Mike Hosking: Government's move to limit immigration a mistake

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Mar 2021, 5:00PM
Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike Hosking: Government's move to limit immigration a mistake

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Mar 2021, 5:00PM

The problem with no numbers is you don’t know what you’re dealing with, especially when it comes to immigration.

Maybe it was deliberate on Kris Faafoi’s part: set the tone, avoid the numbers

He has said when the borders open - wouldn’t that be a dream come true - immigration is not going back to what it was.

This mainly is a mistake.

Not completely. Some immigration was a shade ropey, there were a few visas about the place where you wondered how much of it was legit for genuinely skilled migrants offering us much needed talent vs what it looked like dog-cheap labour.

But here is what we have learned because of Covid, and this is why I am so surprised that Faafoi hasn’t seen it.

There are a couple of sorts of immigration: seriously skilled, genuinely skilled, and grafters.

The skilled side of it has held us back. The specialist machine operators we can’t get and yet are crying out for, which has led to the absurd battle between projects and a bidding war for talent.

The skills brought in for things like film work and its connection to much needed foreign capital and income.

The construction sector that is constrained because of lack of labour and no amount of the government claiming apprentices will fill the gap will fix it

And then there is the fieldwork: the fruit the veggies, the stuff that rightly or wrongly not enough new Zealanders will front up and tackle.

Not to mention the value of the money earned by RSE workers and sent back to pacific island families.

There was a reason so many arrived pre Covid. One, it’s a great place to live, two, we are genuinely short of skills, and three, there is work we can’t be bothered doing.

We haven’t got to the education sector either, a multibillion-dollar industry hammered but when open attached to some study and work visas.

The fear here is the combination of ideological blindness from the government, despite all the evidence they still think locals can cover all gaps, and xenophobia. Sadly, there are New Zealanders who like borders closed and those nasty foreigners locked out: they blame migrants for every social and economic ill.

So, let’s see the actual numbers, but Faafoi’s world view is too small, too introspective, ironically too Donald Trump.

It is the last thing this country needs when we come out the other side of this mess and look to gear up, grow, and get on with it - or have we changed our mind on that as well?