Anti-immigration rhetoric blames the victim not the system


Electoral politics is about practicing the art of symbolism, and no more so than in election year. Reactive and populist political successes, aggravating and then preying on peoples’ fears in the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign, show how unfortunately ripe ‘mature’ western democracies are for knee jerk, xenophobic responses to complex, structural problems. It’s the time and the era for political discourses that reinforce prejudices and divisions in society to reinforce the impression of divisions in politics even when the larger agenda shared among political parties is the same. At present in New Zealand we have a rush to the right to see which political party can distinguish itself from the others by blaming immigration and immigrants the most. And strange quarters, like the Labour Party, are coming up ‘Trumps’.

To paraphrase Malcolm X, if we’re not careful, we’ll end up hating the oppressed and loving the oppressors, and that’s the real risk with the anti-immigration foment here in New Zealand and around the Western World.

Instead of blaming the government and the neoliberal capitalist paradigm, for inequality, housing shortages and high costs, and low wages, we blame immigrant workers from the global reserve army of labour come here looking for better lives for themselves and their children. In Europe in an ultimate injustice, refugees from the ravaged Middle East get the blame. Here, some of our immigrants are from the world’s under-developed centres of poverty, working for a pittance because it’s more than they’d make back home. Think of the Filipino care workers, doing humbling, humane and hard work through long hours, for as low as $15.75 an hour, looking after our elderly. At the same time, we blame ‘them’, those ‘others’, ‘immigrants’, for working in servitude, for blocking our roads and buying our houses. (Even if we have several cars and houses ourselves).

We blame immigrants for occupying low paid jobs even though they might have high skills they can’t deploy sometimes because of prejudice against them. We blame immigrants for undercutting New Zealand wages instead of blaming the government and business sectors for a lack of industry relative minimum pay rates, like the old award system. We should be striving for no exploitation of any workers, not just ‘Kiwi’ workers, but including those from other countries come to live here, work here, or supplement the New Zealand work force.

Instead of blaming immigrants and immigration for Auckland’s traffic congestion and infrastructure deficits, we should hold current and previous governments and political parties, and their broader economic agenda, to account, for privatising assets, selling public services, withholding funding tools and investment in the physical and social infrastructure necessary for any city’s maintenance and growth. It’s not immigrants’ fault thousands of litres of partly treated sewage are washed into our harbours every rainstorm. It’s not immigrants’ fault we don’t have a decent public transport network.

It’s not immigrants’ fault that we’re a city of cars.

Statistics New Zealand reports that immigration is mainly driven out of Australia, China and South Africa. As well as seasonal workers from the Pacific, many immigrants are international students, ‘friendly state’ working holiday visitors as part of reciprocal ‘OE’ agreements, spouses and family of new New Zealand residents. Just as we welcome the right to have working holidays in those ‘friendly’ countries, to live with those we have fallen in love with, to learn and even live overseas, so people from the rest of the world, look to those opportunities here.

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Manipulating fears of an Asian invasion, it’s the immigrants who don’t look like us, or talk like us that are portrayed as the greatest problem (“Asian drivers”, “Chinese speculators”, “Filipinos taking jobs in Christchurch and on dairy farms in the South Island”). Different physical characteristics or ways of living and dressing set non-European immigrants apart and make them obvious targets for racism. We’re happy to eat ‘exotic’ food, but don’t want those people living in our communities, or really, in our country. They should ‘assimilate’, ‘become kiwis’, ‘they’re destroying the Kiwi way of life’ – for ‘real kiwis’, and themselves, according to Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

But in the year to June, 2016, 1/5 of immigrant arrivals were from Australia. 2/3 of them were returning Kiwis. And even though Auckland is feeling the pressure of population growth, the squeeze in Auckland is from a mix of causes, not just a single simplistic one. In 2012 we wanted Kiwis to stay in NZ, and come home. The 70,000 net population increase over the last three years is unprecedented, an artefact of economic and political convenience and circumstance, but to keep it in perspective, that equates to only a 1.5% population increase per annum. We’re already one of the most urbanised countries in the world in terms of proportion to the national population, and amid a long term and global trend toward urbanisation. And as our biggest city of opportunity, Auckland is naturally the main destination for internal migration too.

In this week’s announcement that Labour would cut up to 50,000 immigrants a year, by ‘going after’ work visas in particular, the party left unanswered, questions about who they’d cut. A subject for further policy announcements apparently, or maybe it’s policy rhetoric on the hoof, because the basis for those figures is unclear, the number is a bit fluid, it could be just a ‘breather’ to give infrastructure time to ‘catch up’. It might just apply to Auckland. And how would we know when the infrastructure has ‘caught up’? If it’s like past government promises of investing in public transport infrastructure to a decent level when the roading network is finished, then it’s not something we will ever reach an end state for, it’s like a mirage, a nirvana, a convenient story we are told just to get through.

Immigrants have become a scapegoat and an excuse for not even considering broader political and economic causes of Auckland’s problems. Broader workplace controls and minimum wage settings, levelling the playing field in investment property tax incentives, discussions about population growth per se, are all too complex, too challenging, un-necessary, when you can just blame immigrants for everything, and hopefully, probably, gain votes from middle New Zealand at the same time.
New Zealand’s early oppressive immigrant settler and colonial narrative was one where the dominant Western culture was portrayed as the optimum, and only desirable one. Capitalism, Christianity and colonialism were enlightened forces of development. Even still, if you’re of white European descent, you’ve got more chance of being a ‘real kiwi’. But New Zealand, and Auckland in particular, is a far more diverse, multi-cultural, and richer society than they once were because of recent immigration based diversification. But that original, colonial immigrant, capitalist narrative is dominant still. It’s a victor’s rhetoric, “we’re here now, we’re the righteous (white) occupants of this land, and the legitimate regime. We’ve made this society in our image, and unless you look like us, act like us, and accept the cultural and economic rules we impose, we’ll marginalise you, your beliefs and your way of life.” “What’s more, we’ll blame you for society’s ills’.

Instead of standing of the side of the cultural and capitalist oppressor and adopting its discourse of exclusion and the antagonism of difference, thinking workers of New Zealand, and elsewhere, should show solidarity with other workers and stand for better standards of living and workplace rights. Don’t blame the victim when the system itself is the problem.


  1. This article very clearly portrays what could be called the “normative” position of the New Zealand Left on immigration.

    Despite being filled with lots of numbers and apparent statistics, it also reveals the fact that the “normative” position of the Left on immigration is not very well thought out. Instead, when you look between the sprinkling of numbers, you get emotive arguments, about “blaming” immigrants, or “manipulating fears” or other such rhetorical deflections.

    When we step back and ask ourselves, “what do we want?”, we realise we want a society where all workers are treated fairly. But when we look closer, we see that migrant workers in NZ are being shipped into our economy faster than they or the economy is able to adapt.

    I know this, because I work with migrant workers every day, helping them to establish themselves here before their visa’s run out and they are sent back home. When they are sent home, often their situation is worse than it was before they came; they are broke, with generational debts, and very few skills to show for it. They would have been better of not coming here at all. Is this what we want?

    I wonder whether people who advocate for more “immigration” in NZ actually care about migrants at all. The system we have now exploits migrants in a savage manner that I rarely hear discussed, except perhaps at Union meetings. That bothers me a great deal.

    Outcomes would be better for migrants and local workers if there was actually *less* migration, and better attention paid to helping those migrants who do come to integrate. But in the Left-wing circles I move in, there is precious little rationality, and a great deal of empty rhetoric.

    Much of the Left espouses “open borders”, which means effectively that anyone who comes here for any reason should be allowed to come, and it is never appropriate to set limits or restrictions on who may come or why.

    So, a million of the world’s poorest people want to come to New Zealand, increasing our population by 20%? No problem. The fact that there are no houses for them, or jobs for them, or that our infrastructure will not be able to cope… not an issue.

    You are not allowed to suggest that immigrants are taking the houses or jobs of locals, even though this is an obvious fact that even simple logic must confirm. Our population is rising dramatically, our housing stock is being depleted, unemployment is up and wages are down. Hint; it’s not because we are magically becoming more fertile.

    It doesn’t seem to occur to people who advocate for Open Borders that they are strangely in lock step with the Business Councils of almost every developed nation in the world. Its the Capitalists who want Open Borders more than anyone. It’s the Capitalists who want to create massive global trade deals which include mechanisms for importing unlimited quantities of foreign labour. Its the Capitalists who understand well that when you flood a labour market with people willing to work for far less than local workers can or will, the pay and condition of all workers must eventually be driven down to the same level as the 3rd world economies where the foreign workers originate from.

    I have long pondered how it is that so many on the Left got so muddled up on this issue, and the only conclusion I can come to is that most people on the Left don’t have any real understanding of economics, or international trade or commerce beyond a few talking points they pick up from the blogosphere. When real Workers complain about the impacts of immigration on their circumstance, they are denounced as “deplorables” or “bros” or “white supremacists”. Is this how we get the Workers of the World to Unite?

    The truth is, advocacy of Open Borders (as opposed to genuine Internationalism) is not Socialism, its Liberalism. The reality is, International Capitalism uses labour market liberalisation to smash Trade Unions and local economies everywhere in the developed world. Using the destructive forces of globalisation and de-industrialisation, their ultimate aim is to reduce the entire global labour market to the lowest common denominator, set by conditions in the poorest countries of the 3rd world. They have done, and continue to do this by moving millions of high-skill jobs out of developed countries to under-developed countries, and by moving millions of low-skilled workers in the opposite direction, into developed countries. This is done in conjunction with the simultaneous reduction of tarif barriers (another form of “Open Borders”) and the flooding of our markets with cheap commodities and cheap manufactured goods. The TPP would have taken this program to unimaginable heights of efficiency and effectiveness, from which we would never be able to recover.

    With only a few exceptions, like Jane Kelsey, and a one or two notables in the Labour Party, most of the NZ Left struggles to engage with any of these issues with any kind of nuance at all, descending reflexively into idiotic charges of “racism”, “xenophobia” or “fascism” whenever it is discussed. Which leaves the field completely vacant and ready for possession by both fascists and Capitalists, who’s real agenda of aggressive Capitalist exploitation and impoverishment of ALL workers everywhere goes unchallenged.

    If you can’t have a nuanced debate, or engage with even basic issues such as international labour market arbitrage (which is effectively what we are talking about) without collapsing into an apoplectic heap, then you are incapable and unqualified to run, regulate or even reform a modern technological economy. Which means that the Socialist Project is effectively doomed in New Zealand.

    And that makes me sad, because I personally want New Zealand to be a Socialist country, where existing workers rights are protected against predatory Capitalists. I also want a Socialist society where local workers are protected against the ill-conceived plans of Liberal activists who don’t really care what happens in the bigger picture, as long as they are able to create and maintain a loyal constituency for their particular brand of angst.

    To achieve the ultimate goal espoused in the Communist Manifesto, of a world where all workers *everywhere* are empowered to own the means of production and manage their own society, we *must* grapple with complex economic and political matters in a rational manner. We must respect the fact that before we can liberate the Workers of the World from poverty everywhere, we must first liberate them from poverty here, where we are now. And that means not playing into the hands of International Capitalism by allowing our economy to be beggared by labour market liberalisation schemes disguised as warmed-over Left-wing idealism.

    • Quote:

      “It doesn’t seem to occur to people who advocate for Open Borders that they are strangely in lock step with the Business Councils of almost every developed nation in the world. Its the Capitalists who want Open Borders more than anyone. It’s the Capitalists who want to create massive global trade deals which include mechanisms for importing unlimited quantities of foreign labour. Its the Capitalists who understand well that when you flood a labour market with people willing to work for far less than local workers can or will, the pay and condition of all workers must eventually be driven down to the same level as the 3rd world economies where the foreign workers originate from.”

      I must honestly agree on this, as that is what I observe on the ground right here in Auckland, the planned Megolopolis of tomorrow, where planes will circle to land, even once a second runway will be built and operational at Auckland International Airport.

      It is called the “growth” obsession, and all this talk by the vested business interests and their willing Council and Central Government facilitators, about larger markets, more opportunities, it fails to show us the other side of the balance sheet.

      Accounting shows us, there is always a PLUS and a MINUS. And when there is too much going one way, we are even out of kilter, and that is where we are heading very, very fast right now.

      I despair at times, when I hear and see how some well meaning people seem to lack the common sense, the rationale, to see, that resources are finite, and things take time to plan, build and implement. We had enough of all this overly positive BS talk during those hearings for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, the developers got it their way in the end, same as big business, they are all rubbing their hands, as they only see the huge dollar sign, outside the sacks of money they are about to make.

      Who wants to live in high rise, multi-storey slums of tomorrow, that may be built more cheaply and fast, by immigrant workers from where-ever, but that will have issues, like the leaky building one we already had, and that will be filled with people going on each others’ nerves.

      I have seem enough of this in other cities on this planet, good grief, do people really want to live in a “world city” of two and a half million by perhaps 2045???

      Or course Auckland is poorly built and planned, but nearly doubling the population will not solve issues, it will only make things worse and create yet more issues.

      People mostly come here to get away from such crap.

    • Put brilliantly, Not A Robot.
      The author only look a few sentences to bring out the “xenophobia” call, she also accuses trhe masses of moving to the far right on immigration, yet it is the far right which wants to import foreign labour to keep wages low – witness who cried the loudest when Trump turned the tap off- the multinationals.
      Also witness our own right wing government with the immigration taps on full to pump up asset prices and give orchardists, construction companies and dairy farm owners cheap labour because our own cant/wont take a wages or conditions that low.
      Shouldnt the wage then be allowed to rise to a level which is appropriate?
      The Nat government distorts the local wage market by doing so (down obviously) despite supposedly being in favour of a free market – only when it suits of course.
      The far left’s stance on this is paradoxical. they stand by the imported workers at the expense of local workers housing, infrastructure and wages.
      How about we use a union analogy: If kiwi workers went on strike because conditions were crap (as a current equivalent lets say our dairy farm workers wouldnt work for the wage offered) , would their union then get behind the import of thousands of filipino, russian, argentinian and brazilian workers from off site to ensure the “scab” labour was well looked after?
      Would they hell.
      So why are the unions backing the imported labour driving down kiwi wages? If the best answers you give resemble the OP, then clearly you dont know yourselves.
      Better for everyone to ensure cheap low skilled labour isnt brought here to be exploited in the first place.

    • I completely agree with “Not a Robot”. In addition,I believe we in N.Z have an absolute responsibility to the Maori to enable them to have an equitable share in the N.Z economy. We colonized them, and have not made a reasonable attempt to enable them to share the prosperity.Until that happy state is reached migration should be controlled to avoid Maori being further disadvantaged.I hardly need itemize all the areas where equity has not been reached.As a national priority steps need to be taken in education and employment training .Where will the money come from? Try the 20 billion dollars put aside for our Armed forces which will only be used for supporting the U.S. State Terrorist Fourth Reich!!

    • Hear hear, the best articulation of the reality of immigration I’ve heard in ages. Well done mr Robot!

      What seems to escape the left, which I am part of, is that while taking in refugees is a moral necessity, immigration is a choice and it’s been deliberately set at a high level for ages by the right wing, to drive down unions and wages, and prop up the National party due to rising middle class property prices.

      It’s a choice, and it’s time we exercised our choice to restrict unnecessary immigration to address the many issues affecting our economy and society now.

    • +1000 NOT A ROBOT

      I also despair of the left on this issue. With the left advocating the least popular solutions of more immigration and more taxes and normally welcoming free trade and surveillance too – of course they are not popular!!

      The are the right with more taxes! Doh!

      All around the world the left, seem to be advocating dumb policy. Are they completely out of touch!!

      Love your comments about how the left love to claim the low waged workers yet are completely out of touch how they feel as their jobs are taken away by cheaper labour.

      “When real Workers complain about the impacts of immigration on their circumstance, they are denounced as “deplorables” or “bros” or “white supremacists”. Is this how we get the Workers of the World to Unite?”

      Anyone who wants regulation on development is a NIMBY. The left seem as desperate as the right to turn our cities into soviet style slums – you can fit more people in – now the right are talking slum cruise ships for low paid slum workers to toil on NZ infrastructure (paid by local taxes of course) to fit more lower paid workers in.

      One of the biggest polluters is…cruise ships. We ban animals from live export but I guess workers are fine!

      Your points are excellent about how there are massive losers from migrants coming here, only to be left with massive debts! The honest migrants are the ones who can work the system to get through!

      As anyone can tell you – taxes don’t have to be paid in this country – nobody seems to notice at all and in fact John Key changed the laws to make it easier to hide all your money here. Who cares about local Meth victims? Just collateral damage in a world they can’t compete in!

      If the left bothered to have high criteria for immigration (with supervision to make sure obligations are met), and keep taxes the same. As well as get rid of trade deals that are about immigration of people not goods and services, with their own fake business courts outside of NZ government. Advocate peace around the world by not sending troops as bargaining chips – they would get the people to vote for them!

      It really is that easy.

      If Corbyn got rid of his idea of more taxes and said Britain should look after British citizens first, he would win.

      Look what’s happened in France. The right are winning because the left are out of touch with public feeling.

  2. I agree with your demand for socialism, but don’t you agree with the point of this post: What NZ Labour are currently offering is nothing close to socialism and more like a continuation of neoliberalism with tighter boarders.

    Good point that it’s not fair to assume calls for immigration restrictions are not always “racism”, “xenophobia” or “fascism”…but shouldn’t we also ensure that when a leftist argues that immigration restrictions are not the solution, we don’t assume they’re proposing open borders? The strawman works both ways. I’m also not sure where Christine is arguing for open borders.

    I don’t think we let in a lot of immigrants – if Labour want to reduce those numbers or increase them, then I’ll just shrug my shoulders. But when Labour refuse to redistribute wealth and instead they pander to the wealthy, then yeah, I’ve got a problem with that. And it makes Labour’s immigration based solutions look pathetic.

    Finally, I’m not sure why and how reducing immigration numbers will help ensure the Workers of the World to Unite. Isn’t standing up for workers and demanding their rights the solution here? That’s what Christine was arguing for. I don’t know how you can claim that reducing immigration numbers gets us closer to the communist revolution.

    • Thanks for your feedback. To your last point,

      “I’m not sure why and how reducing immigration numbers will help ensure the Workers of the World to Unite. Isn’t standing up for workers and demanding their rights the solution here? That’s what Christine was arguing for. I don’t know how you can claim that reducing immigration numbers gets us closer to the communist revolution.”

      My comment expressly advocates demanding better conditions for migrants by reducing immigration to levels below the current exploitative levels.

      A kind of “Poverty Cult” has developed on the Left over the last 100 years, and now it’s virtually synonymous with Socialism. Some believe that Workers will only engage politically when they are at near-starvation levels, and conditions are at their worst. This could not possibly be more wrong. In fact, the reverse is true; Workers need to rise up from poverty to something approaching middle class before they are able to seriously engage politically. The best proof we have of this is the contrast between the so called “apathetic” working poor and precariate of this generation, and the highly politicised Middle Class which rose up in the previous two generations.

      I take the view that where Socialism works at all, Workers are prosperous, and should be. Workers need resources, and relief from poverty to contend with Capitalism everywhere, and help Workers unite. Starving workers have little time for politics, and don’t the Elites know it! Capitalism seeks to keep us poor and resourceless, so that we can never challenge their hegemony.

      Reducing immigration improves the conditions of all workers, local and migrant, and enables prosperous workers to prosecute Socialism everywhere.

      • Don’t worry, the “trickle down theory” will fix immigration, housing and every other social issue, at least National will have you believe it.

      • Yeah, I agree with you – that if workers get better working conditions and better pay, then they will go on to demand better conditions and better pay. I also don’t subscribe to the idea that greater suffering and exploitation leads to more likelihood of a revolution.

        But it is for that reason that I think we should be promoting worker’s rights and collective class consciousness, rather than seeking to get gains by reducing immigration numbers. The former will unite workers far more than the latter. In fact, the latter often creates divisions between workers.

  3. The fault lies with the system, not the migrants, but the system – brain dead far-right ideologues like Bill English and lying scofflaws like Steven Joyce – will not listen to reason or statistics or anything short of a sharp blade held to their deeply unattractive throats.

    In this environment migrants are not welcome, and pretending that they are does them no service. NZ is oversubscribed and intending migrants need to be warned before they part out with money to migration agents, flaky 3rd tier ‘education’ providers, or agricultural cheap labour gang bosses.

  4. @Christine – couldn’t have put it better – despite trying in various comments sections here and on TS. The most recent being in response to Mike Treen’s recent post here:
    ….and @NOT A ROBOT: Is there a way to get in touch?, ditto @Christine.
    And for those ready to blame all those “bloody immigrants coming here taking all our jobs”…. maybe take the time to go to and read some hard gained research, and evidence based facts (not of the alternative kind).
    As I tried to point out to other comenters here – probably rightly worried about their own position, consider the structural conditions that have existed for over a decade. Imagine yourselves having to pay (often substantial amounts – and I mean 2 weeks plus wages) to change your employer if he or she turns out to be an arshole. Imagine having yourselves threatened sometimes if you attempt to do so.

    Like IM NOT A ROBOT, I too know of (and deal with) many immigrants and international students. Many – probably most would agree that immigration numbers need to be reduced.
    There are more sophisticated and fair ways of going about it.
    The evidence of scams, rorts, ripoffs, BASED ON THE STRUCTURE OF PAST AND PRESENT POLICY is actually there for all to see.
    And the proposals by Woodhouse to be implemented in August do nothing to address the issues. Indeed they are designed to protect it. They’re designed to PROTECT the charlatans in the private tertiary education sector, arsehole employers in various other sectors. They are designed to tip one batch out so that another can come in to be exploited alongside their Kiwi counterparts and to keep the ticket clippers, launderers of black money seeking legitimacy, and others (including some in the legal ‘fraternity’, cafes, liquor shops, labour supply companies, in fisheries,horticulture, edgikayshun, construction, aged care, etc. etc. etc) keeping calm and carrying on as usual.

  5. So if it is not about the numbers of immigrants crossing our border, just let them flood in. But please, do not for one instance talk about infrastructure and poor governance of our country.

  6. 1. What about the migrant employers exploiting other migrants? The list in this case is very long indeed (it is hardly nuanced to paint all migrants as ‘victims’, when this is clearly not the case).

    2. While simplistic, do you believe that if the 50% of Aucklanders born overseas tomorrow disappeared, there wouldn’t be a property crash? Please.

    • I think we all agree, it’s not the immigrants fault, it is the fault of a ridiculous government who believes that bursting our infrastructure is a good thing.

      • I wish that were true @ Bert. Unfortunately not – even amongst people posting here based on the anecdote(s) of one or two people.

    • “What about the migrant employers exploiting other migrants? The list in this case is very long indeed”
      I agree and the list is very long, probably even longer than you know (Even in yesterday’s media).

      And there goes part of the problem. Until recently (i.e. until it began to get embarrassing for the likes of the utterly under-resourced Labour Inspectorate, or NZQA, and others), not a great deal happened. Thankfully they’re now starting to take things a little more seriously – but they’ve had to be dragged kicking and screaming.
      However, even now those migrant employers exploiting migrants don’t suffer too much hardship, whilst their victims do.
      These exploiters are the likes of those charging $25-30K for PR by means that are often very difficult to prove. They’re fast food franchise holders who keep two sets of books, demanding ‘cash backs’ and excessive accommodation fees; they’re immigration consultants who’ve negotiated cosy little deals with tertiary education providers (even if the institution itself may not know); there are some in the legal profession who have what would once have been considered conflicts of interest – such as having a financial interest in the recruitment and supply of labour; they’re the contractors in various sectors who have contracts in farming and horticulture.

      Such is the structure, and it is this structure that the recent immigration announcements do nothing to address. Indeed, given the “South Island 600 or so special cases”, you have to wonder whether the announcements aren’t just as Winnie and others suggest, and a last ditch desperate attempt to preserve the whole frikken scam.
      (I’m not sure what the difference is with the 600 or so, and elsewhere in horticulture, OR aged-care, OR trcking, OR ……..)

      If we were to (i.e. the gubbamint) reduce numbers from here on, as well as rescind the PR status of those migrant employers RATHER THAN punish their victims, we might actually begin to address the problems.
      The easy option, and one that buys into that whole narrative of the bloody immigrant coming here taking all our jobs is to tip the victims out as quick as possible before they can moan, and let the whole sorry shit start all over again. It’s cheaper too (short term) because the Labour Inspectorate doesn’t have to investigate, INZ have to do fuck all, it’s “win win”. Nobody needs to hear about the bullshit, the various promises made, the excessive fees, the conflicts of interest, the cosy little relationships that have built up between public servants and consultants and tertiary providers and labour suppliers and recruitment agents …… it’s all just spiffing bro

  7. “At present in New Zealand we have a rush to the right to see which political party can distinguish itself from the others by blaming immigration and immigrants the most. And strange quarters, like the Labour Party, are coming up ‘Trumps’.”

    I am sorry, Christine, this post is naive to the extreme.

    Parties and persons that realise that there are limits to what a country can take in as numbers of immigrants per year, such as Labour now also seems to do, are not “xenophobic” and “blaming immigrants” for what is going wrong.

    We have for a few years now had a laissez faire kind of neoliberal government that has allowed high net immigration into the country, not only for the purpose of adding ‘skills’ and ‘investment’ into the place, and allowing family reunion and a humble increase of refugees, the National led government has been drugging its economic performance by boosting it, through simply increasing the population and inviting high numbers of foreign students.

    I think we can agree that we leave the many new tourists out of this equation, as that is another matter altogether.

    I have had first hand contact with a fair few overseas students and also new immigrants who came her to work and live. I am originally of an immigrant background myself.

    People come here for various reasons, and most, if not almost all, are keen to somehow contribute through their work and whatsoever when deciding to settle here. At the same time there are many with high expectations, and also many, who are actually simply very desperate, they will do almost anything, to somehow get permanent residency.

    I know of foreign students who work more than the 20 hours they are allowed to work per week, and who manage to find employers who facilitate it somehow, although it is actually illegal. I have known many new immigrants, who are highly motivated, willing to make many sacrifices, to get any job, in a field they want to work in, or in even less and low skilled jobs, simply to get a foot in the door.

    There are a fair few also who work illegally, or cut corners, and put up with exploitation.

    One major problem is, they are all lone fighters, they already come from very competitive places, they know cut throat business environments and all that stuff. They do NOT join unions, only very few do, as they know, most employers are NOT KEEN to have any workers that are union members or want to join a union.

    I am in regular contact with one new prospective migrant from a country where the shit has hit the fan so to say, he has spent over 11,000 on a second rate business study course with a private institute, that promised him all kinds of “opportunities” here. Now with the government having just raised the bar again, he realises he has a very dim chance to get a job with more than 49,000 dollars income per annum, and will also not be able to get his wife and two kids come here, which he was also planning, as it will be made harder to do so.

    He is on the brink of losing it all, and he will do anything to get any job, and agree to any kinds of terms an employer will lay down, as he is desperate.

    This planet is full of hundreds of millions of people like him, and they would ALL love to come here.

    Truth is, Auckland is already costing so much to rent in, I am myself facing the prospect of further rent rises, which I cannot keep up with, so may have to move into some garage or boarding house or whatever not too far away, if that happens.

    Here you come and tell us to not “blame” the immigrants, who through their circumstances are between a rock and a hard place, and will continue coming here, unless some controls are put in place, and drive house prices, rents even higher, same as prices now, while wages are kept low, and benefits are not increased AT ALL, except for those that have kids and got a minute one a year or so ago.

    With all sympathy I have for immigrants, and their circumstances, we simply cannot continue as it is, and building the housing and infrastructure will cost billions. Where is it going to come from, I ask, do we want to borrow billions from the Australian or Chinese banks, and pay them back for generations?

    New Zealand is reaching five million population, Auckland soon 2 million. The present population, same as on this whole planet, is largely ONLY sustainable by continuing to burn FOSSIL FUELS. All alternatives are not yet competitive and feasible enough, to fully replace fossil fuels, and likely never will. I am against use of nuclear power, so what is left, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biofuel, the latter competing with land and sea for food production.

    This planet and also New Zealand are FINITE places, with FINITE resources, and considering that we can only for the longer term future sustain a certain limited population, I am against growing the population for economic reasons, as we will destroy this place.

    I do not want to live in an city called Auckland that has more than 2 million population, it will become a slum rich megalopolis like many other places. Reconsider your overly idealistic views, to serve all those who wish to come and compete for jobs and resources, as the boat will sink, if it takes aboard too many.

    We can take in a few more refugees, but immigration over all, like population growth here, must be kept under some firm limits now.

    • “Parties and persons that realise that there are limits to what a country can take in as numbers of immigrants per year, such as Labour now also seems to do, are not “xenophobic” and “blaming immigrants” for what is going wrong.”

      I thought Christine’s comment was shallow, in fact the comment on Labour was “xenophobic”, considering Labour are looking for an alternative solution whilst National continue to fill the immigration balloon up til it bursts.

  8. By the way “immigration” is not always as clear cut, when it comes to numbers, types of migrants and how administrations in different countries consider and count persons as such. And yes, there are fluctuations and special events, such as the Syrian refugee crisis, that create temporary and unusual trends. Here is some interesting info to look at:

    Not every ‘migrant’ is the same when looking at country by country, some have so called “guest workers”, that is temporary migrants, some have undocumented and thus ‘illegal’ migrants, some have refugees that they may in some cases accept as such, in other places not even want to do, but simply “tolerate” in camps.

    Legal immigrants, which are the vast bulk of immigrants to New Zealand, are comparatively low in some countries that show high ‘migrant’ rates, and the Gulf States have high numbers of “guest workers” from Southern Asia and so forth.

    In NZ we like to adopt, accept and integrate, and treat immigrants as new permanent residents and citizens, so we have with about 24 to 25 percent of the population not born here already a much higher per capita rate of immigrants as the UK and US, where many complain about high immigration there. We even have a higher per capita rate of immigrants than Canada, and higher than most if not all of Europe, when it comes to accepted migrants (persons resident, but not born here).

    Add the high number of temporary work visa holders, many also only coming here to try and get residency, and add the many students, many of whom only come because of the prospect of staying, and we are one of the countries with the factually highest immigration per population in at least the more developed world.

    The government has abused immigration, talks about most being “returned Kiwis”, but that is not the whole true story. Net gain is what matters, and as we are now stretching capacity to develop infrastructure and house people in decent, affordable homes, and offer incomes to live off, we need to slow immigration for at least a few years, so on that, Andrew Little and Labour get my full support (for a change).

    • It’s an interesting dilemma @MtL just thinking about your comment (that I don’t disagree with):
      “Add the high number of temporary work visa holders, many also only coming here to try and get residency…..etc”, and then
      ” …….. talks about most being “returned Kiwis”, etc.

      On the one hand, the many coming here to get permanent residency (often through fraudulent means and a structure this government has fostered, and one that protects the fraudulent and penalises the victims and the various various casualties of the system),
      ….. and then on the other, all those ‘returning NuZullners’ : whether they’re the ones returning “home” because the shit is started hitting the fan overseas and the going was getting a bit tuff, or whether they want to ‘settle down and have a family’ in what they see as a comparably safe environment, or whether it’s just that time is up and they’re getting a little bored with the OE experience (what a luxury).

      What pisses me off in all of this is our attempts to abrogate responsibility for those we’ve ripped, ticket clipped, and generally royally fleeced (through a system and structure that is OURS by design), and now we simply want to hit a Clintonesque type RESET button. (that worked out well eh?)
      And then, if you were to take a nationalistic? view of things, you’d have to question how many of those Nu Zullners returning home that the gubbamint likes to use in disguise of their truly fucked agenda (money and growth at any cost), what was their commitment to Aotearoa NZ in their pursuit of the main chance. Probably not too dissimilar to all those bloody immigrants coming here seeking PR and taking all our jobs.

      On one hand, we profess concern and empathy (actually it’s probably just sympathy) for the likes of two brothers in the Somali/Sudan area, who witnessed their mother and sisters killed, and who lived on snakes and monkeys whilst getting to a UN refugee camp – one now in NZ, the other in Italy, and never shall we allow them to get back together despite the trauma.

      And then on the other hand, we feel no responsibility for the system we’ve designed that means some of our international students and temporary workforce are destined for a life of shame and servitude – all that’s aside from the prospect of the land parents will have to sell in order to pay back the debt incurred to send their offspring to some shitty business management course that has been promoted BY NZers (whether PR holders or ekshull citizens.

      Double standards much?

      • @Mike in Auckland – my response was intended for that other Mike (the LEFTY).
        Your analysis gels pretty much with my own experiences, and I feel sure is based on the knowledge and experiences of quite a few – not just that of an occasional flatmate.

        • I agree with your double standards that some Kiwi returnees (from Australia) may have. They ran away from here, lamenting over Maoris, “socialist government” and so forth, when Labour were in power until 2008, after Key turned this into a rich man’s and selfish man’s and woman’s paradise, they have come back to buy up on the property market.

          No wonder the Nats still do well in the polls, they get a double whammy of undeserved support, from those returned redneck and other selfish Kiwis that left to make dollars in Australia, and also those new opportunity seeking migrants, who will vote Nats to “thank” them for letting them in.

          That is quite a problem, I admit, the mobility of selfish citizens from various countries, moving around to always seek the best opportunities for their professional skill set and investments.

      • Christ – I’m losing it. From now on, I promise not to run two browsers with one running TDB, and the other TS.
        It’s a hard row to hoe though, especially if one is trying to keep track of the bullshit and jellybeans and the eyesight and hearing is failing.

  9. Working people know that immigration is used to keep wages low, housing prices high, and to avoid the costs of training staff. All of us know of jobs that young Kiwis’ could have been trained to do, filled by immigrants. To the detriment of New Zealanders. Treasury figures show that immigrants contribute much less, than the right wing claims. While being a drain on our infrastructure.
    The “growth” is a misnomer. Per capita growth is negative. Constant growth, is not sustainable in a finite world, anyway.
    It is not immigrants fault that our Government allows in way to many. More per capita than the UK. But enough is enough. We already suffer from the cultural takeover of our industrial relations, by the UK style of management, and class barriers, after excessive immigration from the UK in the 50’s.

    Time employers were told that bleating to the immigration department, as they have been doing as long as I can remember, is not a substitute for paying for training, paying adequate wages and treating their employees well.

  10. Great reading this article. A breath of fresh air to see that not all writers and readers of The Daily Blog are closet rednecks- although most of the comments seem to come from that quarter.It certainly is one reason for me to pull away from this site and also from supporting Labour or the Green’s. What stands out for me is that National, by far has a more open, less defensive stance towards communication with difference than other parties and seems able to do this communication- a sign of maturity. Perhaps the first time I’ll vote for National, although any party that says it could form an alliance with NZ First is a bit dubious-What would I have to do, salute a flag and dumb down my intelligence and perhaps commit crimes just to fit in. I like to think of what immigrants are offering us and it is an encounter with difference -in beliefs, attitudes, work ethic, etc. It helps to open up the place to the world –like it or not, and to move away from a narcissistic, paranoid, fearful unattractive way of being which many of the commentators seem to be living in-New Zealand for New Zealanders, whatever this means. For that reason, I say bring on more migrants, otherwise, we risk stagnating in our narcissistic revelry and intrigue with ourselves, fearing the other and so risk becoming more ugly.

    • Never noticed you commenting here, nor any contribution in any other way, so I presume a Nat ACT supporter directed you here to utter your criticism. Every one is entitled to his/her view, so yours is just one view, one of a few more that may not agree with you on laissez faire immigration.

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