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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

Are our immigration settings right?

With the pressure on housing, originally in Auckland and now moving to the Bay of Plenty, the spotlight goes on to finding solutions. Immigration looks to be an obvious anomaly, but is it? John Key says that it is a sign of this country’s success, and while I agree in part (the reversal of the past exodus to Australia certainly is), I think he needs to look deeper.

Immigration NZ sets points for entry, but we seem to be filling our numbers with too many immigrants who end up as low paid workers. Yes they are filling a gap in our employment because too many of our beneficiaries just aren’t prepared to “get their hands dirty”. I know that is a generalisation, but you only have to look at our horticulture industries to see that there are plenty of employment opportunities if you are prepared to work. What is interesting however is the difference in work quality between the likes of the Indian labour force, and those from the Pacific Islands (working under the RSE Scheme). Production increases from careful pruning etc in the kiwifruit industry is showing that the RSE workers are doing a better job, and this is translating into better yields for growers. I would think that there would be an even bigger disparity if these workers were entirely replaced with our New Zealand unemployed.

Yes we do need to restrict low end working migrants, because (one) they are competing with our unemployed, and (two) they add pressure to our housing crisis. But is immigration restriction a single bullet – I don’t think so. However it is another “tool in the toolbox”. 70,000 immigrants a year is not sustainable.

If you have a view on these or any other local government issues, I invite you to email me

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