The Greens on immigration: taking the low road

Earlier this week various media outlets were carrying reports of a new speech on immigration from Green Party co-leader James Shaw.  In both Stuff and the Herald articles were headed “Green Party apologises for anti-immigration pandering.   To be fair to Shaw, that wasn’t quite what he said.

A year or so ago, the Greens came out with a new policy on immigration.    The aim was to produce annual population growth of around 1 per cent, and they would adjust immigration policy settings (in light of changes in rates of natural increase or of the comings and goings of New Zealanders) to meet such a target.   At the time they talked a lot about the pressure points that really big net migration inflows caused.   Shaw told Radio New Zealand

“We know that immigration is becoming more of a concern for people and in my experience the vast majority of people aren’t concerned about immigrants, they’re concerned about the impact on house prices, and infrastructure.”

They seemed mostly to be about stabilising population growth pressures, rather than reducing average net immigration very much at all.   After all, average annual population growth in New Zealand in the 20 years prior to the current immigration surge was 1.1 per cent, and rates of natural increase are slowing.

But whatever their intentions, I think everyone who thought about the issue at all seriously, concluded that their policy was unworkable, mostly because of the big –  and not readily forecastable –  fluctuations in the comings and goings of New Zealanders.  I wrote about it at the time

In a sense the fatal conceit in the Greens new policy is the idea that New Zealand’s population growth rate can be held stable from year to year.  While New Zealanders are fairly free to move –  or not –  to the much larger Australian economy in response to changes in relative economic opportunities –  and while New Zealand incomes are so much lower than those in Australia –  we will almost inevitably have the sorts of swings in the net outflow of citizens I showed in the first chart above.  Trying to manage the inflow of non-New Zealanders year by year to offset those fluctuations would be (a) impossible, and (b) something of a fool’s errand even to try.

Others pro-immigration people have made the some point about the unworkability of the scheme.

So in that respect it is good that the specific formulation of a target has been dropped.  If they were serious about a population policy –  and I think they are the only party to have one –  they could have rephrased it to aim to produce average population growth of around 1 per cent per annum on, saying, a five year forward looking basis.    That would have been less unworkable.  But, instead, the numerical target has gone altogether.

From the tone and content of Shaw’s latest speech there must have been a huge backlash in some quarters against the party leadership, and probably Shaw in particular, over last year’s proposed policy.

Last year I made an attempt to try and shift the terms of the debate away from the rhetoric and more towards a more evidence-based approach.
We commissioned some research which indicated that immigration settings would be best if tied to population growth.
Unfortunately, by talking about data and numbers, rather than about values, I made things worse.
Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.
We were mortified by that

I guess I’m not a Green supporter, but much of this just looks unrecognisable.  Go back and look at the mainstream media coverage, and no one then seemed to think he was “pandering”.   It looked at the time like a serious attempt (apparently backed by some commissioned research) to grapple with some pressing issues –  especially around housing and transport –  and if the solution he came up with wasn’t very workable (and probably should have had a lot more internal stress-testing before it was released for public consumption), it was a serious attempt.  It didn’t blame migrants for New Zealand policy failures, it simply recognised that very rapid population growth can create stresses for us all.   As Shaw noted then

Mr Shaw said the aim of the policy was for better planning, and less hostility towards immigrants.
“The debate around immigration is kind of being captured by those voices who are just simply anti-immigrant, and we really want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

It all seemed pretty calm and rational (even if unworkable).   In fact, at the time so calm and rational that Shaw could even use the (relatively) moderate “anti-immigrant” to describe those who wanted to pull back more significantly on immigration.

There is none of that calm moderation in this week’s speech.    In a speech of only 1350 words, “xenophobia” appears four times, and “scapegoating” three times (admittedly “racism” gets in only once).    People who disagree with the Greens’ stance are, apparently, characterised by such evils.  And on the other hand, the Greens are the party of love

I’m proud to lead a party that stands for the politics of love and inclusion, not hate and fear

and

Openness, inclusiveness and tolerance must win out over racism and scapegoating and xenophobia.   Love and inclusion must win out over hate and fear.

If that isn’t pandering, I’m not sure what is.  And all the while attempting to secure the high moral ground.   Thus

We in the Greens are deeply concerned that the debate about immigration policy in New Zealand has, over the course of time, come to be dominated by populist politicians preaching a xenophobic message in order to gain political advantage.

This ugly strain of political discourse is quieter at times of low net migration into New Zealand, but rises at times of when net migration is high – as it is now, and so, at this election, sadly, the xenophobic drum is beating louder.

“Xenophobia” is one of the favoured words of the groups –  whether from the right or the left –  in our society who favour a continuation of our unusually large-scale immigration policies.

My Oxford dictionary defines xenophobia as a “morbid dread or dislike of foreigners”.   I’d challenge Mr Shaw, or others in the media and lobby groups who like to the fling around the word –  or cognates like “fear” (widely used in this year’s New Zealand Initiative report) – as if the only basis for questioning New Zealand’s immigration policy can be something irrational, to produce some evidence for their claims.    I presume Shaw isn’t wanting to apply this description (“xenophobia”) to his Labour Party allies who recently came out with some proposals designed to reduce the net inflow of migrants (at least temporarily), using much the same sort of arguments Shaw himself was articulating, calmly and reasonably, only last year.  No doubt he intend his comments to apply to Winston Peters –  also the avowed target of the New Zealand Initiative’s report.   I’m no fan of Peters, but I’ve read various of his speeches over the years, and listened to him in interviews, and the “morbid dread of foreigners” seems to bear no relationship at all to what Peters is saying.    Do the Greens recognise any legitimate reasons for being sceptical about the merits of the large scale non-citizen immigration programmes New Zealand runs?

“Scapegoating” is one of Shaw’s other favourite words.   Here, there was a section in Shaw’s speech that I totally agreed with

Migrants are not to blame for the social and economic ills of this country.
Migrants are not to blame for the housing crisis.
Migrants are not to blame for our children who go to school hungry.
Migrants are not to blame for the long hospital waitlists.
Migrants are not to blame for our degraded rivers.
It is the government’s failure

But again, is anyone engaged in the public debate saying anything different?   I was flattered to be described recently by the New Zealand Initiative as “New Zealand’s most articulate critic of immigration”.  I’ve said repeatedly that migrants are just doing what all of us probably seek to do –  pursuing the best opportunities for ourselves and our children.  The problem isn’t the individuals, it is the policy choices governments make.  Again, is anyone who is critical of current immigration policy saying anything different?

Shaw seems to have abandoned what he described as

an attempt to try and shift the terms of the debate away from the rhetoric and more towards a more evidence-based approach.

and tried to cover his own poor specific policy proposal last year, by adopting instead the politics of the slur.   And all while pretending to claim the high moral ground.   Perhaps naively, I’d always thought the Greens –  much as I disagree with them on most things –  were better than that.

As it is, we are now left unclear what the Green Party’s immigration policy really amounts to.  To their credit, there is a 10 page densely-typed immigration policy document on their website, but neither it nor the two page summary give us much clarity at all.

They begin

We support an appropriate and sustainable flow of migrants

Which differentiates them from who how?   “Appropriate” is one of those words bureaucrats use when they don’t want to be specific.

And among their three ‘key principles’

Maintain a sustainable net immigration flow to limit effects on our environment, society and culture.

Surely any possible worries about the impact on “society” or “culture” could only stem from “xenophobia”?  Or is that only when other people make such arguments?

There are strange observations such as

Only make decisions to use immigration as an instrument of economic policy openly by an Act of Parliament

I don’t really disagree, but…..immigration policy operates under the Immigration Act, passed and amended by Parliament.  And among the purposes listed in that Act is

contributing to the New Zealand workforce through facilitating access to skills and labour

The Immigration Act, at least in its modern guises, has always been substantially an instrument of economic policy.

There is lots of detail on various aspects of the policy, but no sense at all as to how many permanent non-citizen migrants we should be seeking to take each year.  We know they are keen to take more refugees, but it isn’t even clear whether that increased intake would be in addition to the total number of non-citizens we take in each year at present, or whether additional refugees would replace some others.

On voluntary migrants they say

an open immigration policy would be unmanageable, and it is the Government’s duty to ensure that voluntary immigration is managed in the national interest. Although ‘national interest’ can mean different things to different people, the definition that has informed our national immigration policy for many years is that we should accept people who will bring skills, capital, or other desirable attributes with them.

And they have a view on the types of skills which should be favoured

Give priority in the skilled migrant category to skills needed for a sustainable society and economy, such as scientists, engineers and other trades with specialised skills applicable to fields including — but not limited to — organic farming, biodegradable materials, recycling, and renewable energy and fuels.

But there is nothing, at all, as to whether current target levels (around 45000 per annum residence approvals) is too high, too low, or about right.

Not even their general stance towards the environment gives much clue.   In discussing “yearly immigration quotas” they say we need

an assessment of the ability of our environment to cope with population increases, taking into account changes in energy use and other behavioural and infrastructural factors;

but they also talk in the same breath of

the need to have spare environmental, social and cultural ecological capacity to accommodate potential returning New Zealanders and people displaced by climate change

But what does it all mean?   You could mount a good argument, on environmental grounds, for a much lower annual target for new residents.   And the likely economic costs of meeting our climate change emissions commitments –  made more difficult by rapid increases in population – would just reinforce that, especially as the Greens are explicit that immigration policy needs to be managed for the interests of New Zealand, not the world.   But that doesn’t seem to be the Greens approach at all.

And then of course, there are the cultural dimensions.  Here is what they have to say

The Taonga of our people, and sites of historical, cultural, environmental, recreational, and general emotional significance for resident New Zealanders, should be protected from adverse impact as a result of immigration, and should not be seen as up for sale to wealthy newcomers. The Green Party will:

1. Take all reasonable steps to prevent immigration numbers, and the sale of land to rich immigrants, from having an adverse impact on Taonga.

But, again, what does it mean?   And why isn’t it what the Greens themselves would refer to as “xenophobia” if anyone else was raising the issues?

Perhaps one can only conclude that answering fairly basic questions like how many non-citizens we should take in each year, or even just what rationing devices we should use to decide which migrants to take, is altogether too hard.  That isn’t promising for a party that wants to be in government only a few months hence.

Reading Shaw’s speech the other day, I did notice this line

in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament.

I did carefully note the potential distinction between “migrant-friendly” and “migration-friendly”, but when I first read the line I was struck by how similar it was to lines one sometimes sees from ACT.   David Seymour obviously thought so too, as he was soon out with a release casting doubt on the Greens’ claims in this area, and suggesting that ACT really was the most pro-immigration party.    Perhaps the Greens just want to be known as nice, while Seymour explicitly eschews niceness

We stand up for productive immigrants and the businesses that employ them, not because it feels nice, but because New Zealand needs immigrants

In fact, I suspect both parties have quite strong globalist leanings –  more so than a concern for the interests of existing New Zealanders –  but neither can quite bring themselves to consistently adopt such an approach.  Curiously, both also seem keen on values statement and the indoctrination of immigrants –  even if they probably couldn’t agree much about what ideas they’d indoctrinate the immigrants with.

If it weren’t for such leanings, it is hard to imagine the Greens –  vocal champions of clean rivers etc –  wouldn’t be much more strongly advancing an agenda that avoided government policy exacerbating population pressures on the environment.    Whether on economic grounds, or environmental grounds, the immigration programme we’ve run for at least the last 25 years (through all sorts of year to year swings in the overall net inflow or outflow) simply doesn’t look to have been working in the interests of New Zealanders as a whole.  If the Greens disagree, it would be good to see the argumentation and evidence.

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “The Greens on immigration: taking the low road

  1. I am more concerned about the Green Party’s 5000 refugee quota. We struggle to find suitable accomodation for 700 refugees intake each year as it is. I am pretty sure those 5000 refugees will be housed in cold damp and leaking state housing. NZ is not exactly a warm dry climate. You need brand new state of the art heat pumps, double glazing and insulation to keep warm and dry.

    When we dump these 5000 refugees in a worse position than they are currently in, don’t expect them to thank NZ for our kindness. Bringing in future trouble as these refugee kids grown up in poverty stricken conditions.

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    • With the appointment of human rights lawyer Golriz Ghahraman, a Oxford law graduate and a NZ refugee herself and formerly a lawyer with the UN, elevated into the top 15 in the Green party’s list, it is a clear that refugees and migrant rights is going to top the Green Party agenda. Golriz has longstanding involvement in refugee and migrant rights activism.

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  2. I have some sympathy for your concern, altho even old NZ state houses probably beat out Turkish or Jordanian refugee camps. Personally, I’d prefer to spend the money on supporting refugees in the region, focused on eventual return home. The same money would help many more people there than here.

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    • That’s what the Europeans thought that anything in Europe was better than anywhere in Turkey and Jordanian until they had to deal with mass protests and fire bombing in their own cities. Now the Europeans are paying Turkey something like 3 billion euros a year to take refugees.

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  3. I think Michael you hit the nail on the head with your “politics of slur” comment. National and its right-wing supporters believe it will be politically advantageous to target left wing parties on being xenophobia and anti-globalist. They are going to keep pushing those buttons -especially Labour’s mis-step over using chinese sounding names. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday on the 5th of July -that was National party government ministers go-to excuse.

    The Greens back-track on immigration has shown how they respond to this pressure. Unfortunately for them it does not help their reputation for flakiness.

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    • Labour Party has certainly run a campaign of mis-steps ever since David Cunliffe with his I will capital gains tax your investment property, your business, your share portfolio, your holiday home. Vote Labour vote for CGT.

      Then followed by David Shearer who uummm and aaahhh and stammered his way towards a Vote Labour and yes we will CGT you because Labour believes in a fair society where people who have, must distribute their hard earned ill gotten gains with those who don’t have.

      And unbelievably Grant Robertson continues in this same Vote Labour and we will ensure we distribute your hard earned investments to the poor.

      Andrew Little had a short period of sanity when he stated that CGT was a dumb policy before he also decided to join the ranks of Labour stupidity. His latest being Vote Labour, no CGT in term 1 but perhaps in Term 2, Vote Labour and we will have no tax changes but yes were will extend the Bright Line test to 5 years and that is not a tax change. Also Labour will remove negative gearing and that is also not a tax change.

      Of course add Phil Twyford Chinese sounding names to the mix and we have the comedians of the 5 Stooges.

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  4. The other hot topic issue for the upcoming election is housing pressures in Auckland -which of course is closely related related to immigration/population growth of the city.

    National likes to portray that under their watch Auckland has had a big housing construction boom. I am less convinced that Auckland has increased its building rate that much. I think the response has been inelastic i.e. % increase in price has been greater than the % increase in quantity.

    Unfortunately journalists and statisticians have not produced easily digestable graphs for the common labour market -Australiansian city comparisons for, so the public can make that judgement.

    There should be time series graphs showing- for each city -showing.
    1. New house build rate per 1000 city residents.
    2. Build numbers divided by new resident numbers -showing what the ‘marginal’ house occupancy rate is, compared to the average occupancy rate of the city. (I think Michael you have some graphs of this inverse of this -but they are hard to digest). It is from this graph/working that estimations of shortages/surpluses of houses is calculated. Newsroom Pro -tells me today the Auckland Council Chief Economist -David Norman -estimates the housing shortage has risen to 50,0000 using this method. For this figure to be meaningful the public need to know how it is calculated.

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      • Thanks Michael. Any chance for an updated article? Perhaps with the graphs inversed so that marginal new build/new resident occupancy rate can be compared with the NZ’s and/or Auckland’s average occupancy rate.

        Here is Interest.co.nz article on Nick Smith’s claim of NZ experiencing its longest and strongest building boom ever -busted on the Auckland house building front. The article also discusses the statistics of consents versus completed builds.

        http://www.interest.co.nz/property/88681/new-figures-statistics-nz-suggest-only-about-90-new-homes-consented-auckland-actually

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      • Here is Labour’s comment on house build numbers versus population growth over the 9 years of this government compared to the 9 years of the previous Labour government.

        Stats confirm growing housing shortfall
        Posted by Phil Twyford on July 06, 2017

        National’s failure to fix the housing shortage has been starkly illustrated by new statistics, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

        Statistics New Zealand has released a new statistical series today, showing the number of houses actually built, rather than just building consent data.

        “Auckland’s population growth under National has been similar to growth under the previous Labour Government – 220,000 people. The difference is that under National just 44,000 houses have been built, compared to 78,000 under Labour.

        “When compared to population data this release confirms a housing shortfall of over 30,000 homes has built up under this Government.

        “In the last year only 8,600 houses were built in Auckland, barely half of what was needed to keep up with population growth. No wonder Auckland Council projects the city’s housing shortage will rise to 50,000 houses in a few years.

        “That’s the story of the housing crisis: National has simply failed to get enough houses built. National’s housing shortage caused house prices to rocket and turned our homes into gambling chips for overseas speculators.

        “The lack of housing has caused rents to balloon, increased overcrowding, and forced more and more families to live in cars and garages.

        “After nine years, it’s time to fix National’s mistakes. Labour’s fresh plan for housing will build affordable houses and sell them to first home buyers at cost, while banning overseas speculators, and shutting down the tax loophole that speculators exploit,” says Phil Twyford.

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    • The Unitary Plan does allow for the doubling of Auckland Housing stock via the 2 dwelling concept which allows for a separate dwelling attached to the main dwelling at the cost of firewalls, a separate kitchen and separate toilet and bathroom facility.

      Also the independent hearings committee appointed by the government did run roughshod over Councillors and Nimby groupies with higher density.

      I have certainly seen my own portfolio of properties reasoned unexpectedly but happily allowing for multiple subdivisions and multi unit sites. One property in Otahuhu now allowing for a maximum of 9 units from 697 sqm.lamd size. They have even dropped car parking requirements from the zone. But my problem is how to fund the development and how to manage the risk.

      Asked a builder if he could provide reasonable assurances of time to complete and he answered “No”.

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      • The Unitary Plan was a step in the right direction. But Auckland and NZ will need more steps to fix its housing market.

        When property owners like yourself see the economic benefits of building on their property rather than acquiring more property to hold and wait for price rises/capital gains then that will be an indication that NZ is making successful planning and housing reforms.

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  5. Here is the relevant discussion in Question Time about Auckland’s house prices and construction rate.

    Phil Twyford: Why do he and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Building and Construction always blame Auckland Council for the restrictive planning system that makes urban land so expensive when at any time in the last 9 years the Government could have published a national policy statement under the Resource Management Act to prohibit the use of an urban growth boundary?
    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Let me explain to the member what happened. In 2003-04 there was a law change that allowed the regional councils—
    Phil Twyford: In the last 9 years.
    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Let me take you through it—let me take you through it. The regional councils’ metropolitan urban limit was put in place as being superior to the local councils plan. That caused a massive decline in housing construction in Auckland, to the point where in 2009, there were only just over 2,000 houses a year being built in our biggest city. Since that time, the construction sector has grown dramatically, and now we have nearly 11,000 houses being built in our largest city. But we have had to recover from the terrible situation that was left from that change in 2004.
    Phil Twyford: Surely he does not believe the spin of his Minister for Building and Construction that the special housing areas and the Auckland Unitary Plan are the same thing as abolishing the urban growth boundary, given that the unitary plan still has an urban growth boundary and Auckland continues to have some of the most expensive urban land in the world?
    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member is missing the point. The problem was that the previous Government put in place—
    Phil Twyford: You’ve had 9 years.
    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —this requirement. I am trying to explain it to you, Phil. From 2004 down to 2009 there was a massive decline in construction, and from 2011 to 2017 there has been a massive increase in construction. Spot the difference between those two things. The Labour Government stalled the housing market in Auckland; the National Government is growing the housing market in Auckland.

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  6. I find National’s approach to housing incomprehensible. They say housing is important to them. There are videos and speech notes of John Key as far back as 2007 -saying housing affordability was a crisis. All the time National wrt housing talk about supply, supply, supply…. Not mentioning that markets are made up of supply and demand. That there are other factors -the cyclical nature of NZ’s high rate of immigration, cyclical flows of foreign investment -especially from a fast globalising China, taxes laws on housing speculation vs other investments, monetary policy cycles -under Clark/Cullen -it was tightening, under Key/English interest rates have been low/stable and Macroprudential tools have been the preference under Key/English and did not exist for Clark/Cullen -but that has come with a lot of political interference. John Key begged last July for higher investor loan to value restrictions -which Wheeler gave him. Investor housing loans have dropped by a billion dollars this year compared to last. Yet Joyce refuses to give the Reserve Bank a debt to income tool if this is needed to calm the housing market in the future.

    Back to supply -I see nothing the government has done that has radically improved Auckland’s housing supply elasticity. As Phil Twyford above remarks demonstrate National has not reformed the planning rules around the inelastic supply of land for housing.

    Behind all this is infrastructure provision because elastic/competitive land supply for housing is only credible if there is means of supplying infrastructure to it. The government has not explained in its supply, supply, supply mantra how it is going to provide infrastructure for Auckland to build a Tauranga every three years given its current immigration/population growth settings.

    P.S I apologise for my grammar and pressured writing style today -only got home at 8.30am from double shift -I work in one of those mental health areas with huge staff shortages….. currently I am not feeling the love for our government…..

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    • Brendon, It is easy to talk the talk and easy to condemn but I have not seen anything in your huge amount of writings any solution to this housing problem.

      Michaels rhetoric on lowering the migrant target is just not a solution because a target is just that, a target. It does not change the transient nature of NZ population. International students, foreign workers, holiday workers number in the tens of thousands with a high churn rate.

      Cutting this transient work force as Labour suggests is just going to drop GDP and bring the economy to its knees. The NZ economy has diversified hugely into tourism and international students now a $15 to $20 billion export industry with almost a 100% transfer spendup into domestic GDP. That is a 3 fold increase in domestic GDP from what milk and agricultural exports can achieve.

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      • You might call it “rhetoric”, but actually my proposals are pretty specific and workable. They focus primarily on the residence approvals target, not students, temp work visas, or working holiday people (altho there is room for change in each of those areas too), and we have a demonstrated capacity to achieve whatever residence approvals target the govt chooses.

        My proposals would also bring NZ’s approach to immigration more into line with the international mainstream. At present, ours is a pretty radical experiment (an approach shared with Aus and Canada) with little sign it is systematically benefitng NZers. Most advanced economies survive, and prosper (or in some cases not) with much lower levels of immigration than we have.

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      • GetGreatStuff fixing the housing market is not that technically difficult -most places around the world are doing better than NZ. What we needed is elasticity of supply -which means when demand increases the supply response is to increase quantity supplied (what we want in NZ) more than increasing the price (what we are unfortunately getting in NZ).

        This will require planning reform -places like Houston and Tokyo demonstrate how this can be done -NZ needs to create its version. London with its decades of highly restrictive Nimby planning rules with the likes of greenbelts etc demonstrates what not to do.

        This will require some knowledge of how urban property markets are created -The Making Room paradigm and knowledge of how urban areas allocate space -both the use of private and public spaces -road pricing, car parking pricing, creating a multi-modal level playing field between transport options, removing regulatory costs so that intensification (building the city up) and extensification (building the city out) drop down towards the raw construction costs. It will require builders/construction providers to be large enough that they benefit from economies of scale, foster innovation and investment in a skilled workforce but not too large that the industry is dominated by monopolistic/cartel providers.

        There will need to be revenue sharing or reforms so that publicly provided infrastructure can be credibly provided in a timely manner to maintain a competitive land supply for urban development (both up and out).

        Most important it will require a government with the political will to fix the housing market. NZ with its massive excess of land having one of the world’s least affordable housing is ridiculously stupid.

        I think it is prudent while we sort out our supply factors that we take a breather by NZ Inc reducing its demand for housing -so I would go along with what Michael says on reducing immigration. This would have a side benefit of allowing NZ to experience a different immigration setting and investigate Michael’s economic argument for a lower immigration rate.

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      • I’d largely echo Brendon on fixing the housing market. It isn’t technically difficult. The big issue is politics, both political will, and the confidence of political leaders in their ability to make and sell the case.

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      • At this time it is technically and politically difficult. Most of central Auckland is subject to a viewshaft height limit due to Maori heritage political correctness which means that most of central Auckland will allow at most 3 level buildings. My Otahuhu site allows 6 levels but with a requirement for Outlook and living space, I can only manage to squeeze 2 levels plus mezzanine which is equivalent to 9 tiny units . It took 4 years for public consultation to approve the Unitary plan. Any future changes would be another 10 to 15 years.

        Houston sits on 29,000 skm stretched from Woodlands to Texas City with travel distance of 118km mainly a semi circular city with 6.2 million people. They have the width to expand we do not. Technically we have to deal with hills, valleys, streams, rivers and Auckland already stretches from Leigh to Pukekohe which is 129km.

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  7. The Greens abandoned a totally unworkable policy on the grounds of their own members did not know they were anti-immigration. furthermore, the propensity of the political correct to use political correctness to shut down legitimate debates backfired upon them. As is common with this political correctness, it ends up eating their own young.

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  8. He missed bigot
    As bigot means someone who is intolerant of those holding different opinions, i guess he could hardly use it as a slur given the obvious bigotry in his speech. So at least he gets marks for a sort of constancy

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  9. You say Mr Shaw said “”… the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.””

    So being dumb I looked up the and Oxford Dictionary definition, “”Rhetoric: speech or writing intended to be effective and influence people.”” So is an ‘elevated debate’ one where you ignore alternative ideas?

    As an immigrant with a ‘visible immigrant’ family and a son who has had to endure unpleasant racist words it really irritates that those strongly in favour of our existing system will not defend their position other than to claim xenophobia.

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    • NZ population is only growing at a rate of 2% per annum. It is barely replacement. The reasons are clear. An aging population needs a pool of young people to care for them in terms of renewal of a dwindling tax pool. They also need old age care with someone cleaning up the mess.

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