Mike Hosking: Our international border closure risks NZ being left behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 10:26AM
(Photo / 123RF)
(Photo / 123RF)

Mike Hosking: Our international border closure risks NZ being left behind

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 10:26AM

Do you think our government has thought about immigration lately? Do you think they have a plan to get international students back? And if they do, when? 

What about the chronic labour shortages? Do you think there is a plan that could be unleashed tomorrow to ramp returns up when the border opens? By the way, when do you think the border is opening? 

Australia has announced 200,000 visas. Australia also has its border open. So a quick question, for starters, would be how is it that Australia can open its borders and we can't? How is it they're inviting hundreds of thousands into the country to fire up the economy and we haven't? 

Fear will cripple our economy. International education here was worth $5 billion a year. We've all seen the damage to various industries as people who once arrived to do the work haven't, and so the work hasn’t been done. 

There is the ideological battle between business and government over labour and its shortage. 

The theory, and this is the stuff you pick up when you spend half your life in university, but the theory is that if you pay more, locals who didn’t want to do the work previously would suddenly do it. 

That’s not true and the people who grow the apples, pears, and stone-fruit found that out last season. 

By the time you boost the minimum wage, boost the benefits through debt, and then expect employers to boost it even further through wages that aren't supported by the productivity and output required, you find yourself in real trouble. 

That's before you get to the fact you’ve got full employment due to the fact you’ve shrunk the economy to the point where the only people out of work can't, or don’t want to, do the work. 

I used to get a hard time when I talked of the New South Wales approach to Covid. And yet weeks in, its back open, restrictions gone, health system intact, economy being pumped as shoppers go nuts. There's not so many critics now. 

For Victoria and New South Wales, at least the planes arriving will soon be full of students and workers, and we are still working out how the traffic lights work.