Dog-whistling on immigration ignores the real issues

Immigration is once again in the news, with NZ First leader Winston Peters engaging in some furious dog-whistling to gain attention.

I fear that his antics give the small, but vocal, portion of New Zealanders who hold racist beliefs an avenue for expressing their destructive opinions.   At the very least it makes newcomers feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

New Zealand is an increasingly multicultural country.  Those of us who do not whakapapa Maori have a migrant somewhere in our background – even if it was four or five generations ago. Migrants enhance our country economically and our multicultural communities provide us all with a greater understanding of our world and our place in it.

The current high levels of immigration quoted by NZ First are misleading.  For a start, the figures include higher numbers of returning New Zealanders, as well as students on study visas and young travelers from South American countries on their big OE (the same scheme NZ has with the UK). It also includes those applying to live here under the skilled migrant category. We need their talents if we are to be innovative and diversify our economy.

There are also a number of migrants who enter under the ‘investor’ category.  Those who are wealthy who are supposed to create jobs, but there isn’t a lot of information about how effective this system is. We believe that this sector needs to be monitored closely to make sure it achieves its stated goals of job creation and entrepreneurship.

The Greens believe that we have to ensure that our environment and our infrastructure can cope with our population. The best way to do this is to have a robust and transparent monitoring of immigration numbers, and a political commitment to honest conversations about how to manage the balance.

We are fundamentally opposed to NZ First blaming new migrants for the housing crisis in Auckland and the congested roads there.   The real culprit is the government’s lack of action in implementing an effective capital gains tax and restrictions on the sale of properties to non-residents.

Outside of Auckland our regions need talented people to help build the economy, and we could be doing more to incentivise new migrants to settle there.  The government could certainly help by providing real regional economic development strategies and making sure all people in the regions can access our public services.

We believe new New Zealanders need help to settle here.  The migrant levy that is collected for this purpose has been under-spent over the last few years, while not-for-profit migrant support services have endured funding cuts or freezes.

We could also crack down on dodgy employers taking advantage of vulnerable migrants by investing in labour inspectors to educate employers and monitor employment standards.

About Denise Roche 161 Articles

Green Party MP

8 Comments Posted

  1. Comments for Denise are on track, “…lack of action in implementing an effective capital gains tax and restrictions on the sale of properties to non-residents.” But this is more historical than current.

    Oldlux is insightful with the link to reminding us how tragically late taht style of intervention would now be.

    Missing from the immigration debate; truth on the financial war that’s driving of the refugee flow.

    Progressive seeds also planted by words from oldlux,”…loss on foreclosures.” A political mine-field, but this demands exploration. Good luck!

  2. While I agree with what you say Denise, with regards to the need for a capital gains tax and rules for foreign investors and the lack of meaningful action to correct this by the National Government, my gut feeling is that we are being colonised by foreigners in a similar way to that which Maori encountered when Europeans first arrived in Aotearoa. I am happy to have refugees coming into the country. I am concerned however that in other respects, our land is moving into foreign ownership and being controlled by foreigners with more money than ourselves. Our culture is being undermined in that not only can New Zealanders no longer afford to own their own homes, many are actually homeless, due to a lack of rental housing. What will that do to our cities and the social statistics of who lives and works there? How does that change our society? We can see many Asians in the streets but apparently Canadians and other nationalities are participating in this gross wholesale buying up of New Zealand property. It should make us feel worried and it is not anything to do with being PC. All Kiwis are going to learn what Maori were forced to learn – you are nothing without your land. Landlessness brings poverty, powerlessness and lack of a place to stand. Skilled migrants may have their place but I agree with Winston – they should be well vetted to prove their case. We do not have to roll out the welcome mat willy-nilly. It is stupid and shortsighted to do so. Neither should we revel in our multicultural status and pat ourselves on the back for it when our country can’t even live up to its bicultural responsibilities. We can self-destruct in being PC and welcoming. I prefer Winston’s approach. It seems more real.

  3. Probably need to clarify what i said. Arnt unhappy about refugees. Lucky them!!! Dont think 750 refugees a year is to hard for NZ but once again—NO COSTING? NZers returning from Aus. This is a lot of people NZ Aussies. MANY have worked hard,paid tax,bought houses etc in Aus. Are they returning home to get the NZ pension? How many have lived in Aus for their working life to now be FED into the NZ taxpayer? ONCE again NO INFORMATION. What taxpayer benifits are Immigrants getting here? Why are we paying and not their own countries where they HAVE paid tax. ie England? WHY do i SMELL a RAT???

  4. Hidden amongst Greg’s enormous collection of capital letters, punctuation, and lack of paragraph breaks lurks a really important question, it being:

    So HOW COME NZ did SO WELL when we only had 2 million people???

    In the early 1950s, New Zealand had a a population of about 2m, and had a really great standard of living, with us having the 3rd highest income per capita in the entire OECD. Since then it has fallen pretty much year on year, with a few odd bumps here and there, descending the OECD average by 1984, and continuing to fall thereafter. [New Zealand’s place on the OECD ladder (Treasury)] We are lower in the list than than every country we like to routinely compare ourselves with. [Current list of countries ordered by GDP per capita, Wikipedia]

    What happened to cause this decline? The short version is the world changed, and New Zealand didn’t.

    We still haven’t.

  5. Greg, I think you are confusing or conflating immigrants with refugees unless you are really saying that Australians, people from the UK, USA etc are coming here and being accepted because “their own countries are basically already wrecked”. There are lots of people who are counted when the immigration numbers are compiled, the non-NZ born partners and children of New Zealanders returning from overseas with them are a reasonable proportion, supposedly more than the 15,000 per annum that Winston is suggesting as a limit.

    I totally agree that trying to boost the economy through high immigration is a short sighted recipe for (more) trouble down the road but the discussion needs to be based on a clear understanding around who these immigrants are. Refugees are an entirely different subject.

  6. HARD to IMAGINE that IMMIGRATION has solved ANY IMPORTANT issues FACING NZ! So HOW COME NZ did SO WELL when we only had 2 million people??? Well WAS DOING WELL untill we were FLEECED by Australian banks through OUTRAGEOUS MORT–GAGE interest fees. Then of course we had BILLIONS flogged by our ALLY??? America. SORRY they WONT be PAYING that back!!! Immigrants WONT be voting GREEN because they GLORIFY CAPITALISM! SHIPPING in the voters Johny??? They have created many problems of HOMELESSNESS– TRAFFIC CONGESTION–MENTAL ISSUES–POLLUTION– SLAVERY–THATS a lot of WORK for UNDERFUNDED SOCIAL SERVICES.!!! But HEY–GUESS WHO,S GUNNA PAY!!! NOTICE the LACK of ANY information about these people. There character–WHAT they believe in–How many are on BENEFITS– How many NZers do they ACTUALLY employ–A costing for MENTAL HEALTH issues–THEIR OWN countries are basically ALREADY WRECKED so is it BUSINESS as USUAL here??? WHY is there NO INFORMATION??? Because that makes for a EASY POLITICAL LIE!!!

  7. A timely article about what the key issues are, but defining the problem if we ignore it.
    I am interested in the comments about the flow on to provincial NZ as we are noticing it in all the Waikato townships, and also counterproductive to regional growth policies. The growth gets sucked into asset value.

    On the comments about improving the Banks performance I think a move away from using depositors funds to protect banks need to be replaced with a greater definition of the fair share of the loss on foreclosures to include them.

  8. While I genuinely agree with the comments about racist catalysts I feel it is more about other people interpreting Winstone than his process. I had a bit of a look at online data I could find and tend to agree with his figures on reducing immigration to bring things back to a manageable state, along with getting some serious leadership about infrastructure needs from a community perspective. None of this labels any racial group, and with the observations from Auckland that more unskilled are being let in then we need to be listening to all views. Unskilled people need to be seriously filled by refugees, but it all begs the question of who pays for infrastructure and who benefits when inequality is so seriously favoured.
    I am an old Green activist from Values days and was involved with formulating early economic thinking around Green transformation, and I feel what Winstone is really saying isn’t too far away, and he has the nouse to see what we are saying as well.

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