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Two editorials on immigration

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 am, March 1st, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: housing, im/migration, jobs - Tags: , , ,

This anonymous effort in The Herald is a shocker:

The fear that dares not speak its name


If there is a single anxiety underlying the restive mood of many voters in western democracies at present it is undoubtedly immigration, for which those voters blame high house prices and a housing shortage, low incomes, unemployment, crime and sometimes terrorism.

In all likelihood their mood has less to do with all of these problems than with the fear that their nation’s ethnicity, character and culture are being undermined, but that is a view few dare to express in public because they will sound racially prejudiced.

They feel gagged by political correctness, which adds frustration and anger to their fear.

Yes, political correctness, the crushingly oppressive idea that we should all be decent and respectful of each other, what a nightmare that is.

But to suggest that we’re all racists (I spoke its name!) and just too oppressed to vent about it? Really? What a cartoon evil view of the world.

So the immigration debate proceeds on the safer territory of housing, incomes and jobs.

So the immigration debate proceeds on the real territory that impacts real people all around you.

Blah blah blah, and the piece finishes:

It is clear, though, the immigration and its proxy issues of housing and employment are going to be the heated topics of this year’s election campaign.

It will be hard for the Government to win a proxy war if the voters’ real fear of ethic diversity is left to fester unchallenged.

Ethic diversity. Cute. And once again, painting concern about jobs and housing as just a cover for racism (oops!) says more about you than it does about the country. Like when Bill English repeatedly writes off Kiwi workers as hopeless druggies.

Contrast with the signed piece from those terrible terrible racists at interest.co.nz:

Attempting to fix a shortage of housing while at the same time allowing record numbers of migrants in does not appear to be working

The Government’s kept trying to talk down the rising and rising immigrant numbers as if they are somehow nothing to do with it and, heck, we should all be grateful lots of people want to live here.

But ‘living’ is the nub of it.

Everybody needs houses to live in.

Auckland creaks

And as the chief recipient of the burgeoning numbers of immigrants Auckland is creaking very badly.

There are far few houses being built in Auckland even to accommodate the people there now, and yet this Government keeps pouring more in.

The Government has kept waiting for this situation to abate by itself. All the talk has been of immigration numbers passing their peak.

Well, that’s just simply not true. We don’t know where the peak might be.

What can be said is that the nearly 14,500 people who arrived on a permanent or long term basis last month was the most ever.

On a net basis Statistics New Zealand’s monthly figures put the seasonally-adjusted net gain at nearly 6500 in January – also a record.

Across the past four months the annualised net gain is now running at close to 75,000, which equates to nearly 1.6% of the current New Zealand population – that’s about three times the rate of growth they have in Britain and the British are screaming their heads off about the rate of immigration THEY have.

Auckland grows

For Auckland the net gain over the past 12 months is running at around 42,000, which would require around 14,000 new homes. There were fewer than 10,000 new homes consented for construction last year.

Sort it out

The Government simply can no longer talk about fixing the Auckland housing shortage with any credibility when, a) It’s not getting enough houses built to accommodate the existing population and b) it’s stuffing more and more people into the place.The Government has shown it can’t just jawbone more, or at least enough, new houses into Auckland, even to house those already there..

What it CAN do is bring the hammer down on all these work visas being issued. Till the infrastructure can start to recover.

It is beyond time Bill and his crew put their shovels down and stopped making this hole deeper.

These are real concerns and it is legitimate to talk about them.

29 comments on “Two editorials on immigration ”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    I agree with the general premise of your post.

    It just concerns me when people identify certain ethnicities as the reason why house prices are out of control in Auckland, as opposed to government policy.

    That way of highlighting the issue just breeds the racism that we detest.

    • weka 1.1

      Yep, so talk about the problems with the immigration policy (and other policies), rather than the problems with immigrants. However I think you will find a fair bit of push back from the people who think that immigration itself is Good.

      • lprent 1.1.1

        Yeah. I like immigration and immigrants. While theoretically we could possibly figure out skill needs 20 years ahead, in enough time to train people and give them experience… 😈 somehow that never happens.

        I work in areas where we cover our lack of foresight with immigration. Just as my parents did back in the 1960s and 1970s.

        That isn’t the question. The question is if we should have record immigration at the same time as we have record return migration of overseas kiwis AND a Nationally chronic underinvestment in housing and infrastructure.

        I think that the immigration needs to be throttled to reduce the flow until a realistic government actually gets some frigging housing in place. Of course National won’t want to give up their artificial growth from nett inwards migration. Good reason to vote them out.

        • Poission

          As around 1.5 of gdp growth is attributable to the CHCH earthquake (and will to 2020) there is little in AK growth from unfettered immigration alone.

          The CHCH example tells us that most of the shortfall in employment was a transfer from the unemployed and underemployed (by increased participation rates) and increased wage growth.

          Of those workers who came from within Canterbury, about a third of
          the increase in employment can be attributed to a rise in labour force
          participation. Canterbury’s labour force participation rate rose from
          about 70 percent before the earthquakes to peak about 73 percent,
          while the participation rate in the rest of New Zealand remained broadly
          unchanged (figure 12). A further quarter of the increase can be attributed
          to natural increase as those in Canterbury reached working age and
          joined the labour force.

          Workers who were previously unemployed also contributed to increased
          employment. The unemployment rate in Canterbury fell from 4.7 percent
          to about 3 percent by 2014 (figure 13). The gap in unemployment rates
          between Canterbury and the rest of New Zealand widened by more than
          historically witnessed.


          • lprent

            Hummmppph.. You need to get out more. You’re looking at growth from a fix it situation on top of a falling primary sector. You need to look at what is already running that has been sustaining the economy and slowly filling Auckland to overflowing.

            At a rough guess, these days, the numbers of paid jobs in Auckland are close to being half of all jobs in the country by wage value. So that is where migrants go for jobs. Much of thos ejobs are directly or indirectly related to exporting. But the same demand that keeps the Auckland full of jobs, is also slowly stifling the place because the housing and infrastructure isn’t being funded by the government who control the inwards migration policies.

            For instance, much of the immigration is coming from SMC’s (skilled migrant category). Much of that is coming from a rather large overseas education sector. Most of that is located in Auckland and is an existing industry in its own right.

            It is an industry that requires students use accommodation, public transport, and roads. None of which the government has been willing to pay the upfront cost for. Unfortunately, Auckland doesn’t control its migration.

            Now I have no idea how much the overseas education sector is worth these days, but it is in the billions of dollars. And it is a high revenue item for the central government, but not particularly for the Aucklanders who have to put up with the cramming we get from this method of migration.

            The other problem is that many of the people coming into immigration on the points system in this way aren’t particularly skilled. They tend to do a lot of low value commerce or language qualifications and the like. The higher trained are often worth having. We just need a better dross filter.

            Edit: and reading the herald this morning it appears that even the immigration has been noticing the problem.

            Advice prepared for Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse warned of a blowout in overall immigration numbers through a rapid increase in ex-students who were gaining automatic residency as skilled migrants.

            Officials predicted the rise – driven by the Government’s aim to increase revenue from international students to $5 billion a year – would breach the upper limits of both the Skilled Migrant Category and total residency approvals.

            “Give the forecast growth path of export education for tertiary students, over time, the increase in international students are likely to place pressure on the SMC target range,” said the April 2016 draft analysis paper by the Treasury and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

            “And as the target is reached there is a risk that less experienced SMC migrants, working in lower wage industries, may crowd out the higher-skilled, professional SMC migrants that New Zealand is competing in a global labour market to attract.”

        • Brendon

          Immigration and building consent numbers affect the estimated size of the housing shortage. It is a little hard to estimate the exact size of the shortage because it depends on assumptions about occupancy rates (Nick Smith is right about that) -which is affected by factors like young adults staying at home longer, delaying family making, household formation etc.

          But we know that in 2013 there was 42,000 people measured as homeless according to the Census of that year. Since then immigration has exploded while building rates have only gradually increased. Much more immigrants arrived in Auckland per new house being built than the existing city average of 3 people per house.

          So in 2017 the homelessness rate is almost certainly to be well over the 42,000 measured in 2013 and this massive homelessness situation has caught the government unawares with its emergency housing grants….. Acknowledging a housing shortage gives a moral imperative to act. This is what happened with the first Labour government back in the 1930s and 40s. Check out this video.

          • saveNZ

            Building consents are not houses! They should be measuring code of compliances on new dwellings not building consents. Ie finished housing not potential housing.

            Also many of the building consents in Auckland seem to be demolish an exiting dwelling to build a bigger house. It is not increasing the amount of houses at all, it is decreasing them in the short term as the house has to be rebuilt (1 – 2 years) and then the occupants have to find somewhere else to live while they rebuild!

            The new house then becomes less less affordable as it cost so much more than the old one, and often has less occupants in it, as often older people can afford more expensive houses compared to younger people.

        • greywarshark

          Thought of a new moniker for National, – The Irrational Party. As Bruce Jesson said in 1999 ‘only their purpose is mad.’ . Now though he’d include the whole caboodle – pompous purposeless, myopic and peanut-brained honed at uni o match his/her cohort.

        • barry

          OTOH NZ employers are useless at taking graduates and training them up with real skills. We have people graduating with STEM degrees and working in cafes for years while trying to get an employer to take them on.

          If we turned down the skill category immigration spigot a little, then employers would be a little less fussy about having specific skills on a CV and take people on and train them.

          We should have a conversation about what we want the NZ population to be and how fast do we want to get there. I don’t much care about the ethnic mix.

          I sort of liked the place better when the population was about 3 million.

          Norway has oil and access to Europe but otherwise we are comparable. Over 50 years we have gone from 66% of their population to 88%. It hasn’t improved our economy compared to theirs.

          • Craig H

            Excellent point about employers needing to be more willing to take on graduates.

          • lprent

            It isn’t just the employers who are reluctrant to take on grads. Most experienced people are as well. Graduates are hard work.

            I routinely handle a few newbies each year where ever I work. People who already have any experience are at least an order of magnitude easier to get off my back than grads are.

            I’d say that most employers are at least constrained by the willingness of their experienced employees to take on the irritating and distracting labour of hand rearing the lambs after graduation. 😈

            I know that my irritation levels sometimes rise to the level of telling bosses who are asking for too much hand holding to “Fuck off or I will”.

            • barry

              Yes graduates can be hard work, but it is part of our responsibility to hand our skills on.

              We don’t have apprenticeships in the IT industry as such, but we should have something like it. Good employers will allow a portion of your time to go to training (and being trained). Mentoring is part of network building and the ability to pass on skills is always asked for in any interview that I am involved in.

  2. Bill 2

    It’s class war. Nothing much to do with foreigners buying assets or foreigners immigrating here.

    If foreigners weren’t buying properties and sitting on them, then richer NZer’s would be buying those self same properties and sitting on them. And the end result for most of us would be the same.

    If we had decent employment law and good mechanisms to enforce legislation, then employers wouldn’t be able to use vulnerable immigrants to undermine wages and conditions. (Someone pointed out yesterday that manufacturing was relocated overseas in the first instance (driving down wages and conditions) and a second bite at the cherry is coming in the shape of exploiting foreign workers in the remaining service sector and the remaining primary production sector that can’t be relocated so easily.

    Build infrastructure? Absolutely. And can we do it with an eye on CC? Probably not. We’re to be thrown under that bus too.

    Any political parties making the argument around class? (Whistling wind and tumble weed)

  3. Poission 3

    second bite at the cherry is coming in the shape of exploiting foreign workers in the remaining service sector

    A good little earner apparently.


  4. Andre 4

    A proposal I find interesting (and have mentioned before) is that an employer wanting to bring in an immigrant on a work visa because they can’t find someone suitable already here should also be required to pay at the 75th percentile or better.

    • Yes. If Immigration gets a request to issue a work visa because the requester can’t find a local unskilled worker to do a minimum-wage job, it should have a form letter that says “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.” There are high-paid skills that are in short supply here, but unskilled is always in surplus.

      • saveNZ 4.1.1

        It seems pretty crazy when we can’t attract skilled Kiwis to stay in the country because the NZ wages are so low.

        And skilled people and graduates can’t get jobs.

        I defiantly believe that the wages should not only be at the 75% or above for the migrant worker category but also the wage has to be high enough not to need working for families, accommodation supplement or other social welfare for the migrant or temporary worker. Also each employer should only be allowed 10% or below migrant workers – not start pushing in 70% of their workforce to be migrants. Something is clearly wrong with the employer and industry if they can’t find anyone local. How about investing in training for example?

        Students and backpackers should be encouraged to do fruit picking and seasonal work and the unemployed. A lot of the issues of the fruit picking industry is that there is no accommodation provided for the workers. A friend of mine who was unemployed went to do fruit picking in Hawkes Bay, found there was no cheap accommodation and had to camp and was actually told that is was not safe for her to be accommodated nearby to the orchards, because of the risk of rape from the other workers! Unbelievable – then WINZ would not put her back on a benefit. So trying to get a fruit picking job is not easy! It’s made as hard as possible for the unemployed!

        Some of these companies hiring under the ‘skilled worker’ category seem to then go under or relocate after hiring migrant workers (and often getting major grants that deprive Kiwis of the very grants meant to grow that industry in this country) and then the new migrants are then unemployed. So the employer should have to also pay a huge bond per migrant that they need to repay to the government, and the migrant should automatically lose residency and leave the country if their job disappears and wait to be recruited again from overseas if that happens.

        Also it should take 10 years to become a citizen of NZ and there should be stronger criteria for it to protect our welfare state and environmental impacts. We already have an ageing population. Depriving our youth of jobs and opportunities is not going to help that – nor is the current system of getting low paid migrants and their aged parents into our country.

        Property should not be able to be bought by people who are not NZ citizens until the transport and infrastructure and housing issues are solved and working for locals.

        Parents of migrants should not be allowed to migrate here. They should just get visiting rights for their children – and have private health insurance before they come.

        Like wise arranged marriages and so forth. Only the original migrant should be eligible.

        If a company and individual such as offering fake jobs or offering lower working conditions and wages is caught, they should be jailed and deported.

        Education should go back to being about education. Not trying to fleece international students by promising them a 25% chance to become a NZ citizen if they study here.

        It should be the government’s job to protect it’s citizens. Unfortunately with globalism and all the chances for the politicians to make it big in the world in their careers, they seem to forget about protecting their own people and want the 20% to benefit from immigration while making 80% of people worse off.

        It’s not rocket science where all the routs are, under previous Labour government’s we had immigration was not such a problem because it was not as some free for all and a free NZ passport with every crap job or billionaire that donates to the National party.

        I think immigration is great in moderation or if it is necessary. Not as a way to social cleanse a city and create social dysfunction and poverty so a few people can turn a profit.

      • Craig H 4.1.2

        Not in Queenstown as shown by the MSD exemption list, but otherwise a fair point. The requirement to list unskilled vacancies with Work and Income first weeds most of those out anyway.

        • Psycho Milt

          And why is unskilled labour in short supply in Queenstown? Because the cost of living is really high there but employers don’t see any reason why market forces should be allowed to impact on their wage costs. If right-wingers really did believe their own bullshit, there’d be no labour shortage in Queenstown because employers would be paying a premium to get labourers to move there.

          • Craig H

            That would be nice if that happened, although I worry that the requisite increase in prices would make life even more difficult. If employers gave up and Queenstown collapsed into a ghost town, that would also be an unfortunate outcome.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Wage rises are not the cause of business failure. They do not necessarily lead to price increases. They do not cause unemployment.

              Those are facts. I know they contradict right wing thinks, and so what?

  5. sable 5

    The Australians had the right idea and it has worked. Limit those who are not citizens to buy new builds not existing property.

    By contrast the Natwits made it harder for locals to buy whilst making no harder for rich foreign investors.

    The question is can we expect better from the Labour/Green alliance?

    As to immigration its fine as long as useful people we really need are being allowed in not unskilled workers who compete with Kiwi’s already struggling to find work.

    • Duncan 5.1

      I’ve never really understood why people are so keen to promote the new build rule as the solution, unless there is a parallel rule that enforces the occupation of those houses, in conjunction with squatter rights to enforce those rules.
      Sure a new build adds to the economy and provides jobs,but many of the issues remain.
      Overseas speculators can leave the house vacant and flick it at any time (especially when forced to by international events outside our control).
      Infrastructure and builders are required both of which are under enough pressure already.
      To me the crux of the issue is the commodification of homes and the boom bust cycles that this brings.
      I think any promotion of the new build rule must come with caveats and in itself is a BS solution to appease the masses.

  6. Mike Steinberg 6

    Former Reserve Bank economist Michael Reddell’s blog is an excellent resource for anyone wondering whether NZ’s current immigration targets make sense from a policy perspective. There certainly seem to be a number of objective economic reasons to significantly reduce the current target of around 50,000 to 20,000 (in addition to the obvious one of easing pressure on house prices).


    • saveNZ 6.1

      From Mike Steinberg, link.

      “Again, if our education sector was attracting real top-notch people, and encouraging them to apply for residence, there might be a net gain for New Zealand (lifting the average quality of the people we decide to let stay). But as Treasury has noted, we aren’t doing that well at attracting really highly-skilled people. The recent Fry and Glass book reported that we are doing less well on that score than either Australia or Canada. And, as a reminder, these were the top five occupations for the skilled migrants last year.

      Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
      Retail Manager (General)
      Cafe or Restaurant Manager
      ICT Customer Support Officer
      Those five occupations alone made up 25 per cent of the skilled migration approvals. And skilled migrant approvals made up only around 60 per cent of the total residence approvals – others, presumably, were not even reaching that standard.”

      (He notes other countries are looking at attracting top notch students at universities like Stanford, Harvard etc, )

      I’d go further and say the fake students for visas scam the government is doing, is actually undermining our entire education and university quality in NZ in favour of competing for funding and grants for overseas students.

      The government is tarnishing our reputation of having a world class education system in NZ.

      Education should be about education, it is a social good. It is not a business or a business opportunity.

      People have forgotten that.

  7. William 7

    I’m sick of this pointing and laughing at leaders who are moved to tears or anger by the plights of others, ie., Galloway and P Bennett in Parliament yesterday.

    I’m sure Paula’s hands are completely steady when she signs off on the fates of the jobless just as I am sure the hands off the psychopathic killer are steady on his weapon when he moves in for the shot.

    The only time I saw the likes of Judith Collins genuinely upset was when she was caught out being evil – upset for herself.

    I don’t think this is a minor thing, I think it speaks to our values. The values of high school bullies.

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