The new government’s immigration policy

It was confirmed yesterday that the new government’s immigration policy will be the policy the Labour Party campaigned on (albeit very quietly).  And so we learned that the new government will remain a fully signed-up adherent of the same flawed, increasingly misguided, “big New Zealand” approach that has guided immigration policy for at least the last 25 years.

If that is disappointing, it shouldn’t really be any surprise.     The Green Party approach to immigration is pretty open –  the “globalist” strand in their thought apparently outweighing either concern for New Zealand’s natural environment or any sort of hard-headed analysis of the economic costs and benefits to New Zealanders.  Only a few months ago, they were at one with the New Zealand Initiative, tarring as “xenophobic” any serious debate around the appropriate rate of immigration to New Zealand.  Never mind that population growth is driving up carbon and methane emissions, in a country where marginal abatement costs are larger than in other advanced economies, and yet where the same party is determined that New Zealand should reach net zero emissions only 33 years hence.

As for New Zealand First, they talk a good talk.  But that’s it.   As I noted a few months ago, reading the New Zealand First immigration policy (itself very light on specifics)

If one took this page of policy seriously, one could vote for NZ First safe in the expectation that nothing very much would change at all about the broad direction, or scale, of our immigration policy.     Of course, there would be precedent for that.  The last times New Zealand First was part of a government, nothing happened about immigration either.

Even so, I was just slightly surprised that there wasn’t even a token departure from the Labour Party’s immigration policy that New Zealand First could claim credit for.   The New Zealand Initiative’s report on immigration policy earlier in the year was largely (and explicitly) motivated by concerns about what New Zealand First might mean for immigration policy.

Six months ago, when we started scoping the Initiative’s immigration report, we had a very specific audience in mind: Winston Peters. Our aim was to assemble all the available research and have a fact-based conversation with New Zealand’s most prominent immigration sceptic.

Turns out that, perhaps not surprisingly based on the past track record, that they needn’t have bothered.

And so Labour’s election policy will be the immigration policy of the new government.    The policy documents themselves are here and here.   I wrote about the policy here at the time it was released in June, before the Ardern ascendancy.   It was notable how little attention Labour gave to immigration policy during the campaign –  perhaps it didn’t fit easily with the “relentlessly positive” theme –  and I understand there was a conscious decision by the new leadership to downplay the subject.    It will be interesting to see now whether they follow through on their manifesto, but very little about immigration policy requires legislative change so, in principle, the changes should be able to be done quite quickly.  In fact, as the biggest proposed changes affect international students one would assume they will be wanting to have those measures in places in time for the new academic year.

What also remains quite remarkable is the extent to which Labour’s policy has been taken as a substantial change.  Serious overseas media and intelligent commentators have presented Labour’s proposals as some sort of major sustained change in New Zealand approach to immigration, and thus to expected immigrant numbers.    To read some of the Australian and American commentary you might have supposed, say, that in future New Zealand’s immigration approvals might be cut towards, say, the sorts of levels (per capita) that prevailed in the United States under Bush and Obama.

Labour’s policy is, of course, nothing of the sort.  Under the proposed policy, New Zealand will remain –  by international standards –  extraordinarily open to non-citizen migrants, with expected inflows three times (per capita) those of the United States, and exceeded only (among OECD countries) by Israel in a good year (for them).

What determines how many people from abroad get to settle permanently in New Zealand is the residence approvals programme.   Under that programme, at present the aim is to grant around 45000 approvals to non-citizens each year (Australians aren’t subject to visa requirements, but in most years the net inflow of Australians is very small).  The outgoing government reduced that target (from 47500) last year.   Labour’s immigration policy document does not, even once, mention the residence approvals programme.  That was, no doubt, a conscious choice.  They are quite happy with the baseline rate of non-citizen immigration we’ve had for the last 20 years; quite happy to have the highest planned rate of non-citizen immigration anywhere in the OECD.  Medium-term forecasts of the net non-citizen immigration inflow will not change, one iota, if Labour proceeds with their policy.  For some of course, that will be a desirable feature.  For others it is a serious flaw, that results from failing to come to grips with the damage large scale immigration is doing to the economic fortunes of New Zealanders.

Of course, there are planned policy changes.    There are various small things:

  • an increased refugee quota,
  • steps to increase the utilisation of the existing Pacific quotas,
  • more onerous requirements for investor visas (including requiring investment in new “government-issued infrastructure bonds”),
  • a new Exceptional Skills visa,
  • a KiwiBuild visa

Taken together, these won’t affect total numbers to any material extent.

There is also a (welcome) change under which they will

Remove the Skilled Migrant Category bonus points currently gained by studying or working in New Zealand and standardise the age points to 30 for everyone under 45.

All else equal, these changes won’t affect the number of people getting residence, or materially affect the average quality (skill level) of those getting residence.   That is a shame: at present, too many migrants aren’t that skilled at all, and maintaining such a large approvals target (in such a remote, not very prosperous, country) makes it hard to lift the average quality.

The bigger changes are under two headings.    The first is around temporary work visas.   Here is what they say they will do.

Labour will:

• Actively manage the essential skills in demand lists with a view to reducing the number of occupations included on those lists

• Develop regional skill shortage lists in consultation with regional councils and issue visas that require the visa holder to live and work within a region that is relevant to their identified skill

• For jobs outside of skills shortages lists, Labour will ensure visas are only issued when a genuine effort has been made to find Kiwi workers

• Strengthen the labour market test for Essential Skills Work Visas to require employers to have offered rates of pay and working conditions that are at least the market rate

• Require industries with occupations on the Essential Skills in Demand lists to have a plan for training people to have the skills they require developed together with Industry Training Organisations

• Review the accredited employers system to make sure it is operating properly.

The broad direction seems sensible enough –  after all, the rhetoric has been about lifting the average skill level of the people we take.   But as I noted in my comments in June, the policy is notable for its touching faith in the ability of bureaucrats to get things right, juggling and managing skills lists, and now extending that to a regional differentiation.   There is no suggestion, for example, of letting markets work, whether by (as I’ve proposed) imposing a flat (quite high) fee for work visas and then letting the market work out which jobs need temporary immigrant labour, or by requiring evidence that market wages for the skill concerned have already risen quite a lot.  The latter would have seemed an obvious consideration for a party with trade union affiliates.

On Labour’s own estimates, these changes won’t have a large effect on the number of people here on work visas at any one time, although in the year or so after any changes are implemented, the net inflows that year will be lower than they otherwise would have been.

Much the same goes for the biggest area of change Labour is proposing, around international students.

Labour will:

• Continue to issue student visas and associated work rights to international students studying at Level 7 or higher – usually university levels and higher

• Stop issuing student visas for courses below a bachelor’s degree which are not independently assessed by the TEC and NZQA to be of high quality

• Limit the ability to work while studying to international students studying at Bachelor-level or higher. For those below that level, their course will have to have the ability to work approved as part of the course

• Limit the “Post Study Work Visa – Open” after graduating from a course of study in New Zealand to those who have studied at Bachelor-level or higher.

In general, I think these are changes in the right direction.  Here were some of the comments I made earlier

I’m a little uneasy about the line drawn between bachelor’s degree and other lines of study.  It seems to prioritise more academic courses of study over more vocational ones, and while the former will often require a higher level of skill, the potential for the system to be gamed, and for smart tertiary operators to further degrade some of the quality of their (very numerous) bachelor’s degree offerings can’t be ignored.  …… I’d probably have been happier if the right to work while studying had been withdrawn, or more tightly limited, for all courses.   And if open post-study work visas had been restricted to those completing post-graduate qualifications.

The proposals are some mix of protecting foreign students themselves, protecting the reputation of the better bits of our export education industry, and changes in the temporary work visas rules themselves.     In Labour’s telling –  and it seems a plausible story –  the changes are not designed to produce a particular numerical outcome, but to realign the rules in ways that better balance various interests.  The numbers will adjust of course, but that isn’t the primary goal.

Labour estimates that these changes will lower the number of visas granted annually by around 20000.   That is presented, in their documents, as a reduction in annual net migration of around that amount.   But that is true only in a transition, immediately after the changes are introduced.  The stock of people here on such student and related visas will fall, but after the initial transitional period there will be little or no expected change in the net inflow over time (which is as one would expect, since the residence approvals target is the key consideration there).

To see this consider a scenario in which 100000 new short-term visas are issued each year, and all those people stay for a year and a day (just long enough to get into the PLT numbers).  In a typical year, there will then be 100000 new arrivals and 100000 departures.

Now change the rules so that in future only 75000 short-term visas are issued each year.  In the first year, there will be 75000 arrivals and (still) 100000 departures (people whose visas were issued under the old rules and who were already here).  But in the next year, there will be 75000 arrivals and 75000 departures.    Measured net PLT migration will have been 25000 lower than otherwise in the first year, but is not different than otherwise in the years beyond that.

That doesn’t mean the policy changes have no effect.  They will lower the stock of short-term non-citizens working and studying in New Zealand.    They will ease, a little, demand for housing.  In some specific sectors, with lots of short-term immigrant labour, they may ease downward pressures on wages (although in general, immigrants add more to demand than to supply, and that applies to students too).   But it won’t change the expected medium-term migration inflow.

Oh, and the student visa changes will, all else equal, reduce exports

Selling education to foreign students is an export industry, and tighter rules will (on Labour’s own numbers) mean a reduction in the total sales of that industry.   Does that bother me?  No, not really.  When you subsidise an activity you tend to get more of it.  We saw that with subsidies to manufacturing exporters in the 1970s and 80s, and with subsidies to farmers at around the same time.  We see it with film subsidies today.  Export incentives simply distort the economy, and leave us with lower levels of productivity, and wealth/income, than we would otherwise have.   In export education, we haven’t been giving out government cash with the export sales, but the work rights (during study and post-study) and the preferential access to points in applying for residence are subsidies nonetheless.  If the industry can stand on its own feet, with good quality educational offerings pitched at a price the market can stand, then good luck to it.  If not, we shouldn’t be wanting it here any more than we want car assembly plants or TV manufacturing operations here.

I participated in a panel discussion on Radio New Zealand this morning on Labour’s proposed changes.  In that discussion I was surprised to hear Eric Crampton suggest that the changes would put material additional pressure on the finances of universities.    Perhaps, although (a) the changes are explicitly aimed at sub-degree level courses, and (b) to the extent that universities are getting students partly because of the residence points that have been on offer, it is just another form of “corporate welfare” or subsidy that one would typically expect the New Zealand Initiative to oppose.      Whether hidden or explicit, industry subsidies aren’t a desirable feature of economic policy.

Standing back, Labour’s proposal look as though they might make a big difference in only a small number of sectors, notably the lower end of the export education market.  If implemented, they will be likely to temporarily demand housing demand –  perhaps reinforcing the current weakness in the Auckland housing market, along with some of their other proposed legislation (eg the extension of the brightline test and the “healthy homes” bill).   But they aren’t any sort of solution to the house price problem either: after the single year adjustment, population growth projections will be as strong as ever, and in the face of those pressures only fixing the urban land market will solve that problem. Time will tell what Labour’s policy proposals in that area, which have sounded promising, will come to.

Two final thoughts.  One wonders if whatever heat there has been in the immigration issue –  and it didn’t figure hugely in the election –  will fade if the headline numbers start to turn down again anyway.   The net flow  of New Zealanders to Australia has not yet shown signs of picking up –  but it will resume as the Australian labour market recovers.  But in the latest numbers, there has been some sign of a downturn in the net inflow of non-citizens.

PLT non citizen

There is a long way to go to get back to the 11250 a quarter that is roughly consistent with the 45000 residence approvals planned for each year.  But, if sustained, this correction would provide at least some temporary relief on the housing and transport fronts.  As above, Labour’s changes will have a one-off effect on further reducing this net inflow in the next 12 or 18 months, but nothing material beyond that.

And in case this post is seen by the new Minister of Immigration, or that person’s advisers, could I make a case for two things:

  • first, better and more accessible data.  The readily useable migration approvals is published only once a year, with a lag even then of four or five months.  The latest Migration Trends and Outlook was released in November 2016, covering the year to June 2016.  It is inexcusably poor that we do not have this data readily, and easily useable, available monthly, within a few days of the end of the relevant month, and included (for example) as part of Statistics New Zealand’s Infoshare platform.  The monthly PLT data are useful for some things, but if you want a good quality discussion and debate around immigration policy, make the immigration approvals data more easily available.    As a comparison, building permits data is quickly and easily available, reported by SNZ.  Why not migration approvals?
  • second, considering referring the issue of the economics of New Zealand immigration to the Productivity Commission for an inquiry.   Perhaps the current policy, as Labour proposes to amend it, has all the net gains the advocates say it does.  If so, the Productivity Commission could helpfully, and in a non-partisan way, demonstrate that.  But there are still serious issues around New Zealand’s unusually liberal immigration policy, in a country so remote and with such a poor track record in increasing its international trade share.  Whatever the economic merits of immigration in some places, it is by no means sure that large scale immigration here is doing anything to improve the fortunes of most New Zealanders.  It may, in fact, be holding us back, being one part of the story as to why we’ve failed to make any progress in closing the productivity gaps with other advanced economies.  It would seem an obvious topic for the Productivity Commission, and a good way of lifting the quality of the policy debate around this really substantial policy intervention.

 

 

 

53 thoughts on “The new government’s immigration policy

  1. A cut of 30,000 international students a year would mean the entire new years intake of international students. I suspect the government would likely face a class action legal suit by the education providers. By now its probably already too late as Visas would have been issued already for the new years intake.

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    • A cut of that magnitude in a $4 billion industry would wipe out $1 billion off export GDP and the impact to domestic GDP is another $1 billion. The tax consequence would be a $500 million hole in GST not collected plus income tax not available to be paid.

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      • In other words, successive governments created a monster, i.e. an industry swelled, thanks to lax and misguided immigration policy, and the monster doesn’t want to go back in the cage. It’s funny how given enough time, a rort becomes an entitlement.

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      • exactly Matt – the rort becomes the entitlement – take a guess – do you think these fringe-dwelling PTE’s have been meticulous in accounting for GST and Income Taxes

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      • “The average dairy farmer is paying less tax than a couple on the pension – raising questions about whether the sector touted as the backbone of the economy is paying its fair share.”

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/5017279/Dairy-farmers-paying-no-tax

        Its likely better than our $11 billion dairy industry that pays hardly any tax afterall export sales is zero rated for GST whereas international students do spend up $4 billion in NZ and do pay GST. Ask the Warehouse where their sales comes from?.

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      • I’m with Matt and iconoclast on that one – we’ll be much better off without that form of exploitation in our economy.

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    • Those numbers look suspiciously wrong. I have not met any students that apply for their study visa on the day they arrive in NZ to start their studies after spending huge amounts in airfare to turn up and no assurances that their Visa has had prior approval? Therefore Visa issued in early new year would likely be issued 6 to12 months in advance of the study programme.

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  2. Yes – the visa adjustment down is a one-off but the lowered level should be maintained and not increase in the out-years

    In the transition year when 75000 short-term visas are issued and 100000 departures will produce a headline number of “migrants fall by 25000” now that’s success – yes it is – but you will need to provide further and better particulars supporting the claim that it “is not different than otherwise (otherwise?) in the years beyond that

    If currently the monthly arrivals are (theoretically) 8333 (100000/12) and they are managed down to 6250 per month then the ongoing arrivals will remain at the lowered level of 75000 and significantly won’t be increasing

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    • But since these are, by definition, short-term visas in time the ongoing departures will also average 6250 a month. It is the residence approvals programme that, almost entirely, determines the medium-term average contribution non-citizen migration makes to our population growth. And that target number hasn’t been changed at all.

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  3. Cutting the points available for having studied in New Zealand will reduce the appeal of New Zealand universities relative to those overseas. That scheme is arguably a distortion, if you don’t think that having lived and studied here makes you more likely to have successful outcomes as a migrant to New Zealand. But if it is a distortion, it is a a distortion within a regime that explicitly seeks to subsidise domestic students by charging high fees to foreign students. A first best would do away with the bulk of tuition subsidies but we are nowhere near that world.

    Losing the one-year study-to-work visa will be damaging for sub-Bachelor institutions because students would rightly know that it would be difficult to be able to gain employment in New Zealand on completion of study. Many students can wind up stuck where an employer is reluctant to offer a job because they won’t know if the applicant is eligible to work until the visa is set, but the visa is not available until the applicant has the points that come with an offer of employment. The study-to-work visa helps get around that.

    You’re right that there could be some rorts in the international training sector overall, but the way to address that should be better outcome monitoring. For example, we could restrict eligibility for the better visa arrangements to institutions that demonstrate a good track record of progressing students through to work in their chosen field – linking education, migration, and LEED could do it.

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    • Your final paragraph sounds plausible – as I noted in my original post I’m uneasy about officials trying to make arbitrary judgements about “high quality” courses.

      On the first para, two thoughts. First, I doubt that studying at a NZ university materially alters the likelihood of a successful migration experience, but even if does to some extent that effect is probably outweighed by bias the system sets up against better, more skilled, people who have studied elsewhere (eg your own good self) – after all, our universities don’t rank overly highly globally. Pragmatically, I can imagine a system that treated all universities in the Anglosphere pretty similarly – and perhaps even others in the top 200 universities globally – and gave graduates of such universities preference over others. If young Chinese really wants to live here, I’d not want to hold it against him/her that they studied at ANU rather than AUT. And I’d rather a young Brit wanting to migrate here studied at Oxford than at Canterbury or Victoria.

      On fees, is your suggestion is that our universities are charging higher fees to foreign students than is typical in other countries? If so, given that they attract a lot of students you’d have to suppose the points were a big part of the deal. But is there evidence of what you suggest? (I’m sure universities et al are charging foreign students above marginal cost, but is the pricing behaviour different than in other countries?)

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      • Getting the right baseline for comparing non-resident and resident tuition fees won’t be easy. Domestic tuition fees will come with hefty government subsidies in most places, and you’d need to top those onto the charged tuition as a starting point to tell how much extra universities are really charging foreign students. I know at Canterbury foreign students were worth more than domestic students for the College’s bottom line, and that we went to a great deal of effort to attract them as consequence.

        So I’m not sure whether other places rely more or less heavily on full-fee international students. The more important question: I’m sure I’m right that there would be an effect at the margin. But how big would that effect be? Tougher question and I don’t think it can be answered just by looking at the domestic-international tuition price difference.

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  4. Eric – how so

    “Cutting the points available for having studied in New Zealand will reduce the appeal of New Zealand universities relative to those overseas”

    Please explain what you are getting at – universities sell education – not residency rights

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    • Currently, study at a NZ university gives you a leg-up in any future work visa application. That makes studying here more appealing to anyone who thinks that they might develop a longer term liking for the place where they’ve studied. Removing that option reduces the value of studying here relative to other places and makes NZ universities less attractive.

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      • That is an omnibus explanation without going in to too much depth

        New Zealand Universities do not rank very high on the global University Rankings and certainly much lower than Australian Universities – one assumes that those rankings reflect the quality of the education and the end product that comes out at the other end – so one has to wonder what New Zealand Universities are really selling – not top quality internationally regarded degrees, or are they targeted at attracting lower quality students to put bums-on-seats in order to maintain the budgets of the universities

        My son has a double degree from Monash University with honours in electrical engineering and computer science plus 5 years working for IBM. The New Zealand Government ran a recruiting roadshow in Melbourne 2 years ago – he attended – and didn’t even get a follow up let alone an interview – must have been a wave-the-flag sham

        New Zealand Universities need to start offering degrees or certificates-of-proficiency in construction and building and carpentry – Today two economists from Kiwibank are complaining the shortage in the building industry is for skilled labour – heck what do you have to do to get some skill in labouring

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      • Whitecloud: there are not many places where immigration is discussed and when it is discussed it is done so by people who are either upper middle class or academics. My son has started working as an apprentice builder – in other words a labourer. His knowledge level is low but he loves the work compared to hating school. He and his mates will not be reading this website.

        It is wrong that he should ever find himself competing with foreigners. I have no trouble with Professors of Sociology or Economics having to watch over their shoulder for cheaper better foreign academics trying to displace them but there should be no competition for the low paid with those willing to work for third world wages.

        Mr Reddell’s high fee for a work visa would solve this problem. It is not one of his original ideas since it was standard in PNG thirty years ago. I too hope the new Minister of Immigration is reading this post and I rather hope it will be Andrew Little – a former Union leader is more likely to act for the best of Kiwi workers.

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      • Unless there is a concerted effort to lift the standards of New Zealand Universities there comes a time when we will be confronted by “locked-in-syndrome” unless that has happened already

        I mean many degrees manufactured here in New Zealand are not recognised in other places

        A friend of mine qualified as a medical doctor specialising as a pathologist here in NZ then shifted to Australia. He managed to obtain recognition in the Australian College about 1 or two years before they closed the doors. His qualifications would not be recognised in Australia today without doing another 2 years study.

        Thus, New Zealand is producing graduates of questionable calibre that have to be absorbed into New Zealand regardless. It behooves NZ to produce graduates the country needs and can be productive in a New Zealand context

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      • Not just a comparison of international universities today; my own immigration point count gave the same points for my Scottish degree when under 5% of school leavers attended university as it did when 25 years later 50% of Scots went to university. I cannot believe that a tenfold increase of students didn’t mean a reduction in quality.

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      • Non recognition of degrees is a protection barrier towards entry and keeps professional salaries higher than it needs to be. This is common practice amongst professional degrees all over the world. Eg, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand does not recognise Australian CPA’s even though that is the dominant Accountant’s qualification in Australia. It is considered by CAANZ as inferior and require additional studies to upgrade to CAANZ.

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  5. Good to hear you on the radio this morning. Keep reiterating the need to cut PR approvals and, who knows, you may reverse the curse of Cassandra and the new minister (and Government) may hear you and take heed. Here’s hoping anyway!

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  6. If only there were some “hard-headed analysis of the economic costs and benefits to New Zealanders” — all I hear from the anti-immigration crowd is rhetoric interspersed with waffle. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, there’s overwhelming international evidence on the benefits of trade in human capital (just like in all other goods and services), but for some unknown reason this is deemed irrelevant to NZ (even when the data include NZ).

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    • If you want to engage with the serious arguments I’ve mounted over the years, which have been given credence by, among others, the Productivity Commission, I’d be very happy to hear the counter-arguments.

      There is good reason why govt-sponsored immigration would not be beneficial to natives always and everywhere (which is not, at all, the same as an argument that there might not be overall gains: migrants presumably gain or they would not migrate, and we’ve had a very large number of migrants in the last 25 years.

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      • A equal argument would be that New Zealanders would also have gained otherwise why have any migrants in the first place??

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      • Oh someone is benefitting from the immigration all right, but it’s not ‘New Zealanders’ in the broader sense.

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      • Except that with (at the extreme) no non-citizen immigration, the Maori share of the total population would be even larger (materially so) than it is. I’d argue that Maori have a better chance of having their rights/interests/perspectives respected/acknowledged in the longer term in a largely bi-cultural NZ, rather than one in which Maori are just another (and sadly underperforming) minority.

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      • “Indeed, Maori has gained from the increased migration of other races diluting Pakeha majority.”

        You know, I generally regard your posts as having a tenuous relationship both to reality and logic, but this one particularly so. Well done(?) I guess.

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      • Matt, I do not think strategically it is that far fetched. Maori elite are very good strategic thinkers.

        “Auckland University academic Margaret Mutu has caused controversy by saying there should be a cap on white migrants coming to New Zealand, something Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley says highlights ongoing tension around immigration and Maori.

        Ms Mutu said migrants from countries including South Africa and England bring “an attitude of white supremacy” into the country and are swamping Maori.”

        http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/immigration-causes-tension-for-maori-2011090509

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      • “The Maori Party have adopted a new populist and racist anti-immigration policy. But whereas populists like Winston Peters have suggested there’s too much asian immigration, the Maori Party say there are too many whites coming to New Zealand. Party leader, Tariana Turia lamely rejects the comparison, saying ‘No, we aren’t playing the race card, because we are not talking about Asian immigration.’

        She says the effect of white immigration has been to stop the Maori gaining an additional electorate in the latest Statistics NZ calculation.”

        http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2007/02/the_maori_party.html

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      • Wow, somebody said something and someone else wrote an article about it. Compelling evidence if I’ve ever heard it.

        No.

        I have seen zero evidence that there is are aligned interests or a natural affinity for Maori among, let’s call them non-white immigrants – Chinese, Indian, whatever. But rather than make this a referendum on what I’ve seen or not seen, show me. Good luck.

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      • Matt, 2 articles that suggest serious thinking by very senior Maori elite is more compelling than your counter argument with zero supporting documentation?

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      • Make up your mind, are we gauging Maori ‘elites’ resentment of whites, or are we gauging whether Maori actually benefit materially from (now we’re limited to non-white) immigrants? Do these immigrants exhibit any particularly awareness, sympathy or identification with Maori, and how do these immigrants, if they vote, vote on Maori issues? Given that many (most?) recent immigrants are likely competing with Maori for jobs, housing, and may (at recent rates) eventually relegate Maori to Just Another Ethnic Identity, yours is the case that’s hard to make.

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  7. I am rejoicing that the new government has specifically expressed concern about the exploitation of foreign workers. Reading Dr Stringer’s report I believe this to be widespread and any solution will also eradicate the associated rorts and corruption. Moral issues are more important than financial issues – although in the US civil war the Southern States argued otherwise. I’m waiting for the announcement that the labour inspectorate has been temporarily doubled to identify and prosecute the worst abuses.

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  8. The manifesto explicitly says

    “Labour will increase the number of, and resourcing for, Labour INspectors who are responsible for enforcing employment law and prosecuting breaches, and ensure that Labour INspectors are located in areas with high levels of migrant labour”.

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    • Phil Twyford has confirmed that he will be bringing in more foreign workers to build his 10,000 houses a year on land he still has not bought. The numbers he is talking about is similar to the Christchurch earthquake which does suggest another 30,000 foreign workers a year.The NZ dollar continues to slide with a Labour/NZF government that continues to live in a fantasy world where money grows on trees.

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  9. From the Labour & Greens confidence and supply agreement “”Refugees: Adequately fund and support family re-unification for refugees.””

    It will be interesting to see if refugees will be able bring their families in when the Department of Immigration arbitrarily froze it for non-refugee immigrants in the middle of last year.

    Immigration deserves an informed rational debate.

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      • It is unclear. There is a quota for refugees and it includes family but presumably not family who arrive after the refugees are settles. From memory the quota for 2016/17 is still 750 and 2017/18 was intended to be 1,000. Labour have proposed 2,000 and Greens suggested 5,000 and NZF haven’t expressed an opinion but presumably are unenthusiastic. So if Greens win and the coalition agrees to 5,000 ( unlikely) it would be just 5,000.

        Unfreezing the family reunion category seems reasonable. Certainly hearing on the radio this morning of five people in their 80’s threatened with deportation because they had sold up at home and then come to NZ and applied for the family reunion visa to be unexpected denied by last years freeze seems to be a failure of natural justice.

        There is no problem with family reunion so long as it costs NZ nothing – that is their medical benefits and pension are paid for by their family not by the taxpayer. What would be odd is allowing in say elderly parents of Afghan refugees but not the parents of immigrants who arrived under other immigration categories. If nothing else it would be racial prejudice against the Chinese, English and Indians.

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    • All very altruistic – what is needed is full and open transparency of the annual cost of the refugee program – motherhood statements such as “increase the humanitarian intake to 5000 per year” amounts to finger-wagging by finger-waggers who expect someone else to foot the bill

      If full details were available of the total cost to New Zealand purse on a cumulative basis you might modify your wishes

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  10. Yes, but 15,000 maybe conservative. As Michael suggested Labour (as National) follow or obey “global elites” the “refugees” wont be real refugees but what Europe and Canada have been taking in: Muslim invaders. Golriz Ghahraman has already stated this approach.

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    • National should push forward with the Kermadec Santuary and put Greens to either abstain or vote against. National should now also block any increase in the refugee quota and see what NZF will do, abstain or vote against any increase.

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    • I think you are being alarmist with the number – assume the average Muslim refugee arrives with wife and two children then adding say two parents would convert the improbable 5,000 to 7,500. Many refugees simply don’t have living parents.

      And alarmist about Muslim refugees. There are figures for Muslim countries but some of these refugees will be minority Christians, Yazidi, Jews, etc.

      Eventually the refugee debate will move on from “there are refugees in terrible conditions, lets show we pull our weight, show our charity and bring some to NZ” to a more rational “there are refugees in terrible conditions, lets show our charity by asking the experts how to spend our aid to help them most effectively”.
      We may spend more but lets consider should we spend money in the camps or in NZ and with refugees should we help the sick and disabled who most need help or do we search for the fit and bright graduates in the camps?

      I’m not worried about Muslim invaders but I do wonder about that African refugee about to be released from prison who has a compulsion to hijack planes. And the one wanted by Australia for people smuggling leading to multiple deaths. How are refugees selected? Who does the mental health checks? What is the success rate with our refugee policy and how can it be improved. What does it cost too.

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      • “…There are figures for Muslim countries but some of these refugees will be minority Christians, Yazidi, Jews, etc…”

        Actually there is a major problem with this assumption.

        https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2009/12/the-origins-of-the-crisis-in-immigration-policy/

        “…While the size of the Humanitarian Program did not vary greatly, the “quality” of those entering Australia under it (whether as Refugees or SHP entrants) steadily deteriorated. By “quality” I mean the cultural compatibility of these migrants with Australian society, their average proficiency (or rather, non-proficiency) in the English language, their previous exposure to community violence and hence their hardened attitudes to violence generally, and their only too often dubious medical records…
        • An important reason for the poor quality of those entering Australia under the Humanitarian Program lies in the methods for their selection. In effect, responsibility for selecting the Refugee component has been almost entirely delegated to the UNHCR, from whose worldwide camps these individuals are drawn. Not surprisingly, the UNHCR uses this virtual carte blanche to send to Australia as many as possible of the “hard cases” under its charge.

        To take an obvious example of another stupidity to which such delegation leads, a large proportion of those to whom Refugee visas are granted cannot speak English (and have made no attempt to learn to do so even while squatting for years in UNHCR camps). Yet of the up to 12 million people under UNHCR care, literally millions would be English-speaking at various levels. If our choice were confined to these latter, not only would Australian taxpayers be saved the great expense now incurred in providing these people with English-language classes post-arrival, but they themselves would also be able to enter the employed workforce (and the community) much more quickly than is currently the case…”

        The whole article is worth a read.

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      • Philip Hayward: Thank you for the link. Clearly not written by someone enthusiastic for immigration to Australia but it does support the same point that I made: who is checking the refugees? Are UNHCR mixing some real hard cases with the needy and more deserving? The point about people with “hardened attitudes to violence generally” was made to me by Bengalis 25 years ago referring to recent Somali refugees.

        I still assert that it is wrong to claim that a refugee is synonymous with being a Muslim. The Dept of Immigration records gender and country of origin but not religion. Just a glance and the data for 20-29 year old refugees 2016/17 does show several Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Somali, Eriterea, etc but it also shows Sri Lanka, Colombia, Vietnam, Malawi.

        It seems to me rather obvious that whatever refugees we do take should be people who have no possibility of return to their homes: that would include some Yazidis from Syria because you cannot ask a young woman who has seen her family massacred and then been sold as a sex slave to return home. However there may be Muslim refugees from non-Muslim countries that we could take: say from Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines.

        Certainly it would be worthwhile having an unbiased review of our successes and failures before we expand our current refugee intake. Our government’s taking refugees is an act of charity so we should check that we are succeeding in actually doing good for all concerned.

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      • Bob says, “I’m not worried about Muslim invaders.”

        So you do not mind sharia law: female genital mutilation, rape of non muslims boys and girls, muslim girls married as young as nine year old, beating their wives, slavery, sex slavery, killing non muslims and so on. You are either clueless about Islam, the history of Islam, current Islam in the 57 muslim countries and current Islam in Europe where all of the above and more are practised or you are a masochist.

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      • On Sharia law in the UK see https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/07/uk-sharia-councils-dont-prejudice-womens-rights-they-defend-them/

        John on your list of evil practices associated with Muslims – you would have to agree that they apply to a minority of Muslims and it doesn’t take much consideration of the history of any sizeable society or religion to find most of them plus slavery, torture and persecution of homosexuals. Arguing that these evils are inherent to the Muslim faith would lead you to a similar argument about the characteristics of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc and although the arguments might be fascinating they are unlikely to ever come to a resolution.

        Donald Trump said “”If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”” That is an idea that troubles me. But it doesn’t apply to refugees since NZ has the right and opportunity to check each proposed refugee and not just trust a UNHCR agency.

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  11. …on a somewhat related note, the NZ First racing policy seems to allow for the liberal importation of mares: demand and supply implications? Not sure at first but does get the mind ticking over – one for the final stages of a bachelor degree perhaps…

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  12. Bob, you espouse the ignorance of many in the west today. Actually the resolution is extremely simple:

    Religion (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Judaism) can be defined as an identification of the golden rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Only Islam has nothing of this principle. In fact it has Al Walaa wal Baraa. Love muslims hate non-muslims.

    So your complete lack of understanding highlights you do not grasp while a Hindu may kill someone it is not mandated or acceptable to their core beliefs nor is it part of any other religions core beliefs. Only Islam mandates killing: killing muslims who leave Islam and non-muslims in general until they become muslims or accept a slave’s existence. So in your confused thinking that all things are equal, in fact they are not equal. There are bad ideologies and Islam excels in this area.

    Of course not all muslims follow Mohammed ‘s example but a good muslim does wish to emulate him by copying his, enslavement of non-muslims (https://www.politicalislam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/PDF-Look-Inside/Sharia_Non-Muslim_look_inside.pdf http://www.answering-islam.org/NonMuslims/rights.htm), marrying six year olds (Islamic countries allow marriage at 9 for girls and 15 for boys), deceit (takiyya; http://www.islam-watch.org/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htm) and violence (The Quran contains at least 109 verses that speak of war with nonbelievers, usually on the basis of their status as non-Muslims).

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