David Hargreaves says the country is in urgent need of a clear approach to its migration policy

By David Hargreaves

The Labour Party has swiftly moved in the past year from a policy of tackling migration head-on to what looks suspiciously like a wait-and-see policy.

The proposed changes around student visas and attached work rights announced during the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend very much fit in with the wait-and-see idea. 

On the one hand the new measures are to be welcomed in the focus on trying to quell exploitation of new migrants by, particularly, unscrupulous employers.

But on the other hand the giving of a free-pass now to people taking degree-level courses could in time actually increase the number of people coming in with student visas.

The fact that Labour has been able to take its new wait-and-see and say-little policy on migration is due to the fact that the overall figures are now dropping.

However, there's a heck of a lot of moving parts within the figures as produced by Statistics New Zealand and it is worth drilling into them in an attempt to work out just what is happening. 

I've tried to make it easy for you by compiling some (I think) relevant tables. I've only gone back as far as 2012 in an attempt to not baffle with too much information. Roughly speaking, 2012 captures the low point of the previous migration cycle moving into the uptick that became the raging tsunami of immigration we've seen.

The latest available annual figures are for the year to the end of March, so, those are presented here:

Net migration (arrivals minus departures) (Ann to Mar)

  NZ citizens Non-NZ citizens TOTAL ALL
2012 -39,123 35,740 -3,383
2013 -35,447 37,989 2,542
2014 -16,029 47,943 31,914
2015 -6,409 62,684 56,275
2016 -3,569 71,188 67,619
2017 -1,341 73,273 71,932
2018 -1,081 69,065 67,984

We can see that the overall net immigration figures are now declining. The peak annual migration number was 72,400 recorded in July last year, so, we've been quite swiftly working our way down, although obviously these numbers are still historically way up there.

So, that table is the 'big picture'. 

Then we move to the latest available monthly figures, which are to April. To compare apples with apples I've compiled tables just made up of the April month figures going back to 2012.

So, the next table is a bit more busy, but bear with it, because the information is rewarding. 

Permanent & long-term Net migration April month

  NZ citizens Non-NZ citizens TOTAL ALL 
  Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted
Apr 2012 -4,005 -3,380 1,743 2,520 -2,262 -910
Apr 2013 -2,805 -2,150 2,777 3,790 -28 1,610
Apr 2014 -1,073 -410 3,497 4,680 2,424 4,260
Apr 2015 -969 -270 3,931 5,320 2,962 5,040
Apr 2016 -960 -210 4,413 6,020 3,453 5,800
Apr 2017 -1,025 -250 4,431 6,180 3,406 5,930
Apr 2018 -1,053 -240 3,513 5,140 2,460 4,930

What we have there is the 'net' figures (that's arrivals minus departures) for both NZ citizens and non-NZ citizens. And then there's the total of both. Also included is Stats NZ's 'seasonally-adjusted' computation. This attempts to 'smooth' the figures and take out the normal seasonal variations (which are considerable simply because of the seasons - or weather if you like).

The seasonally-adjusted figures are good for showing the 'trend'. 

At one point going back over a year now we were averaging around a 6,000 net gain in migrants every month - which ended up with us recording annual gains of 72,000+.

As can be seen from the very bottom right figure in the above table the seasonally adjusted figure is now dipping below 5,000, which tells you that our annualised level of gain is now running at around 60,000.

So, that's already a drop of around 16.5% on the levels of net gain seen not so long ago.

Obviously it will be very interesting to see if those seasonally-adjusted monthly figures keep falling in the next few months.

Composition

The next big point of interest is to see how people are getting into the country - namely what kind of visa they are coming in on.

The below gives the full picture of arrivals for the year to March 2018, with comparable figures again going back to 2012.

Permanent & long-term arrivals by visa type (Ann-Mar)

  Residence Student Visitor Work NZ/Aus
citizens
Other TOTAL
2012 13,005 16,151 4,424 23,937 26,179 688 84,384
2013 12,640 14,293 4,265 26,347 27,793 688 86,026
2014 12,722 16,822 4,747 30,862 32,024 818 97,995
2015 13,685 25,491 5,034 34,452 34,339 788 113,789
2016 14,735 27,704 5,865 38,620 36,355 790 124,069
2017 16,763 23,861 6,357 43,725 38,119 693 129,518
2018 14,590 23,839 6,699 46,338 38,713 666 130,845

It's a lot isn't it? The overall total coming in has increased 55% in the past six years.

It's worth highlighting some things in there. 

Note the NZ/Aus citizens numbers. They've increased nearly 48%. That's worth bearing in mind because there's nothing that can be done about those numbers (unless there's a policy change on free access to New Zealand for Australian citizens). And the other point is, although the figures aren't broken down, NZ citizens would make up the majority of those figures and obviously Kiwis are always going to be free to come and go as they please. Point being the NZ and Australian citizens right now fall outside of any Government policy changes.

Next point of very big note is the student numbers, which are now starting to decline - a decline that would undoubtedly be to do with tweaks in 2016 and 2017 made to setting by the previous National Government. These included reduction of the residency target figure, tougher language requirements, and the changes to skilled migrant categories - which potentially probably also had an impact on student numbers given that clearly of lot of 'students' were really targeting coming here to work.  

But then there is the whole issue of work visas - and that is the biggie. As can be seen the annual figures to March show that the numbers issued work visas have roughly doubled in the past six years and you've now got round about the population of say Nelson city coming into the country to work every 12 months. 

At which point I bring in yet another chart, this again for the month of April going back to 2012. This one shows the more immediate current trends and as I'm highlighting the student, work and residence visa figures I've just included those, along with the totals (so, NO, the figures going from right to left don't add up to the total given because some categories such as NZ/Aus citizens have been taken out).

Permanent & long-term arrivals by visa type (April)

  Residence Student Work TOTAL
Apr 2012 898 803 1,500 5,123
Apr 2013 978 834 2,112 6,314
Apr 2014 1,039 1,223 2,152 7,130
Apr 2015 943 1,425 2,502 7,776
Apr 2016 1,266 1,366 2,707 8,376
Apr 2017 1,181 1,374 2,973 8,637
Apr 2018 891 1,270 3,010 8,247

And what can be seen is that the pace of work visas is still steaming along. Some 3000 in the latest April, which again is double the amount that were issued for the same month six years ago.

The student numbers show a continuance of that falling trend. 

The monthly figures also - more clearly than the annual figures - highlight a sharp fall in the numbers of residence visas. The 891 figure for April is in fact the lowest April total since Stats NZ started breaking these figures down in 2003 and it's the lowest figure for any month since June 2013.

Here then are the April figures shown according to whether those coming into the country are NZ citizens or non-NZ citizens.

Permanent & long-term arrivals - April month

  NZ citizens Non-NZ citizens TOTAL ALL 
  Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted
Apr 2012 1,402 1,780 3,721 4,590 5,123 6,370
Apr 2013 1,691 2,130 4,623 5,720 6,314 7,860
Apr 2014 1,947 2,450 5,183 6,450 7,130 8,900
Apr 2015 2,026 2,540 5,750 7,220 7,776 9,760
Apr 2016 2,093 2,620 6,283 7,960 8,376 10,600
Apr 2017 2,067 2,590 6,570 8,390 8,637 10,990
Apr 2018 2,113 2,650 6,134 7,840 8,247 10,500

The numbers of Kiwis coming in have been remarkably consistent.

As for non-NZ citizens, the latest April shows a reasonably significant fall from the figure of a year ago, which would be consistent with some impact from the tweaks made by the previous National Government.

That impact is then, I think, more clearly shown by the final chart, which shows those leaving the country, again for April.

Permanent & long-term departures April month

  NZ citizens Non-NZ citizens TOTAL ALL 
  Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted Actual Counts Seasonally Adjusted
Apr 2012 5,407 5,170 1,978 2,070 7,385 7,270
Apr 2013 4,496 4,280 1,846 1,930 6,342 6,250
Apr 2014 3,020 2,860 1,686 1,760 4,706 4,630
Apr 2015 2,995 2,800 1,819 1,900 4,814 4,720
Apr 2016 3,053 2,830 1,870 1,940 4,923 4,800
Apr 2017 3,092 2,840 2,139 2,210 5,231 5,060
Apr 2018 3,166 2,890 2,621 2,700 5,787 5,570

I've put the counts of the actual numbers of non-NZ citizens leaving in bold. 

The 2,621 non-NZers who left in April made up the hghest total for an April since Stats NZ started publishing this particular breakdown in 1978.

And the April figures follow on from several months of close-to-record departures of non-NZ citizens.

Therefore, it will be most interesting to watch this pattern and see if it continues or indeed increases.

Meanwhile, though, if you look on the left column of that last table at the actual numbers of NZ citizens leaving, that's remained very consistent. A key thing to watch will be if those figures of Kiwis leaving start to blip up again (as may well happen if the economy here dips and if at the same time the Australian economy starts to pick up).

We are therefore at something of an interesting crossroads. 

These figures as presented here would suggest there's still a massive issue around issuing of work visas - IE far too many.

Really you can't just look at the overall migration total, you have to look at the moving parts within that total. What those individual parts tell you is that we don't appear to have our migration settings anything near right.

Where are the policies?

We are still depending on the kind of 'natural' changes in the flows for the figures to effectively 'come right' of their own volition.

The point is though that with the numbers of work visas still very high, it would only take another upsurge in student numbers - as might happen under the new degree-friendly Labour policy highlighted at the beginning of this article - to see the total migration numbers start to rise again.

Where are the targets? It's high time that this country actually had proper targets. Ask the question: Do we want an increase in the total population numbers? I think the answer for a lot of interest.co.nz readers is NO. 

We should therefore as a country be targeting migration numbers directly in terms of how many people we think can properly be housed and afforded in this country. And if there's too many migrants coming in, cut the numbers.

This government, contrary to what it said it would do in Opposition, is doing the same as the previous Government - leaving it to chance.

It's well past time for some serious thinking and some proper policies, people.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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83 Comments

This trend is not going to reverse unless NZ and Australia both gain a few IQ points.

So a steady net loss of our most dynamic and entrepreneurial kiwis? This is a good thing???

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The best people are not valued in New Zealand. Born and bred kiwis are barely even valued. It's a no brainer to leave.

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Agree with David. Do not muck around if want to act than act be it migration, foreign ban or any other issue.

"If you (Labour) wants to shoot, shoot and don't talk"

What do you mean by "muck around"?

Do you think then that the Government shouldn't bother to check whether there is actual evidence of a real problem; and if there is, whether the proposed policy will really address it; and if it will, what other costs and consequences might it entail?

Muck around means be clear with your policies and maintain a time limit.

Also if having cold feet for any promise that were done to get votes and now change of plan, be bold and say so instead of Muckking around and trying to play around with time.

Ban on foreign buyer will be a Litimus Test of Labour. Not only it should now be delivered as promised by next month (or can delay the process) and also should not dilute and manipulate the content.

I agree that the government statistics we have now amount to lies. The transaction based statistics have a funny definition of what a foreigner is and are reported on the basis of buyers rather than net sales. There ought to have a register of non-citizen owners so the picture is clear.

However... Labour do not need to collect evidence before banning foreign buyers. There is an elephant in the room. It's very clear which group has been pumping up the market if you just google "Barfoot and Thompson top agents". It should be the default position that NZ looks after citizens first. London has turned into the middle east. Vancouver has turned into China. Why would we want to be next? The government should be justifying why foreign buyers *should* be allowed to buy land here at all.
If you disagree and actually believe the 3% statistic then surely a foreign buyer ban won't have any significant effect. There is nothing to hide right???

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We need a stable non growing population number. I would even advocate a reduction in numbers would be economically beneficial, as well as giving advantages socially and environmentally.
Not hard to do at all, and not costly either.
No more hearing about the impossible costs of growth that Auckland (and others) face, which they have not idea of how to fund. As a follower of serious news, sometimes it comes up hourly and has done for years. Be so good to hear another narrative.

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Thanks for writing a well reasoned article David. I believe this is one of the biggest issues holding NZ back from achieving the living standards we once enjoyed. The public have been hoodwinked into thinking that mass immigration is a good thing, and any chat around reducing it is racist. Somehow this narrative needs to change, and the more we see articles like this the better. Please keep them up.. and hopefully the message will eventually get out..

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"The public have been hoodwinked into thinking that mass immigration is a good thing"

Really? everywhere I go, everyone I speak too, all seem to think it is a crock.

The only ones that think it is a good thing appear to be our MPs

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and the businesses that fund our major parties.
Who wants to train a Kiwi bus driver and then pay them sufficient to keep them when for Richies it is so easy to get foreigners and pay them a smidgen above minimum wages.
Politicians ought to give our low paid and our underemployed Kiwis a fair go.

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Yes, you have to love democracy.

Non-voting entities with money have more sway than the actual voters.

unelected and non-voting

Do we really have true democracy?

Look at the 2014 election. http://www.elections.org.nz/news-media/new-zealand-2014-general-election...

I count two zero seat parties that would have secured a seat if not for the 5% threshold.
I count three one seat parties that only made it in because of technicalities. United Future got in because Dunne's voter base was concentrated into a small Gerrymander like electorate. Maori party got in because of racial privilege. Act were thrown a coat tail bone by National.

Any new political idea that is for the people and not sponsored by corporate greed has to start with one or two seats and grow from there. The 5% threshold effectively prevents any new ideas (good or bad). Especially when the party vote is non-transferable or non-preferential.

The same MPs voted in by this system get to decide how the rules are changed. Talk about foxes guarding the hen house... Some of the foxes are even trained spies born overseas.

Once voted in they get to screw up for three years before we can even consider replacing them. For people with such high responsibility they have almost no accountability.

That's known as plutocracy...

"Non-voting entities with money"

That's known as plutocracy...

"Non-voting entities with money"

That's a plutocracy...

Not to mention 2Degrees wanting to import cheaper call centre workers rather than offer pay and conditions equal to Spark and Vodafone.

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Someone needs to call them out on this. Labour that is.

Has any journalist asked them why they're doing nothing?

Jacinda doesn’t feel like doing much work at the moment, she’s in nesting mode.

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What excuse did Bill English and John Key have? 9 years of doing nothing and not a baby in sight.

They chucked the baby out with the bath water, Not very accommodating, except to their investments, not very sensible as people revolted, chucking them out with the waste water, polluted by cows and other pigs issues.

Jumped ship as soon as the crap they created appeared to the voters.

If ya do not look after the voters, even an MMP system can vote you out, combined with hope for one and all.

Wait a minute , he did some hair pulling?

As much as I think she isn't remotely real PM material I sympathise with her situation. She will never get these next months back and she will likely rue that in a few years when she's on the political scrap heap, which is her certain future, as with all other PMs before her.

The media have their snouts in the pro-immigration trough. Real estate adverticles everywhere and often puff pieces from think tanks. It's sad to see the odd article from the [Sell] New Zealand Initiative on this website which is usually high quality.

Take this example on Stuff.co: Asia New Zealand Foundation https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/104573585/young-leader...

The comments on that Stuff article are entirely negative.

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There are the economic drivers from immigration which both National & Labour wish to continue - maybe Labour will moderate the large inflow a bit.
Then there are the ideological drivers, UN supported, secular liberal agenda which seeks to dismantle the historic values NZ has a heritage of, and seeks to disregard the family and cultural ancestral ties that most NZers have with the UK and similar countries of origin. The ‘melting pot’ diversity ideal - which is the rationale given by many proponents.
The student-based Immigration is a concern as it has an effect on the authenticity of NZ tertiary education, as well as providing an easy immigration pathway to many who are not fulfilling the so-called skills shortage.

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I've never really understood the loonies who hate our British heritage and argue for its replacement. There are a few of them around!

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Second that!!! The British common law is one of the best thing the Brits gave to all humanity and yet there is a growing neo Marxist trend brewing all over the western worlds that want to dismantle it because it was made by the "white man".... little do they know the irony of them being able to protest about it is due to the rights given to them through this common law system... LOL. Try to protest in any Islamic country about their system and see what happens XD XD XD

Brock, why don't you just go back to the UK then. Have you not stolen enough from the Maoris yet?

Brock must be surprisingly old!? Near on impossibly old to have done what your suggesting...

The Maori consented allow the British settle here by ship 200 years ago. Most of the race relations issues were been sorted out over time.
It was never part of the deal to be colonised a second time. Have any politicians asked Maori how they feel about the plane loads of people arriving every day which the govt claim as not foreign as soon as they have an IRD number.

This time there are not even blankets and muskets. The prize is you get to rent for decades from a landlord you can't even speak with.

Cheesy, you probably need to think a little bit about whether you really want people like Brock to leave, before being nasty to them. A foreign buyer ban is imminent, we have a housing market where credit will start to tighten significantly and where buyers may soon be in short supply, it's probably not in the best interest of your portfolio staying in positive equity to encourage people who have money to leave. There will be enough sensible people who will do that anyway as it turns to custard (no that's not an invitation for your mate to post). And my guess is that there will also be a lot of leveraged Chinese Capital that will need to re-assess its position in the NZ property market too, you may know some of them? Is it time to start thinking before posting?

It's odd really as all the people who come to the West and all those that yearn to come to the West effectively endorse British heritage. I will always remember during the flag debate speaking with a Chinese immigrant who voted against the proposed change who said the Union Jack on the flag symbolized why they chose to come to NZ in the first place. Why would they vote to change it?

Funny how the ones pushing open borders and diversity live in the least diverse circles and have the biggest walls around their properties.

Those ones want diversity of restaurants to eat in, not neighbours to live next to.

(And high house prices and low labour costs, obviously.)

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When I was in my early twenties and on my OE in the UK...I was having dinner with a family friend who had been living and working abroad for years and years. I asked him why he had never come home and chose to stay abroad. His answer was because he felt NZ couldn't decide what it wanted to be and would probably never because the Country doesn't create good political leaders or run itself particularly well. I thought that remark a bit harsh so ordered another beer, at his expense. Fast forward nearly 20 years and two equally long and equally disillusioning tenures of governments of both side of the house and I can now see exactly what he means....the country doesn't do strategic anything. The migrant question alone is hugely important. Get it wrong and it has enormous implications. I honestly think its a symptom of the two party system, they are both as lazy as each other because they both know sooner or later they will get another turn. Where is the disrupt-or to this duopoly of political power and when will it get here? Not soon enough!

" ..........the country doesn't do strategic anything " A great observation above from 4th estate.

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Totally agree David, for such a small country those numbers are huge. I cannot believe that we just accept this level of immigration is good for the future of NZ.

If the current immigration levels are bringing more workers to the country, couldn't the governments use those additional tax dollars from the larger individual and corporate tax bases to fund infrastructure projects.

Immigration NZ put an income threshold on skilled migrant resident visas last year, and ever since the number of applicants to the programme has halved. So nearly half of the so-called "skilled" migrants were not earning 50k per annum even after a few years on the job.
Clearly the level of immigration is not even good for the present of NZ!

Yes, that was a highly contested move by National where the service/hospitality sector was concerned. But it looks like it was the right thing to do, as those resident visa numbers are trending downward in response.

With the work visas, we need a breakdown by job type. Hopefully we have a lot less retail managers, retail assistants, restaurant managers and chefs coming in on work visas. Teachers, nurses, plumbers & drainlayers, carpenters and electricians, I don't think i'd have that much of a problem with.

Although it would be nice to think the government is also putting an emphasis on apprenticeships/trades education and training.

No, it's a terrible thing, of course, but there is simply no reason to stay in New Zealand unless you wish to be an accountant or a plumber, and are fixated on getting drunk around the barbecue every weekend while gibbering about houses, cars and the various sporting cups. Because that's the most NZ has to offer and anyone who wants anything more has to go elsewhere to get it.

You left out the fishing. Slimy stinky fishing.

The fishing isn't too bad when commercial operations, developers and poachers are not buggering it up.

An overseas resident coming here to do a level 1 degree is showing a serious level of commitment and making a decent contribution to our eduction system. These are the sort of (generally) younger top end people that we should be targeting as possible future permanent migrants. The policy change to allowing them to work seems sensible. As does watching the trends triggered by the (belated) policy changes of the last government for a while before making further changes. Aus is firing strongly and we could well see a rapid ramp up in NZ citizen emigration. I think the CoL position is prudent.

Yes, agree, a 3 year degree gives a better chance of NZ benefiting from a trained graduate.
However, the new rules are likely to be re-interpreted by the NZ tertiary education sector, as they need this source of funding to stay solvent. E.g. possible re-interpretation - credit 2 years of an offshore degree from an offshore "institute', then add a NZ 1 year study programme = NZ bachelors = 3 year work visa, & fees/incentive for the NZ Uni.

I'm pretty sure what it will lead to is a further dumbing down of Bachelor level study to meet the market.

All these qualification standards are a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense. We already have a measure of how competent or how productive a person is. It's called their salary.

A basic policy might be:
Temporary work visa: >$50k, 1 year expiry.
Residency visa: >$70k.
Residency + bring family over >$140k.

There might well be the same kind of visa fraud but at least they'd be paying tax directly to the govt instead of paying dodgy business schools and restaurant owners.

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1) The politicians have been shown to be inept at managing the immigration policy.

2) The very high immigration rate at the moment (one of the highest in the OECD) is causing huge diseconomies of scale in Auckland where most immigrants end up.

3) The very high immigration rate is stifling gdp per capita growth

4) The immigration rate has a significant impact on our ability to reach zero carbon as the zero carbon target is absolute not per capita.

5) We as New Zealanders need to use the immigration rate to our advantage, not make a sword for our own backs.

6) The immigration rate needs to be bought back to something more sustainable

7) Give the 12 month rolling immigration rate to the RBNZ to use as a macroeconomic tool along with interest rates and with the requirement that the RBNZ has to maintain price stability, seek maximum employment and seek to maximize gdp growth per capita.

8) The government can set the mix in immigrants within the overall immigration rate.

Agree with everything you said. Focusing on gdp per capita at the very least is the key to making our politicians scale back on immigration and be honest with us. Currently we judge them purely on one number gdp growth. This misleads the economic growth story for any normal person and ignores the most important things we should be judging our governments.

One small correction. Nz actually has the highest immigration rate in the oecd. More than two times higher than the number two spot Australia.

GDP per capita is also affected by our growing retiree population. It would be interesting to look at those statistics beside the percentage increase in NZ Super costs.

Logically you have a good point. With a rapidly growing population of comparatively younger immigrants the number of retirees in NZ ought to be less than countries with lower immigration (any OECD country). Then we also know that NZ has a greater percentage of working retirees than almost any other country that has a pension. Both of those factors would be nudging our GDP per capita up. Which isn't what is reported.
On the other hand two opposite factors: most of the OECD is pushing up the age for retirement and secondly it is possible that Kiwis are on average fitter and healthier than other countries.
Surely it makes sense to calculate GDP per capita by working population not entire population including babies, prisoners, geriatrics.

Agree with everything you said. Focusing on gdp per capita at the very least is the key to making our politicians scale back on immigration and be honest with us. Currently we judge them purely on one number gdp growth. This misleads the economic growth story for any normal person and ignores the most important things we should be judging our governments.

One small correction. Nz actually has the highest immigration rate in the oecd. More than two times higher than the number two spot Australia.

Are you sure about double Oz? I thought it was just 50% more than our neighbour but triple UK and USA (that is before Trump was elected).

USA and UK are the hardest nuts to crack for migrants seeking permanent residency as only the best and the brightest are retained. These countries choose to keep only those migrants who contribute in productive parts of the economy, mainly through their knowledge in STEM.
Conversely, governments in NZ have artificially kept economic growth high by boosting low value industries and feeding them low-skilled, vulnerable workers to exploit.

You're kidding about the UK I hope as being hardest nut to crack. On our list of essential workers we have 'Bangladeshi Curry chef' - apparently a skill that cannot be taught at catering college.... The UK is a walk in the park to get into, why else do you think the brexit vote occurred.... The local Curry chefs (who'd taken on big mortgages before the migration doors opened) were getting fed up with cheaper curry chefs coming in, renting houses of multiple occupancy and undercutting their wages.....(read same for pretty much every other low skilled job category)

Errrrm the Brexit vote had nothing to do with Bangladeshi's it was about Europe!?!?!

1. Brits love curry and if there was a shortage of curry chefs, that would actually be a national crisis ;-)
2. If anyone who voted for Brexit thinks that will involves less immigration they are sorely mistaken. No one ever promised that (potential migrants to the UK deciding not to move to there because it appears in the global media as an increasingly xenophobic and insular place might be an unintended consequence though).
3. Achieving Permanent Residency in the UK is very different depending on when you first landed, which stream you applied to and when you did that and what the political mood is at that moment in time. It took my husband 11 years and over £10k to finally achieve his British passport (despite the fact that he has some rather famous and upstanding British ancestors. He achieved this via the highly skilled migrant category, but had friends who arrived from NZ, Canada, America and Oz shortly after him, rules had changed and they got booted out. When my hubs finally passed his ridiculous "life in the UK test" and did his ceremony, he was the only person actually speaking English at the ceremony despite the fact that getting to that point requires that you pass an English fluency test and a very high level of english language. So for one English speaking Kiwi, BLOODY HARD to get a UK passport. But for anyone in Europe... just get on a boat or plane. For anyone else... depends when, how, who... so many factors.
4. For a country who spent several centuries colonising other peoples lands and wealth there is probably more ethical/moral reason for them to welcome immigrants from those places than many other countries
5. Immigration is political dynamite in the UK, it is used and abused accordingly although no government of any kind has ever reduced it! Immigration is reducing now, simply because less people fancy moving there because of the economic self harm that Brexit has turned out to be, massive economic uncertainty, a reduction in investment etc etc and because it appears as a less immigrant welcoming place.

woah...I was just having a bit of fun there about how easy it is to get into the UK..Your husband was obviously not a skilled vindaloo technician. For the record it was a lot of our previous immigrants in the UK that didn't want anymore immigration, just as much as the old and lower socio-economic groups of indigenous British (whatever that is these days).

The Brexit vote was a reaction to 20 years of unbridled immigration (particularly last 10 years) and a majority feeling that it had not improved the Country, hence the vote went the way it did. How did we get there? because to sustain the levels of banking debt and prevent the crash we needed more people to put pressure on asset values and stop them collapsing.. Has it worked... No, the UK is overcrowded and property prices are falling again anyway...

And for the record, I appreciate all of your postings gingerninja, you are a pleasure to read and I meant no offence.

I'm pretty sure I read that here on interest.co.nz

Net migration Population Rate
NZ 70,000 4,500,000 1.56%
AU 245,000 25,000,000 0.98%
UK 244,000 65,000,000 0.38%
USA 1,267,000 325,000,000 0.39%

And let's not forget of those 1.8 million migrants the top 80% (best qualified) are going to choose Australia or the USA for better living standards. The UK and NZ are getting the worst ones.

I recall that company being outed years ago - seems a long time for it to take to get to court!!!! And it now also seems from this media report they kept going for years since it was first reported in 2013;

http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/8670513/Ghost-writers-used-by-...

This could well be the Auckland company that nig referred to here the other day.

Ridiculous that Stuff (Fairfax media) had to do the initial investigation.

The instant NZ institutions opened up to overseas students, it opened up the market for fraud and forgeries. Before that, if somebody with limited English, born and raised in Beijing or Mumbai presented with a degree from an NZ university, it would raise questions and be treated with suspicion. But that all changed very quickly. We were seeing things like fake seals and forged certificate blanks for manufacturing fake degrees back in the mid-90s, but then and now police were completely overwhelmed with violence, meth epidemic, armed robberies and all the rest of it, and fecking about with educational fraud never makes it into the top priority leagues.

Too bad for everybody who's worked honestly for a degree that's now completely devalued.

One of the real issues here is superannuation. We don't have enough workers to pay all us oldies for the next 30 years. I think the shear numbers were behind Mr key's continuing immigration thinking. He's a globalist so whatever washes up at the bottom of the pool doesn't affect him. But the comments above are correct in that we simply cannot cope with the surge in immigrants (and it's not just NZ) that we have today. If we can turn the tap off in China (money & people) which they're trying hard to do, bless them, then we've got a chance. But it's a last chance already. The horse may have already bolted. If push comes to shove there may well be too many here already. And believe me, push will come to shove.

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Immigrants get old too. We should figure out how to survive without a demographic pyramid scheme because it's just kicking a worse problem down to the next generation. On top of what's already been done to them.

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'Demographic pyramid scheme'
Nice.

Spot on. Young workers get old too. It can’t just be about feeding people into the bottom of the pyramid.

You are kidding I hope, everyone knows that young people can't afford to breed Brock. They're too busy renting their houses from their parent's friends and don't know when the next rent hike will happen. Parents friends wish they had grandchildren but sorry that was your choice babyboomer. Rent or a grandchild and you made that decision /rent.. It'll be okay because providing immigration is controlled then in 15 years (with no local birth rate) there will be no people to rent the babyboomers houses so everything will get really really cheap and the millenials (before 40) will have a mortgage free property..

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I have family who work in the health system and they are reporting widespread alarm at the high levels of elderly immigrants that have arrived on family grounds and are accessing public heath, pensions and benefits upon arrival in NZ. Does anyone have access to evidence to verify this?

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I know a couple who came here from Asia. Had 2 children, brought the parents over. Elderly mother had a double hip replacement, state house and pension for the parents. The couple then split up, Mum on DPB. Dad on unemployment and doesn't want to work as he will have his wages garnished.
Looks like a Lose/Lose for the taxpayer, we don't need too many immigrants like this. Imagine what the cost to the taxpayer is?

..add to that the many that leave the spouse behind on the dpb and head back overseas for employment. Regular visits back home for a catch-up...no problem.

The rorts on this country are huge.....but no one is collecting the data..nobody wants to admit the inability of our sytems to cope with the new 'imported' fraud.

.

Racist!!! Xenophobe!! Liar!! - ................................................ not. Unfortunately. Kiwis so dumb.

Of course this data ought to be published but it isn't. A few years ago I was interested in this issue and downloaded the INZ permanent residency database. It clearly proved that when the family reunion visa was frozen (typically an arbitrary decision with virtually no discussion by politicians) in mid 2016 (from memory) they stopped arriving. I also checked for previous years and it was clear that very few family members over the age of 50 were being approved for China and other Asian countries.
There have been too many anecdotal reports online to believe the system was administered carefully further in the past (my checking stopped about 2012). Another example of NZ bureaucrats being very naive [Milton Friedman said you cannot have immigration and a welfare state - was he right?].

There is no reason elderly parents cannot be immigrants; it just needs adequate health insurance and a purchased pension equivalent to NZ superannuation.

BTW: I am an immigrant myself and have now retired and have been treated by the wonderful service at North Shore hospital. I hope I contributed enough tax to deserve the treatment and my NZ superannuation is mainly my UK state pension with a little top up.

Yep, just local case study to start. We've got a family over the road from us, two brothers from India, with their wives and six children between them all living together and sharing the rent on a four bed house. They've recently relocated their elderly parents (grandparents) who I believe are now living in the garage because there is a bed, sofa, lights and TV in there which I see when they open it up to take the lawnmower out. Has allowed all four parents to go to work to pay the rent and the grandparents look after the kids between hospital appointments.... It's very much like it is in Leicester!

Multimillion dollar university cheating businesses out there, so you don't even need to actually study the subject you pay for. Just a cheaper path to work visa & residency with a slight time delay. Actually that is not right, family & marriage visas are the cheapest.

3 years is a short time to be in Government, immigration is one of the big policies, if they renege on this then people will look for alternatives.

What alternatives? More do nothing?

Move, vote for someone else. Even if its NZ first, then at least it wont be labour, or back to national. Whatever the government, they need to know they will get voted out if they don't listen to voters. Even if its back to the party that got us into this mess, they cant do any worse then its already in, OK maybe they can. But its the only power we have.

David: thank you for an informed article on a subject discussed by voters but avoided by politicians.
Fairly understandably politicians do not want to get involved in accusations of racism - the noise swamps the message.
Fortunately Mr Lees-Galloway is willing to mention the subject and I believe he cares about the worker exploitation, the rorts and the fraud that are inextricably part of our immigration system. He is bothered about NZ's reputation in the world unlike most politicians and some academics and journalists. It is really important that his planned changes are discussed in the media otherwise devious minds will find ways to evade the purpose behind his proposals.
For example linking annual salary to immigration visas would make more sense than the current concept of using a 'skills database' - it is too easy to declare every kitchen worker is a 'chef' (as per a recent court case in my electorate) or everyone with an IT diploma is an IT guru. A simple linking of IRD annual income with each immigration visa would identify the problematic immigrant.

I agree totally that salary should be used as an indicator for level of skill and true extent of shortage of workers in that field - maybe $100,000 for a worker over 35, and $70,000 for a younger worker would be about right.

However I did read this in the weekend Herald, in an article about migrant exploitation:

"Indian Workers Association co-ordinator Mandeep Bela said he was often approached by workers being exploited, many of them tied to their employer because they were on assisted visas.
...
A recent tactic, "which has been happening quite regularly, is that the employer pays the wages in the employee's account to show it is clean business and then the employee has to withdraw the wages and give it back to the employer in cash," he said."
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=120...

Re that last, we should consider deporting (after initial appropriate punishment) those who are the exploiters in such situations, where they are not already citizens. They have demonstrated they are not willing to abide by NZ's standards and laws.

You may be wrong in assuming all are foreign. Then there is extent of exploitation - asking an employee to work through their lunch hour may technically be illegal.
Even when blatant will be very difficult to get details of this type of corruption (and corruption it is with honest kiwi businesses suffering unfair competition).