Why blaming Immigrants won’t solve our problems: The one press release that highlights how tough this election could be for Labour & Greens

By   /   April 26, 2017  /   22 Comments

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The truth is that the biggest challenge to our housing crisis is foreign speculators and domestic slum lords, allowing immigrants to become the focus ignores those doing the most damage and avoids the free market dynamics that are exacerbating issues in New Zealand.

The need to clamp down on work visas, student visas and the temporary work and study visa schemes in an attempt to take the pressure off our over stretched and under funded infrastructure and housing crisis is just part of the solution to New Zealand’s growing pains, home ownership challenges and inequality.

It can’t be the main focus.

I believe we need to crack down on migrant worker and student visas because many of these workers and students are exploited by the current system and it lets domestic employers off the hook for providing decent wages and conditions while forcing the domestic working class to compete with a global working class for jobs and accomodation, but I also believe we should triple our refugee numbers because we have human rights obligations to the worst off from around the world.

Here is some truth

We have 150,000 workers here at any one time on a temporary work visa. We have 100,000 fee-paying students. The government issues 250,000 temporary work visas a year.

We have been issuing around 40,000 permanent residence visas a year for the last several decades. Changes to how people qualify for these visas under the skilled work category makes no fundamental difference to the temporary visa scam.

…and here is more truth, the biggest challenge to our housing crisis is foreign speculators and domestic slum lords, allowing immigrants to become the focus ignores those doing the most damage and avoids the free market dynamics that are exacerbating issues in New Zealand.

The entire tax system is geared to property speculation, the increased migration keeps the property bubble building, multiple home owners keep attempting to maximise their profit margin by pushing up rentals and the lack of infrastructure means urban sprawl will only make gridlock even worse.

In short, our free market greed has dug us into this hole and just blaming migrants won’t get us out of it.

That isn’t going to matter in the election. It is far easier to blame migrants than greedy domestic speculators or the selfish middle classes, which is why this press release from the increasingly militant Migrant And Refugee Rights Campaign highlights how difficult this election could become for Labour and the Greens…

We need a Left that will challenge xenophobia

We need a Left that will challenge xenophobia

Phil Twyford’s call to cut immigration is unacceptable, says Migrant and Refugee Rights spokesperson/Wellington Central candidate Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“We need a Left that will challenge xenophobia,” says Gayaal, “Rather than pandering to the logic that allowed Trump’s raise.”

Gayaal says that the notion of migrants as a strain is misleading. “Resource distribution is not a zero-sum game. Migrants are a net benefit to New Zealand in terms of GDP and taxes paid, not a strain on infrastructure.”

Gayaal says that there is a problem with exploitation under work visas, but this would be best addressed by ensuring that migrant workers have the right to organise for better conditions.

“As a unionist, I represent migrant workers daily,” says Gayaal. “There’s nothing inevitable about the race to the bottom, only solidarity can undermine that logic of competition, and improve conditions for everyone.”

“Divide and rule is the oldest trick in the book.”

The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign has called a May Day March for migrant and refugee rights in Wellington. The event will begin with speeches on Cuba St, midday on Monday the 1st, before marching on Immigration New Zealand to deliver a written statement. Groups participating in the march include Changemakers Refugee Forum, the Public Service Association (PSA), the International Socialist Organisation, Peace Action Wellington, Fightback and Doing Our Bit – Double the Refugee Quota.

…NZ First is going to use an explosive mix of anti-migrant rhetoric and anti-Maori Party tactics to take a huge chunk of National’s votes in the provinces. Activists who are currently turning on Labour and the Greens for their sustainable immigration stances will demand these MPs denounce NZ First in no uncertain terms, the trouble for the Greens and Labour however is that they are highly unlikely to get to 51% by themselves and will need NZ First to get there so they will be very cautious about attacking Winston.

This will turn the likes of  Migrant and Refugee Rights and their Wellington based allies into pretty vicious critics of the Greens and Labour. You’ve already had senior staff members from Wellington based Unions pulled up about claiming Andrew Little is racist on Twitter, I can’t see them being particularly polite when Winston starts his barn storm across the provinces.

Labour and the Greens are going to find it very difficult to keep twitter activists happy this election and that could damage the solidarity necessary to get National out of power.

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22 Comments

  1. roy says:

    When I think of immigrants, I think of the likes of “Sir” Peter Theil, James Cameron, Schwarznegger (yes that one) and the other billionaires who can drift in every year or two to pick up another prime property or hundred.

    We simply can’t afford these aresholes.

    Which I guess is what you’re alluding to.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Immigration is totally unintelligible, the entire economic thesis both left and right have been thoroughly discredited. Those that attempt to defend these failed economic models, in a political sense have been thrown to the wall, traditional party politics are finished.

      No one says lets not accept migrants, we bicker most about how many but only the extremist few say close the boarders. Its not that we shouldn’t receive migrants its at what capacity, NZ has entered into a couple of migrant swap deals worth about 2000 or so every year that New Zealand accepts from Australian refuge prisons. A number of those are NZ citizens caught up in other legal we can look up the details of in our own time but this is a plausible example of how many migrants New Zealand can process per year. If any one is saying this is the best New Zealand could do when the migrant crises starts at 50 million. No sane kiwis I know would defend that. If it turns out that processing migrant refugees, giving them basic on the job training and house training, shopping ect (some may not be use to a dairy economy and so on) but not just education. Migrants need opportunities as well.

      For no less than 100% of all migrants have to New Zealand because it sucks less than the democratic country they are fleeing. Some will even be executed if they repatriate. Most migrants have nothing to return to any way so dangling free money in front of them ie welfare, even state housing/education/health and so on, im not saying lets not provide welfare im saying it is unintelligible. If you want a serious conversation about how many migrants New Zealand can process, find out how many state house we have currently and that is how many New Zealand should be uplift into middle class every year an there are reasons why all this is disrupted because elites don’t want to fix the problem, if it was fixed no one would bid up obsolescence farms and south auckland mansions, so we must all focus on fake news.

      So immigration is totally unintelligible. New Zealanders just no idea what New Zealand is, Bill English doesn’t even understand what New Zealand is. New Zealand capacity to produce has been running around half for 40 years. So instead of incremental efficiency exercises for the last 40 years we should have been scaling up. Ok our cities got bigger by consuming less. Ridiculous.

    • Gosman says:

      James Cameron lives here a largd percentage of the year and is filming two more Avatar films bringing tens of millions to the NZ economy. Yeah kick him out.

  2. I agree with cutting immigration and upping refugee intake – for pretty much the exact reasons you list. But it is quite clear we can’t do it until we’ve built more houses, improved roading and expanded school capacity and hospital/medical capacity (which of course means more teachers, more nurses, more doctors at both specialist and GP level). Which means first electing a government which will do that. Quick breather to plan it out and implement it and we can be on that track with a plan to ensure that our intake get what they need – good medical, good schools, paths to employment etc. which will ensure that they don’t just get dumped off in backwaters and left to fend for themselves as new members of an already burgeoning underclass.

  3. tony ricketts says:

    “they are highly unlikely to get to 51% by themselves and will need NZ First to get there so they will be very cautious about attacking Winston.”

    HOWEVER, they don’t need to get to 51%; as long as together they have more than National it will be impossible for NZFirst or even Maori Party to go the other way – this isn’t 1996. If National get fewer party votes than Labour+Greens that will e seen as defeat, and Winston doesn’t like siding with losers.

  4. Castro says:

    Spoken like a true homeowner, Martyn. Migrants like Gary Lin, with his multi-million dollar property portfolio, need to be stripped of their residency/citizenship and sent back to whence they came. You think we need more of his ilk, eh? Hmmmm….

  5. Shawn says:

    Okay, that’s fine. Cut the immigration and cut down the number of student visas. But it’s not a solution to the problem, if we can’t handle the net gain of approx 90k people in the country, then we not better than a than a developing nation.

    We we are allowing speculation on basic necessity of life, then it a cultural problem and is a grim reminder of what we are becoming.

    So don’t go off on a tangent, de-humanising the migrants. They are humans, with aspirations, wishes and sense of justice, just like us kiwis.

    Let’s be fair do the following as well:

    1. Stop charging foreign students three times the fees paid by local students.

    2. They can thus save that money and use that towards their living expenses while they stay here

    3. Win = Win

    4. Everyone who earns and pays tax here should be entitled for access to social services, at par with a kiwi (except the dole perhaps)

    Now, don’t blame immigrants for that mole on your chin.

    P.S. – General observation, an average kiwi feels entitled and looks for governmnet to sort his/her shit out, tries to find excuses for his/her shortcomings.

    Migrants find opportunities and move up. We need to learn from them, not bash them. It hasn’t helped in the past, will not help in the future.

    Here is an article from the past, which reminds so much of the society that NZ used to be and how much we have changed. Blaming migrants again for the failings of our own succesive govts. and an over-regulated economy.

    Bigotary helps nobody. Logic will.

    ASIATIC INVASION., NORTHERN ADVOCATE, 24 APRIL 1920

    https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NA19200424.2.6

    • In Vino says:

      Get real Shawn. Our schools and universities have been forced since the 1980s to fish for foreign students and exploit them. Our Govt does not fund schools well. Without the exploitation of foreign students our school system would collapse.

      Who would fund the schools? This is a disgustingly immoral way to help fund an education system, but our Govt has become an expert at it, and our education system would now be close to collapse if you took away that rip-off of foreign students.

      This should be a matter of national shame for all NZ.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      What are you talking about, reducing fees for foreign students, then the government here has to pay more for running universities, means more taxes. OK with me, but wait for the voter back-lash.

      Actually, foreign students pay a heck of a lot more than even you think (see University of Auckland fees):
      https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/fees-and-money-matters/tuition-fees/undergraduate-international-fees.html

      Local students:
      https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/fees-and-money-matters/tuition-fees/undergraduate-domestic-fees.html

      It is HUGE business, immigration, that is part of the problem, so many are “earning” from it.

      And students from overseas can Study and Work here, and have also an easier pathway to residence, if they wish to pursue it.
      http://nzstudywork.immigration.govt.nz/
      http://nzstudywork.immigration.govt.nz/information-for-employers/students-staying-after-study/

      But recently the government made it a bit harder:
      https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/skilled-migrant-category-changes

      So the government is already making it harder for many, particularly lower skilled, who may not be able to earn 49k per annum.

      What they are doing is jig the system, so by the time election comes, immigration will be less of a topic, as the government will claim, they are already addressing the issue. That is why Labour needs to address other matters anyway, and present a good set of policies, it is a folly to believe that the election can be won simply by banging on about immigration and housing, a proper alternative plan must be presented by Labour and Greens.

    • saveNZ says:

      @Shawn” if we can’t handle the net gain of approx 90k people in the country, then we not better than a than a developing nation”

      …. actually we used to be a 1st world country before the National government pushed 500,000+ more into our country, to make us a low wages economy based on construction and cows.

      Now one of our biggest exports is ‘profits’ – making us a banana republic.

      People can’t afford to live in their own country.

      But to you it’s an over-regulated economy.

      I like the migrants who come here and value NZ and there is plenty who do and make NZ a better place. But increasingly as National government removed all criteria we are getting migrant criminals selling p and organised crime, and those who want to turn it into a junior version of their own country with all the resulting problems of water quality, poverty, corruption, consumption and food scares.

      Smart countries ban people from buying up property if they are not citizens. Especially if there is a housing crisis.

      Most migrants I know are just in NZ because it’s the easiest place to migrate to and they are not qualified to go anywhere else. Their plan is to get permanent residency and then move to Australia for real wages, or back home while getting more relatives here for schooling and health reasons.

      Yes they may be humans, with aspirations, wishes and sense of justice, just like us kiwis but it’s the Kiwis who have to pick up the slack and it’s our country being trashed with water quality and car pollution and increasing poverty, lower wages and the housing crisis so someone can live their “dream” as a exploited petrol attendant or McMansion owner.

      Migrant loyalty is to their families and their own needs and not to this country or Kiwis, who many look down on as uncompetitive and with a growing sense of entitlement of more rights to open the flood gates further to create even more problems that can not be eradicated easily.

  6. Mike in Auckland says:

    Nope, do NOT leave immigration as an issue to be dealt with by NZ First, they will only mischievously turn it into something that may resemble xenophobia.

    We need a proper, objective and clear discussion about immigration, and New Zealanders have to my knowledge never been consulted on the level of immigration, as governments, both left and right, have simply made such decisions as they saw fit for decades.

    It is time to be mature about immigration and have a discussion, involving the public, about the level, what size population for Auckland and New Zealand people are comfortable with, and so forth.

    There is no way we will get the housing built in time to cater for the inflow we have had for two and a half years now, and it is supposed to take even longer, well into next year, for this to continue, Paul Spoonley, from Massey Uni, himself agreed on this morning on Nine to Noon.

    Of course a migrant organisation will speak out as they do, they all have some family members overseas, whom they also would like to get here, and then those will also have friends and family, and if you allow this immigration to continue, soon this country will have 10 million population, and perhaps more, and forget then exporting food and stuff, as that will increasingly be needed here.

    Also, to compete with places like China, or even Southeast Asia and South Asia for producing goods, we will have then slave labour do this, as there is NO other way to compete with them.

    If you want to produce high value goods and services, you compete with Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Europe, USA, Israel and many nations on the verge of becoming more developed, we have not got the resources for this.

    Present population is only sustainable with fossil fuel burning, if we have them all equipped with electric cars, then we need at least 50 percent more electricity generation, well much more, with the growing population, add water and food, and we will have the issues other nations have, yet more pollution, more rat race, more scarcity and endless competition.

    Auckland is already in crisis mode, what do we need, more immigrants? I do not think so.

    Of course we must address the slum landlords and overseas speculators, but I bet, there are even more speculators here, that are the ones to blame.

    I cannot believe the naivety, this is a very divided population, I have seen first hand, how people here auction off home after home, to make bucks, and invest it again, to do quick do-ups and flick off homes again and again, riding on the high market.

    Many are born and bred Kiwis, driving imported cars, they are NOT overseas speculators, the most are based here, locals, who take advantage of their own fellow citizens.

    Hence tax reform is needed urgently, bring back progressive taxes, charge 39 and also 49 percent for high earners, and bring in CGT and some land tax or so, to deal to these speculators.

    But immigration is one issue, we must though leave the refugees out, as we can take more of them in, for sure.

  7. Mike in Auckland says:

    When there is a strong inflow of existing permanent residents and NZ citizens returning from overseas, then permanent residence permit issuing must be reduced accordingly, for a while at least. Yes, work visas must be reduced, and local workers employed where possible.

    But there are some issues with local workers, as the skills needed may not be available in the required numbers in the existing population.

    Building the housing to catch up will necessitate letting in some overseas builders, it will simply take too long to train enough locals to do the work competently, you cannot pick up such work qualifications within a few months, it takes time.

    It shows again how repeated governments fail to plan ahead, it is boom and bust, boom and bust, and as qualified people leave disillusioned when things are down, there is the next shortage of workers for the next construction phase.

    • Molly says:

      …”Building the housing to catch up will necessitate letting in some overseas builders”…

      Not if there were changes to planning and building regulations that allowed houses to be built that are currently considered uneconomical. Eg. a two bedroom house that allows for expansion at a later stage. If such a delivery of residences was possible as state housing, then it could be tied in to a comprehensive building apprenticeship scheme that took the apprentices from foundation to roof, and studwork to finishing.

      We have divided our building work into a series of tasks, and there is a number of builders that will never work on a home to completion.

  8. CLEANGREEN says:

    ARE 100% MARTYN.

    “NZ First is going to use an explosive mix of anti-migrant rhetoric and anti-Maori Party tactics to take a huge chunk of National’s votes in the provinces. Activists who are currently turning on Labour and the Greens for their sustainable immigration stances will demand these MPs denounce NZ First in no uncertain terms, the trouble for the Greens and Labour however is that they are highly unlikely to get to 51% by themselves and will need NZ First to get there so they will be very cautious about attacking Winston.”

  9. Stuart Munro says:

    Since Oz no longer cheerfully soaks up our excess labour force, NZ has to start paying attention to jobs and lifetime earning potential here at home. Part of that means stopping the flood of unskilled workers and notional students who were never part of the planning that underlies our current immigration rules.

    Generally speaking, NZers do not support large scale immigration, and thus a policy position in accord with that is both democratically appropriate and electorally sound.

    This need not prevent governments from instituting the long overdue capital gains taxes that are necessary to shift our economy from a rent-seeking to a productive model.

  10. Tom Gardner says:

    “Activists who are currently turning on Labour and the Greens for their sustainable immigration stances will demand these MPs denounce NZ First in no uncertain terms”.

    If Labour and the Greens wish to commit political suicide, they will do what these activists “demand”.
    If they wish to form the next government, they will put the interests of NZers ahead of migrants and refugees.

  11. Mike the Lefty says:

    So National are now telling us they will cut immigration slightly. Very slightly. So slightly that most economic pundits say it won’t make a jot of difference to the housing crisis, the gridlock of Auckland, or anything else.
    But immigration is a central part of National policy – the policy that insures we always have a big pool of cheap Asian labour available to work in the corporate minimum (if you are lucky) wage industries.
    Another example of National pretending to tackle a problem, getting their MSM toadies on Radio Live to tell everyone how wonderful they are but actually doing nothing at all – how typically National.
    A pity that this country can’t wake up to the confused, corrupt and clueless gaggle of self-serving opportunists that form this National government.