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Mike's Minute: Our immigration reset needs to happen now

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Feb 2024, 10:25AM

Mike's Minute: Our immigration reset needs to happen now

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Feb 2024, 10:25AM

The good news from the new immigration minister is that a reset on numbers is coming. 

I think the major issue is not that too many people are coming, it's that too many of the wrong people are coming. 

You need to ask yourself why. 

If every genius, billionaire, and entrepreneur was beating a path to our door, the 120,000 odd we are growing by would not be an issue. 

But the fact that most of them are out of India, the Philippines, and China indicates there is some sort of escapism going on. 

People coming here to work in hospitality says a couple of things about us. 

The first is that it’s a crime we have to import people to do hospitality. But the 13-year average for Jobseeker is your reason why. We are ankle, if not knee, deep in laziness and a lifelong form of bludging. 

The second is the fact these people arrive looking to work in hospitality is not a good sign they're just waiting for the next opening at Rocket Lab. 

So, when we reset stuff, and I assume that will come with some sort of bomb put under the Immigration Department who literally everyone in the industry tells me are a major issue in themselves with their processing, or lack of it, but when we reset, we might actually find ourselves in trouble. 

My suspicion is it will look a lot like tourism, where saying we are open and having people actually turn up are two different things. 

Tourism is at 79% of what it was and what it was is now five years ago and counting. 

What if we tighten up the immigration criteria and tell the world we are after the best and the brightest? Small clue - like every other country. 

What if our reputation, because of Covid, precedes us? 

What if the world looked on aghast at our maniacal closed border approach and thought that is not a country, I want anything to do with? 

What if they went elsewhere where the processing was easy, the welcome was big and the salaries were bigger, and we miss out? 

I hope I am wrong. But increasingly, the Covid damage continues to be exposed, whether its lack of holidaymakers or merely a flood of under-skilled waiters looking to escape their homeland. 

In the meantime, the bright and the young Kiwi takes off. Good ones leaving with ordinary ones arriving is no formula for first world success. 

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