyford, same old national - Tags:

So Christopher Luxon thinks there is too much immigration.  It was not what he was saying last year.

For instance in March 2022 he was reported as saying this in the Indian News:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says that the Labour government is an anti-immigration government even before it came to power hence it’s so insensitive about the immigrants and split families who are stuck overseas due to border closure. His remark came during an exclusive conversation with The Indian News, on Sunday 27th March. He said he understands the pain and anguish of those migrants who are stuck overseas due to Labour government’s insensitivity towards migrants. He said government’s approach of slow processing of migrants’ application was very much in place even before Covid struck. The visa processing period was increased from 50 to 100 days much before Covid arrived in the country. This is all happening when there is an acute shortage of skilled and non-skilled labour in the country and every single sector of the economy is badly suffering due to this shortage and this is badly impacting New Zealand economy.

Luxon further said National Party is a pro-immigration party and was all praise for his colleague and National Party MP, Erica Stanford, who is also party’s Immigration spokesperson. Luxon claimed that she will make a much better Immigration Minister than Chris Faafoi as she cares for migrants and understands split family migrant’s situation. He said there is no pathway for residency available under the current immigration policies. He said there is wealth of talent available around the world and government should allow all sort of skilled people from world over to make our economy move and get rid of the shortage of skilled labour but nothing much has been done about it in past two years.

The rhetoric was repeated a couple of weeks later.  From Ireland Hendry-Tennent in Newshub:

National leader Christopher Luxon told AM migrants will be key to filling critical staff shortages.

“We are a party that really believes in immigration. We think that migrants have a huge value and a lot of contribution to make to New Zealand,” he said on Wednesday.

“Across all sectors of New Zealand we are short of workers at the moment. We have sent a message to the world that we are fundamentally closed for business. If you’re a migrant coming to New Zealand, you might be a nurse or a doctor, there is currently no pathway to residency.

“If we want to attract the best we have to be the best in terms of an immigration system and an Immigration New Zealand response and we’re not at the moment.”

Luxon said the Government needs to ensure migrants feel New Zealand is a place they can come and “make something of themselves”.

When asked what National would do to attract migrants, Luxon said he would make it easier for people to get a working holiday visa.

And later that year in this press release from National Spokesperson Erica Stanford:

“Labour’s immigration policies have been a disaster. Just five per cent of the 20,000 workers promised in March have arrived, and only 442 Accredited Employer Work Visa applications have been submitted in five weeks despite Immigration New Zealand forecasting 3,500 per month.

“This Labour Government has turned New Zealand into an undesirable destination for migrants. Why would a skilled migrant choose New Zealand in 2022 compared to what Australia can offer?

“Wages are higher in Australia, and the cost of living is lower. It takes the average Kiwi an hour to earn what an Australian makes in 45 minutes. Crime is rising, with ram raids leading the news every morning. Patients are being turned away from critically understaffed emergency departments.

“Even if a migrant was to put this aside, the Government is still yet to announce a pathway to residence for the majority of skilled migrants we desperately need. Without certainty, migrants are much less likely to choose New Zealand.

“It’s not just migrants either. Kiwis are looking overseas and thinking the grass looks greener elsewhere under Labour. In the year to June, 11,500 more people left New Zealand than arrived.

But after all this incessant rhetoric on news that there was a population net gain of 118,000 in the past year Christopher Luxon now thinks that Immigration settings are too loose.  It is a shame he cannot make his mind up.

From Craig McCullough at Radio New Zealand:

The Labour Party has conceded immigration settings may need to be tightened, but rejects National’s criticism of its record.

Speaking on Morning Report on Monday, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon described the system as “a complete hash” which had gone from being “way too restrictive to way too loose” under Labour.

The latest migration figures are expected to be published on Tuesday, with the last update showing a record net gain of 118,800 in the year to September.

Labour’s new immigration spokesperson Phil Twyford said Luxon’s comments were “a little surprising” given National’s calls over the past year.

“They were incessantly calling on Labour to loosen the rules, to bring more people in, to make it easier to bring in workers on temporary visas, so they’re singing from a very different song sheet now.”

Twyford defended the Labour government’s record, saying ministers had opened up settings “for the good of the economy” given the acutely tight labour market.

“You’ve got to remember we were coming off the most extreme skill shortages that we’ve seen in memory.

“It probably is about time for striking a better balance. The indications from the data are that those skill shortages have largely been resolved.

It is a feature of Luxon’s leadership.  He is a master of the use of overtly negative rhetoric that once you look at over time is contradictory.

Eventually people will get sick of it.  Hopefully this happens soon.

38 comments on “National’s contradictory stance on Immigration ”

  1. Ad 1

    An amusing silence from all those screaming employers who were begging for workers a year ago.

    New Zealand had a net gain of 15,800 last year.

    In 2021 we had a net loss of 15,000.

    This is hardly a binge-purge cycle.

    You would struggle to get 5,000 to an All Whites game at the Cake Tin let alone 15,000.

    What we need from this government is:

    – a timetable to empty the motels of struggling families,

    – an end to the deaths of the homeless who are sleeping in tents as we saw in Dunedin yesterday,

    – an effective root-and-branch interrogation of migrant agents who generate modern slavery, and

    – a pay and conditions review of every public sector skill we need to stop being poached by Australia.

    The previous Labour government did not have the luxury of stability, but this National government does and it should be held to account for it.

    • Kat 1.1

      To achieve any of the aforementioned this rabble of a pretend govt would need to know what they are doing, where they are going and how to get there…….the leaders are like three broken magnets in a cracked compass……..needle spinning and no direction home…..

    • Molly 1.2

      Ad, can you provide your link for your stats?

      It's at odds with today's article on interest.co.nz:

      https://www.interest.co.nz/economy/125649/population-gain-migration-running-more-double-previous-record

      "Population growth from migration surged to a new record of 128,919 in the 12 months to the end of October.

      Provisional estimates from Statistics NZ show just under a quarter of a million people (245,648) arrived in New Zealand on a long-term basis in the year to October. Another 116,730 departed long-term, giving a net gain of 128,919.

      That is the biggest net gain ever recorded in any 12 month period.

      Statistics NZ's records for this dataset go back to 2002. The previous high for any equivalent period (year to October) during that time was a net gain of 63,645 in 2016.

      That suggests current migration levels are running at more than double their previous record levels."

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Knob Head has certainly not presented yet as a public intellectual, or as someone with even a rudimentary grasp of running a country.

    Immigration was throttled off during peak COVID and now is on the up as New Zealanders head for Australia and other places and newcomers arrive. But…the infrastructure and services are not here in sufficient quantity–which is why CGT and Wealth Tax need to be seriously considered by all of us.

  3. Luxon in opposition:

    "Wages are higher in Australia, and the cost of living is lower. It takes the average Kiwi an hour to earn what an Australian makes in 45 minutes. Crime is rising, with ram raids leading the news every morning. Patients are being turned away from critically understaffed emergency departments."

    Luxon in government:

    • Repeal FPA's, give landlords free money, ignore the root cause of low productivity, ignore the root causes of crime (sabotaging the health system is still on the to-do list)
  4. SPC 4

    It is not an issue that reflects well on either party.

    Everyone in MBIE knew Labour's June 2022 open slather loosening would result in a disaster.

    https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/applications-now-open-new-work-visa-holders-offshore

    Unlike Stanford's claim about the small numbers coming in under the Accredited Employer Work Visa – June to August which showed a remarkable lack of prescience.

    The question is what sort of advice Labour got and why they made no effort to change things once problems duly emerged, even in election year.

    Then, despite this all being in the media, Luxon acts as if it is all news to him.

    Luxon pledging before October's election to boost migration – saying his National Party wanted "the world's best talent to be able to come here to New Zealand".

    Luxon said on Monday the Government was walking into an immigration system "that's been a complete hash".

    "It's gone from being way too restrictive to being way too loose and we've got to find that balance,"

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/12/new-zealand-s-net-migration-hits-record-high-again.html

    And for all Luxon's words, is there any intent to act within the 100 days on the issue?

  5. Corey 5

    Immigration is way too high, we're looking at a Dunedin arriving every year now, and these people are working in supermarkets not as nurses or builders.

    you're now seeing 200+ people show up to look at rental viewings of $550 rents for 2 bedroom hovels in bloody Christchurch, where only 20 of them will be kiwis and the rest will be new migrants.

    People leave them in tears and rage.

    And that's just chch which has spent 12 years build it's housing stock at pace.

    It's only a matter of time before the housing apocalypse boils over into something very, very very ugly in nz and it frightens me.

    There is going to a massive xenophobic movement in this country and since every party in nz remains deaf to it it's going to be radical movement from outside parliament.

    Labours inaction on housing was despicable and reprehensible, Labour and it's supporters talking about f-ing consents as if they were houses, while Labour did nothing about air b and b destroying the rental market and did nothing to stop the abject humilations property firms starting inflicting on potential renters under their watch.

    And the sad reality is nz is beyond saving.

    Govt cannot fix housing of govt without building houses themselves and nz political parties would rather dump kiwis in hotels (which is not only expensive but hurts our tourism market) than actually building some god damned houses themselves

    A profit driven soe that builds houses is the only way to fix this… But that would entail admiring neoliberalism had failed

    Instead Labour will suck up to places like GJ Gardner to do the job Labour should be doing.

    And as for the new houses in the last six years… Whose living in them? I've never met anyone who lives in one of these ugly box town houses, because average regular people cannot afford the rents of these new houses that Labour pretended were gonna save us.

    What happened in Ireland is going to happen here but our housing market is worse for renters… Our poorest and most vulnerable and our working class are very angry and sooner or later it’s going to boil over.

    • gsays 5.1

      I agree Corey, but the post is about having a free hit on Luxon.

      If Labour's current leader reckons there is no gain in turning Labour left, they are going to chase fewer and fewer votes (because the inequality gap will keep growing) in the centre.

      It would be refreshing to hear any of these senior MPs – Luxon, Hipkins, Stanford, Twyford etc say to employers of, say, welders or truck drivers to invest in their own staff by training, upskilling, paying more, flexible work conditions etc.

      As for importing more nurses from overseas, this brings it's own set of issues. Migrants using NZ as a stepping stone to the greener pastures of Oz, the ethnic mix of the staff not being reflective of the public and the cultural deficit that comes with it.

      • Adrian 5.1.1

        No, it's because going further left just robs the Greens and TPM, there might be a few Marxists or hardline Leninistas holed up in the hills with 19th century blunderbusses but good luck coaching that half dozen down to a polling booth. Hipkins knows that more cooperation on the left is what is required, up to a point.

      • Belladonna 5.1.2

        Migrants using NZ as a stepping stone to the greener pastures of Oz

        There seems to be little evidence that this is occurring currently (although it may have in the past). ATM, any nurse who is qualified to come to NZ (on the preferential visa – so recognized qualifications, and English language proficiency) – is also qualified to go to Australia. If they want to end up in Oz, they'll just go there. There is no need for NZ as a bridge.

        • gsays 5.1.2.1

          That was the korero between two Indian nurses from one of the wards last week.

          • Belladonna 5.1.2.1.1

            Suspect this has more to do with better pay and conditions in Oz attracting Kiwi-based nurses of all origins. Rather than people deliberately using NZ as a springboard to Australia. Certainly there are plenty of Kiwi-born nurses finding the grass greener on the other side of the ditch.

            https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/rotorua-nurse-tracey-morgan-joins-thousands-moving-to-australia/BB27TBW6P5B3PGKDSA3ZALLH6Q/

            For one thing, the residency pathway is still (despite the recent changes) a lot smoother for qualifying immigrants from every other country, than it is for Kiwis to gain Australian residency.

            You could argue that people who have immigrated once, have shallower family roots, and it is easier for them to relocate again. But – equally, people who have shifted country once, are more motivated to set down roots and build stability for their family.

            Also…. anecdata…. One swallow does not a summer make.

            • gsays 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Hey, for sure. No argument with any of that.

              The staffing topic came up in conversation with my wife the other night. While you are right about the greener pastures in Oz, the conversation she cited was two 'colleagues' who, for whatever reason, didn't get into Oz. Which was their first choice. Their plan was to be here for a year or two then make the move.

              I come back to a non neo-liberal solution. Pay the tuition fees and a grant of around $200 weekly to Maori and P.I. candidates. Invest in our own and stop this ideological practice of sub-contracting the training to others. With our sub-par pay, we are hardly getting the cream of the crop.

    • roblogic 5.2

      The Auckland lockdowns didn’t help either… caused supply chain problems all over.

      But Labour pulled out all the stops to get more housing built, FYI 10% of the country's housing stock was built in the last 6 years, that's not "inaction on housing"

      207,200 more homes have been built since Labour came to power, according to the stats released todayThat means one in ten homes in the country was built under this government in less than 6 years, at a rate of 100 a day – despite pandemics & lockdowns…https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/dwelling-and-household-estimates-june-2023-quarter/
      — Clint Smith (@ClintVSmith) July 10, 2023

      • Louis 5.2.1

        yes roblogic.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 5.2.2

        10% of the country's housing stock was built in the last 6 years…

        yes And you try and tell the young people of today that, and they won't believe you.

        But it was a ‘house‘ to us.

        Things are skew whiff, that’s for sure, yet we don’t know how lucky we are, and were.

      • gsays 5.2.3

        I started looking at the link to decipher how close this media liason's korero was to the facts.

        Two pages in and more reading, I will retain my cynicism and note that a spin doctor's tweets will do as a satisfactory source.

        If it was close to the truth, then it's a shame it wasn't shouted from the rooftops during the election campaign.

    • SPC 5.3

      Sometimes it seems there is a lack of intelligent oversight.

      While business demand for workers was placing pressure on government, the RB had tightened monetary policy placing pressure on household finances, diminishing future consumer demand.

      Even so government opened up the migrant worker tap to those claiming they had jobs to come to (and this was not always true) and this placed pressure on the housing and labour markets (higher rents and downward pressure on wages). Even now it is still continuing apace.

      And rather than agree to the Greens 3% rent increase cap and or requiring employers of (lowskilled) migrant workers to provide housing (thus incentivise hiring and training up locals) to better manage the market – Labour and now National seem incapable of any action.

    • Louis 5.4

      To add @5.2

      "19,900 homes completed in the six year Government Build Programme. Another 6,000 still under construction."

      https://twitter.com/ClintVSmith/status/1732131356367564877

    • Tricledrown 5.5

      For the first time in many many years the number of dwellings built met the numbers required to fix the housing crises. That needs to be sustained for 10 years to fix the housing crisis.1 or 2 yrs of this level is not going to make a difference. National never got close at any stage even during the Canterbury rebuild.

  6. gsays 6

    If Luxon is being contradictory I'm curious, was he right then or is he right now?

    • bwaghorn 6.1

      I would imagine his veiw on what's right will depend on who he's talking to!

      • Ghostwhowalks 6.1.1

        He talks out both sides of his mouth at once.

        There will be loosing up and new restrictions , both more and less at the same time.

        Just as he was opposed to and supported a cease fire in Gaza
        Ill get in first and say it . Luxon is the new Brezhnev… sticking to his rigid plans   and propping up a failing neo liberal  ideology

        Soon expect the 100 days program to be both achieved and extended

  7. barry 7

    Whether immigration is right or not depends on ideology. Some people are clearly motivated by racism. Others just want to drive down wages. In any case it must be balanced with an increase in infrastructure and housing.

    Migration cannot solve NZ's labour shortage, although it can help with specific skill shortages. We need to increase productivity, and reduce the number of bullshit jobs.

    If there are not enough people to service our current population then making the population bigger will make the problem worse.

    Luxon is not talking sense on this, nor does Labour.

    • Tricledrown 7.1

      Migrants are willing to do jobs kiwis won't do because the pay is poor and conditions even worse. Employers treat the entry level jobs as an excuse to bully and abuse worker's the wage theft is out of control even under Labour who failed to investigate widespread effectively slavery, our News media what's left of it exposing time after time bad widespread exploiting employers.

  8. Pat 8

    Unfortunately the politicians rhetoric re immigration will continue as it is our default growth mechanism for ALL parties.

    The rhetoric can be ignored as so much BS as even those parties that talk a big game never deliver.

    We had record (net) immigration in the last year (under Labour) and the previous record was also under Labour in 2019….and curiously with NZFirst as a coalition partner, go figure.

    The new coalition will probably reduce it marginally but dont expect it to decline to a level we can reasonably accomodate.

    https://figure.nz/chart/a3PV9tKfbfVBCRwv

  9. Mike the Lefty 9

    This flip-flop on immigration is pure NZ First.

    Makes it pretty obvious who is the real power in the coalition, doesn't it?

    Why should we be surprised?

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