Cutting immigration – NZ First

Today on current affairs programme ‘The Nation’ Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First (NZF) political party confirmed:

“We’ll cut immigration to people we need in our economy, not who need us.”

He went on to state:

“Half the people coming and more are not here to make any contribution until 21 years or more or never to make a contribution. That’s bad economics.”

So here we have another political party going into the 2014 election trumpeting that immigration is economically bad for New Zealand and needs to be cut.

New Zealand First policy
To find what Mr Peters meant I checked the NZF website and found recent confirmation that he intends to block migrants who are not in the skilled category.

As I confirmed in May on average just under 40,000 people come to live in New Zealand permanently every year. These are made up of four main streams – using 2012/13 figures roughly these are:

  1. 51% – skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors
  2. 29% – the foreign-born children and partners of New Zealand citizens and residents
  3. 11% – the parents and family of migrants
  4. 8% – humanitarian and pacific quotas

This policy then appears to plan to cut groups 2, 3 and 4 including parents of migrants, the foreign-born partners and children of New Zealanders and NZ’s humanitarian work.

The NZF immigration policy is basically a list of current immigration policy (for example the parent category is called the ‘capped family stream’ because it is capped with a quota already) with additional measures to:

  • protect migrants against exploitation;
  • push skilled workers into regions and out of Auckland;
  • remove the ability for some migrants (not skilled workers) to purchase pre-paid English lessons to meet requirements.

Forcing skilled workers needed by employers to live in remote areas where there are no jobs is an interesting idea that I don’t think will catch on – yes you can work remotely as an IT professional but it is a bit harder for engineers etc. The others points listed are tiny tweaks with the vast majority of what NZF stands for already being current immigration policy.

Cutting immigration
Mr Peters has spoken out previously against the parents of migrants in the “Capped family stream”. These (not including other family) make up 9.5% of residence numbers with Chinese parents (the group Mr Peters is most concerned about) being (last year) 43.8% of this. Parents of people born in China make up just over 4% of residents.

The “Uncapped family stream” Mr Peters appears to have most problem with (29% of residence visas) are the foreign-born partners and children of New Zealanders. I am not sure blocking this group from coming to NZ is something which would be supported by most Kiwis.

Government has been working to bring skilled New Zealanders working overseas home but forcing them to leave their partners and children behind may make many think twice about heading back to Aotearoa.

Economic benefit
Mr Peter’s comments also ignore government research from the 2006 census which confirmed in 2008:

“…overseas-born migrants contributed $8.1 billion to the economy in 2006, while using $4.81 billion in benefits and services. In comparison, New Zealand-born citizens contributed $24.76 billion and used $21.92 billion in benefits and services.

The net impact for having an immigrant here is $3.29 billion, or $3547 per capita, while the net per capita contribution of a New Zealand-born is just $915,..”

This related to all migrants, not just skilled workers. Healthy and law-abiding migrants trained overseas are economically beneficial to New Zealand, but often because they are supported by their partners. Their children are also needed as future workers to support an aging population if the concepts of “retirement” and “pension”  are to continue in this country.

Summary
I’m not sure New Zealand First’s policy will win the hearts and minds of New Zealanders by blocking their husbands, wives and children from entering the country – they might want to think this through.


 

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate | Licensed Immigration Adviser

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