Blaming the Auckland housing bubble on immigrants is like saying 'cars are too expensive in New Zealand because the Chinese are buying all our cars.’

It fails to correctly define the real problem - which is affordability, not immigration. The average wage can no longer buy the average house.

And it blames the wrong people for the wrong problem. Don Brash on TVNZ’s Q&A programme this morning said the housing bubble can be explained by a simple story of supply and demand; too many migrants means too many people for too few jobs and too few houses. Therefore reduce the number of people coming here and you’ll fix all our problems.

As if you can fix the problems in the New Zealand economy by reducing it. What a paucity of vision that reveals.

While the rules of supply and demand still apply, you can’t look at that in isolation.

Other parts of the economy are transformed as a result of migration too: for example 60 per cent of new migrants come in under the skilled migrant programme. These are IT specialists who feed the insatiable appetite for talent from some of our new high tech companies; they’re engineers who help re-build Christchurch, scientist and more. IT companies like Xero in Wellington would probably relocate out of New Zealand if they couldn’t get the skilled employees they need to grow. They can’t even wait three years for New Zealanders to graduate. They need to grow now. 

Other New Zealand companies are more likely to invest, grow and increase their productivity if they know they’re going to get the staff they need. That’s even true in low-skilled industries like horticulture and wine, where the RSE (Registered Seasonal Employers) scheme gives employers a reliable work force from the Pacific for the picking season. That predictability means they create more permanent jobs for New Zealanders when the Pacific Island workers return to their villages. 

New migrants contribute nearly $2 billion each year to the New Zealand economy. International students contribute about $2.3 billion. 

Our immigration settings are pretty much on the right track; we ask ‘what does New Zealand need?’ not ‘who wants to come here?’. Our immigration staff go out and actively recruit people for high skilled jobs. They don’t just want people to fill jobs, they want people who create jobs; investors, entrepreneurs who want to work and live here.

Networks like KiwiConnect in the Wairarapa – a bunch of new migrants who love this country and want to support New Zealand to grow (including people like James Cameron) connect up overseas money with start up companies here. They believe New Zealand is only a few years away from being an incubator for new ideas to solve some of the tough global problems, from energy supply to new technology. 

Looking at immigration through the lens of supply and demand only tells you part of the story. It doesn't measure where immigration is helping us grow.

Shamubeel Eaqub's 'F bomb' on Q&A this morning (he said Winston Peter’s should stop scaremongering about immigration and ‘get @X!# real’) reveals the frustration of this polite, well-spoken economist at the stupidly around the immigration debate in New Zealand.  

Don Brash is right. New Zealand needs to do something about its low productivity, its stagnant wage growth, and the housing bubble in Auckland. That’s not an immigration problem – that’s a political problem. New Zealand needs a government prepared to do much more to back innovation and support entrepreneurs with the best ideas.

The Left in New Zealand isn’t showing principled leadership either. The Labour party should look to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Britain and see how the Left there has responded to immigration in the European Union; they see the free movement of people as a progressive balance to the free flow of capital.

In the spirit of brotherliness, they embrace immigration and spend their energy pushing for decent work conditions and minimum wages for every worker in Europe. They see growth and trade as the best pathway to higher wages and social progress. The demand a seat at the table when EU leaders talks trade or immigration, and they get one.

What they don’t do is trade on people’s fear of immigration or make lists of people with ethnic sounding names and blame them for a housing crisis. When the left finds itself agreeing with Don Brash, it’s time to ask – what was the question again?

Comments (30)

by Ross on August 23, 2015
Ross

It fails to correctly define the real problem - which is affordability, not immigration. The average wage can no longer buy the average house.

That is because house prices have gone up faster than wages, especially in Auckland. Why have house prices in Auckland gone up so much? To ignore immigration seems naive.

by Ross on August 23, 2015
Ross

What they don’t do is trade on people’s fear of immigration or make lists of people with ethnic sounding names and blame them for a housing crisis. 

When someone on the Left repeats David Farrar's lines, should that person be taken seriously?

by Murray Grimwood on August 24, 2015
Murray Grimwood

No, on both counts.

Wages are a red herring :)

Income is actually the ability to buy processed bits of the planet (there's no other source of anything else). There are more and more people and less and less remaining resources, of ever-diminishing quality.

So of course most people can buy 'less' - a process which must get worse with exponential rapidity.

Except - more and more of everyone's 'wealth' was actually debt. Which there has the be an ever-decreasing chance of repaying. So this is just another 'avodance of the real issue' post from a Labourite. It could equally have come from Blue or Green; there is no Party and only a handful of Members, who get the big=picture problem.

Why doesn't someone ask why Bill English has commandeered the word 'Resilient' of late, and has suddenly woken up to the infreastucture-maintenance overhang? The triage we can not - from here on in - ever keep up with,

In terms of true sustainability, we chewed through the real wealth - the real world - in an unsustainable manner, but some folk thought it was a forever-state. Not thinking big-enough.

by barry on August 24, 2015
barry

Immigration is a ponzi scheme.  We "grow" the economy by growing the population.  It makes things look good and creates jobs but can hardly be considered sustainable. 

Any discussion of immigration should start by defining why they want the population to rise and to what level?  Do we think the population should grow indefinitely, or should we stop at 5 million? 20 million? 100 million? ...?  How fast should it grow?  Is 50 000 per year about right or should we aim for 100 000? or 1 million?

If we grow too fast (or at all) then we lose some of the things that make NZ what it is.  It may be better or worse depending on your POV, but what it won't be is the same. 

As the cities get larger we lose access to nature.  We get more pollution and loss of biodiversity.  these are all downsides to growth.  Properly managed we can gain things as well from having a greater market (in the general sense) for services, culture and recreational opportunities.

For decades employers have been crying about lack of qualified/experienced workers.  But the commitment to training locals has been lacking and immigration as a means of filling gaps has not been a short term fix but a long term strategy.  Would it not be better to increase training and encourage hiring of new graduates?  We have a lot of graduates (in sought-after occupations) that can't get jobs because employers will not take risks with employing people without experience.

It is lazy to say that settings are "about right" without conducting some analysis.

Yes Auckland's house prices are going up to unaffordable levels because of demand exceeding supply (leading to a bubble).  Demand is (at least partly) fuelled by immigration and supply is limited by shortage of builders (I said 7 years ago when they cut support for apprenticeships that it was short-sighted), and other factors.  Sure the government/council could do more to increase supply, but demand is a big part of the problem and restricting demand could solve the problem.

So yes, take the racism out of the debate, but don't rule out a discussion of what level of immigration is desirable.  And don't ignore the problems caused by immigration, while accusing others of ignoring the advantages.

by Tim Watkin on August 24, 2015
Tim Watkin

Josie, I'm struggling to understand how you get from 'don't blame immigrants for Auckland's house prices' to you can't view demand and supply "in isolation" in just a few pars. I don't think anyone, least of all Don Brash, is blaming the housing problems just on demand or is saying a reduction would "fix all our problems". Only a few years ago, he was a big factor behind the Productivity Commission's report that so strongly pushed the blame onto supply. It's the rhetorical basis the government uses to repeatedly talk about supply as the heart of the housing problem, whilst pretending that you can have one (supply problems) without the other (demand problems).

You seem to be oddly falling into the same trap, if for different reasons, by looking at demand in isolation from supply. They're two sides of the same coin. Clearly, Auckland doesn't have enough houses, hence prices rise. But adding more people to that small housing pool obviously exacerbates the problem. Tell me if I'm misreading you, but you seem to be arguing immigrants aren't a factor. Or that because of the good they do or because they're brothers, we shouldn't be discussing immigrations rates.

To me that's ignoring one side of the coin.

Of course there are gains to be had from immigration (and as it stands, as Labour likes to point out, without it our growth would be marginal). Skills, money and all the things you say. But regardless of how you judge it or who you want to blame people or not,  you're not arguing that immigration isn't part of what's pushing up Auckland's house prices, are you?

by Josie Pagani on August 25, 2015
Josie Pagani

Hi Tim - No -  I'm not arguing demand (more immigrants) and supply (not enough houses) aren't part of what's driving up house prices - but a small part surely. Tax incentives are such that you'd be mad not to speculate in Ak housing - that's a bigger reason surely. As is the fact that wages in NZ haven't increased enough to keep up with house prices, as they have in US cities like San Fransisco where there are limited numbers of houses (low supply) and lots of people who want to live there (high demand).

You're absolutely right though - consecutive governments haven't kept up with infrastructure (houses, pipes, roads) to supply even enough for general population growth, let alone immigration. And yes, we need to talk about immigration (how much is too much?)

But I am saying that you can't look at supply and demand in isolation from all the other things that change in the economy when more people come to live here when you're trying to answer that question. You could equally argue that an increase in labour (more migrants) lowers wages because it increases the supply of workers. Possibly true in the short term, although that's debatable. And again - that makes an assumption that nothing else is changing that also effects wages; companies have reliable workers, therefore are more likely to invest, increase productivity, and create higher value jobs with higher wages. Migrants who come here don't just come to do jobs, many create jobs. In the US, 25% of the new high tech start ups in the last few years were started by migrants. The list is growing here.

Don Brash was framing the immigration debate in terms of supply and demand - only. I'm arguing - Get #@^! real - there are many other factors that have to be measured too!

by Josie Pagani on August 25, 2015
Josie Pagani

Hi Barry and Ross - I agree. We need to look at immigration - talk about how much is too much. But also how we compete with other countries for the best migrants and investors who want to come and live here. Because getting those people is really hard. 

And yes - we need to look at the problems - and prepare for them. 

But I also believe that the free movement of working people across borders is a progressive principle. Closing borders and making lists of people of certain ethnicity to blame them for society's ills has never come to any good - ever.

by Tim Watkin on August 25, 2015
Tim Watkin

OK, I'm more at ease with what you say there and agree that it's more than just those two poles of supply and demand influencing house prices. I thought your point was, still, that given it's about more than just demand and supply, the Left shouldn't raise demand (ie immigration) as an issue.

I don't disagree with your arguments in favour of immigration, but given the very high levels by historical standards and the political opportunities that presents, it'd be an odd opposition that didn't raise it. I think you can raise it as a political issue and even argue it should be cut from an economic, infrastructural and even cultural position without being xenophobic.

In principle, I think we need a bigger population, but our lack of readiness for immigrants gives me pause. And I certainly think the concentration of immigrants in Auckland is creating some problems, including in housing. (But opportunities as well).

You say demand is just a small part of the housing problem. Thing is, all of the problems with housing are just small parts. That doesn't mean we shouldn't act. It looks to me as if getting prices to plateau will mean action on many fronts – supply, demand, wages, house size, taxes, action on speculators, transport links, construction materials and I'm sure more besides.

by Murray Grimwood on August 26, 2015
Murray Grimwood

Tim

"In principle, I think we need a bigger population",

While we are all entitled to opinions - wishful thinking included - good reporting has always had the word 'investigative' attached.

Growth is no answer to anything, and I've given enough links hereabouts that an investigative effort would have convinced the investigator of this.

The question of growth is always 'and then what?'. The question is repeated, at every exponentially-increasing move. Obviously it stops, and obviously the best time to stop is when you're least overshot.

What journalism seems to lack in this country (actually, almost everywhere) is the ability to investigate, to then weight items in proportion, and to divest themselves of personal wishes before putting pen to paper.

How many folk could NZ support in a long-term sustainable manner, beyond fossil fuels? If you don't ask, investigate then answer that one, how can you make your comment?

by Peggy Klimenko on August 27, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@ Murray Grimwood: "What journalism seems to lack in this country (actually, almost everywhere) is the ability to investigate, to then weight items in proportion, and to divest themselves of personal wishes before putting pen to paper."

Perhaps it's as much as anything down to a lack of resources: the unwillingness or inability of editors to allow journalists the time and funding to pursue issues to the extent that at least some would like.

On the other hand, there are the news bosses who don't see the need for that stuff. On Sunday's RNZ Media Watch - in the context of a discussion about journalists' political leanings -  I heard a 2007 interview with Bill Francis, former GM of Newstalk ZB. He preferred right-wing radio hosts, because, for talkback shows, they can cut to the heart of an issue, whereas left-wingers wanted to explore every aspect.

And of course, the devil, as the saying goes, lies in the detail. Exploration of "every aspect" frequently reveals the unworkability of a proposition which looked like a great idea when viewed through the "cut to the chase" lens. We can't be having that, can we? Especially on talkback, which doesn't admit of nuanced debate, but does aim to be influential in shaping public opinion.

"Our immigration settings are pretty much on the right track; we ask ‘what does New Zealand need?’ not ‘who wants to come here?’. Our immigration staff go out and actively recruit people for high skilled jobs. They don’t just want people to fill jobs, they want people who create jobs; investors, entrepreneurs who want to work and live here."

This paragraph sums up almost everything that worries me about this post. It combines an instrumental view of immigration with a sort of sunny, Pollyanna-ishness. There isn't any questioning of policy: who says the settings are right? In virtue of what should we be taking people we think we need, rather than those who want to come here? How many more immigrants can we accommodate without deleterious consequences, both to the physical and the cultural environment?

Right now, we're watching a desperate flood of refugees into Europe. Germany has heroically taken a disproportionate number of them, despite not having been involved in the conflicts that occasioned their flight in the first place. Ought we to abandon instrumentality at this point and take our fair share? Or even more.... NZ did this after WW2, after all - as we in this household know very well - and those refugees weren't chosen for the skills and entrepreneurship they might bring. And on the bright side, refugees wouldn't be buying houses in Auckland.

"Shamubeel Eaqub's 'F bomb' on Q&A this morning (he said Winston Peter’s should stop scaremongering about immigration and ‘get @X!# real’) reveals the frustration of this polite, well-spoken economist at the stupidly around the immigration debate in New Zealand." 

This illustrates my other concern: the underlying normativeness in this post. Much as proponents might wish it were otherwise, not all of the public is tolerant of immigrants, especially not in large numbers, and it doesn't help change attitudes to lecture people about it. Peters is speaking to a constituency, and by no means all of them are older. However, opponents of immigration might possibly be persuaded to accept refugees; but there would need to be moral leadership from the top. The most recent example is when Helen Clark took Tampa refugees.

"What they don’t do is trade on people’s fear of immigration or make lists of people with ethnic sounding names and blame them for a housing crisis."

Who is doing this? I haven't seen anything of it. I didn't see the Brash interview: are you saying that this is what he's doing, or is it Peters?

by Murray Grimwood on August 27, 2015
Murray Grimwood

I like it when you get a comment which makes better sense than the original piece  :)

Clark ws interviewed yesterday (Nine to Noon) and failed to address the big picture. Ryan didn't drop the ball because she faied to pick it up. The big-picture question now are planetary limits, energy underwrite, overpopulation/consumption, and how they are driving everything else.

Refugees and higher 'valuation' of existing items (houses for instance, which folk like me see as representing 'embedded energy') are repersuccions, not causes.

Your comment about the working media is spot-on, but that doesn't excuse the dogged avoidance demonstrated by those who have the time to blog, and who presume to comment. Funny old world, it's like watching a slow-motion train wreck while the PA witters on about the merits of dining-car delicacies.

Refugees will be an exponentially-increasing problem everywhere, but the discussion is hamstrung by the initial problem that most folk don't understand exponential and don't think big or long-term. At the base-line, there are arguably 5 billion too many on this planet long-term, and Mother Nature will deal with that if we don't.

Meanwhile Air NZ is 'taking off' on Morning Report. Great weighting.....

by Murray Grimwood on August 27, 2015
Murray Grimwood

This site needs an edit function - :)

by Katharine Moody on August 27, 2015
Katharine Moody

Here's the commentary on the show from the ex-RBNZ economist who conducted the original analyses that started the conversation;

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/24/qa-on-immigration/

He provides the likeliest explanation I've seen for the NZIER economist's childish outburst;

the expletive perhaps being a substitute for a missing substantive argument?

It really was a very unenlightened panel - got the feeling none of them were really on top of the data/analyses contained in the articles they were (supposed to be) talking about here;

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/18/skills-based-immigration-who-has-got-essential-skills-work-visas/

We are importing essential skills - yeah right.

And here:

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/21/big-countries-dont-seem-to-have-...

Our immigration policy lifts per capita GDP - yeah right.


by Tim Watkin on August 27, 2015
Tim Watkin

Wow, Murray perhaps you could share your opinion without being quite so patronising? It doesn't go down well on this site. We're all intelligent people who can disagree without talking down.

Surely you don't really think that because you have put a few links "hereabouts" that you've arrived at the final word on the subject and we must all agree with your conclusion? If so, here are a couple of links that offer a view in favour of more immigration.

http://nzier.org.nz/static/media/filer_public/7f/5a/7f5a9e43-1128-449e-8...

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1084...

Does that make me an expert and mean your views are invalid? Of course not. Intelligent people can come to different conclusions, but please don't dismiss other's views and I'd urge you not to get on your high horse about what journalism should be. Unless of course you've tried it yourself and know what you're talking about?

I was banging out a quick a opinion on my own website, not offering a piece of journalism. I'd like to think the difference was obvious. And I didn't say growth was the answer to everything. And I didn't talk about scale at all.

If you're writing to tell people that you know better, I'd be wary of sentences such as "obviously the best time to stop is when you're least overshot". Isn't it a meaningless phrase? That could be any number on a huge spectrum. And I'd argue there's nothing obvious to suggest that the optimum population – if there is such a thing – is "when you're least overshot". Perhaps it's when you're 10 percent more or less.

Yes, asking how many we can sustain is obviously a good question. We might ask how many people we could help by taking them out of poverty elsewhere and how many people we could feed more cheaply and sustainably than other countries. And how many refugees we should take. And how an optimum domestic market might be for our exporters. Are you open to answers that don't fit your "personal wishes"?

by Tim Watkin on August 27, 2015
Tim Watkin

Peggy, I'm worried that you think talkback is journalism. It uses the fabric of journalism and cuts from the same cloth. It's inhabited by some hosts who are journalists and some who are not. It's a member of the wider news family. It includes interviews which cover the news and current affairs and sometimes contributes to journalism, but almost always from someone with a transparent agenda and a commercial mandate to provoke and win listeners with varying degrees of controversy. It's a valve and a window.

It's many things, some of them healthy. But talkback is not journalism.

And Katharine, I take from your comments you disagreed with the panellists and side more with the blogger. All good. But I can tell you without a doubt that you'd struggle  to find an expert with a deeper understanding of immigration than Paul Spoonley. And while I don't entirely agree with Shamubeel on this, if you know anything about him you'll know it's preposterous to suggest he's not on top of the data and analysis on this. He eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Disagree all you like, but don't be under any illusion that those men aren't amongst the best read in the country on this matter (and have given it the most thought).

by Peggy Klimenko on August 28, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@Murray Grimwood: "Refugees and higher 'valuation' of existing items (houses for instance, which folk like me see as representing 'embedded energy') are repersuccions, not causes."

Yes, you're right. My comment about refugees not buying houses was a bit flippant and throwaway....but driven partly by irritation, I admit.

".....that doesn't excuse the dogged avoidance demonstrated by those who have the time to blog, and who presume to comment."

I completely agree. I've long given up on the MSM's ability to give its audience more than a superficial account of complex and important issues. But I expect better of bloggers. I'm not an economist, but if citizens like me are looking sceptically at our immigration policy, I'm surprised that commentators here and elsewhere in the blogs aren't doing the same. AND, asking what immigration policy should look like.

@ Katharine Moody: thanks for those links. I'm much clearer now on the provenance of Josie's post. That information on immigrant skills and their effect on GDP makes sense, because it chimes with what we see around us. It's good to see that Dr Brash is using it to challenge accepted wisdom on the benefits of immigration.

The account of the Q&A programme suggests that Eaqub has a dog in the race, so to speak, and therefore isn't able to proffer dispassionate commentary. Which isn't helpful in panel programmes of this sort.

I wonder about the family reunification programme; does this policy have its roots in 19th and mid-20th century assisted migration schemes, and has persisted because of a sort of policy inertia? It's a bit hard to explain otherwise: I've not heard that other countries offer such a scheme, though maybe some do.

Given all the above, perhaps we should abandon the immigration policy as it now stands, and instead take many more of the desperate refugees who've fled unsupportable situations in their own countries. We probably wouldn't be any worse off than we are now, and it would at least be a humane thing to do.

by Peggy Klimenko on August 28, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@Tim Watkin: " I'm worried that you think talkback is journalism."

Good lord! I didn't say that's what I thought. I was quoting Media Watch, which was looking at the issue of journalists' political leanings. I don't listen to talkback. Ever. Life is much too short to waste any of it on schlock of that sort. I do hear about it from those who listen, but that's as close as I want to get.

However, it's indisputable that many journalists go to talkback, even if what they do there isn't journalism. Though they may think otherwise, of course. And I don't doubt that much of their audience thinks of them as journalists.

by Murray Grimwood on August 28, 2015
Murray Grimwood

Tim - shoot the messenger by denigration, then avoid a truth - a fact - by hiding behind opinion vs opinion ?

It's not the intelligence, it's how it's used. We are a society which is using a finite planet at an increasingly unsustainable rate.Money doesn't come into that.

"Yes, asking how many we can sustain is obviously a good question. We might ask how many people we could help by taking them out of poverty elsewhere and how many people we could feed more cheaply and sustainably than other countries. And how many refugees we should take. And how an optimum domestic market might be for our exporters".

So help me, how many assumptions in there?

Firstly, what is poverty? I suggest it's the inability to acquire processed parts of the planet - when did you last question what it is? Feed more cheaply? We are undervaluing all aspects of food production now - soil degradation, aquifer depletion, fossil fuel depletion, pollution. We probably can't 'afford' sustainable food, certainly not for more than 2 billion or so. Cheaper? When did you last ask what that meant? 'And sustainably'? No commercial food production is sustainable - When did you lask question what sustainabity is? Refugees? Good question. Ex fossil fuel input, I suggest none. The Maori had a post-battle source of protein which might tell you the long-term supportable NZ population, post Moa. Sorry, I don't understand the 'optimum market' bit :)

It's all a matter of resources, whether finite or renewable, and then it's a matter of 'per head'. So my 'overshoot' comment stands. That's not condescending, arrogant, or anything emotional. It's just how it is.

by Murray Grimwood on August 28, 2015
Murray Grimwood

For anyone confused about what I'm saying above, here's is a clear little piece which sums it up nicely:

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-08-27/deflationary-collapse-ahead

A couple of excerpts:

  1. The big thing that is happening is that the world financial system is likely to collapse. Back in 2008, the world financial system almost collapsed. This time, our chances of avoiding collapse are very slim.
  2. A big part of our problem is too much debt. This is hard to fix, because reducing debt reduces demand and makes commodity prices fall further. With low prices, production of commodities is likely to fall. For example, food production using fossil fuel inputs is likely to greatly decline over time, as is oil, gas, and coal production.

     The graphs are thought-provoking.

    We are headed for interesting times - whether we choose to investigate, report or discuss them.

by Katharine Moody on August 28, 2015
Katharine Moody

@Tim

Disagree all you like, but don't be under any illusion that those men aren't amongst the best read in the country on this matter (and have given it the most thought).

I totally agree. Which is why I found it so frustrating that neither of them seemed to want to address the data/analyses from Reddell directly. My interpretation of both was 'we've studied it - we're experts - trust us - we know NZ's immigration policy is good'. I'd have preferred more facts/figures and alternative proposals - as opposed to the line that the status quo works. Traffic congestion, housing unaffordability and unaffordability of needed infrastructure in Auckland alone seems to support the "population growth is a problem" theory. And perhaps most importantly, is Reddell's analysis regarding productivity - and that such growth has not/does not improve our productivity (might even hinder it). Which is why I liked Reddell's explanation for Shamubeel's outburst. It was pretty unbelievable and uncharacteristic. Either he truly, truly dislikes Winston Peters in a very personal way (a bit like M Hooten who called also got out of control with Winston on Face-to-Face once and called him the "c" word) or Shamubeel has a personal 'skin in the game' thing about that specific policy OR (as Reddell suggests) he had just run out of steam on trying to make any substantive arguments (having read in full Reddell's analysis) and just lost the plot. Having work in central government, I am well aware of the $$$ NZIER earns regarding consultancy contracts with government. It worried me that he might be somewhat under pressure for this reason - which would be a real disappointment.

@Murray

Great to see you here - always enjoyed your posts on interest.co.nz some time ago.

Given all the above, perhaps we should abandon the immigration policy as it now stands, and instead take many more of the desperate refugees who've fled unsupportable situations in their own countries. We probably wouldn't be any worse off than we are now, and it would at least be a humane thing to do.

I would be very much in favour of this type of overhaul. Tighten up the skills category to highly qualified professional categories (surgeons and other health professionals, food/water/oceans etc.sciences and other research orientated folks - people who can drive sustainability research/initiatives); dump all the other categories altogether and replace those numbers with a huge boost to the genuine refugees we take in.

Scrap the student work visa programme altogether - student only visas and be clear to these students that the list of those that might be able to apply for PR on completion of study are those studying in those very highly specialised categories as above.

We very much need to prepare ourselves for the inevitable need to be largely self-sufficient in future. We have to be able to grow, build, manufacture and maintain what we are going to need in future locally. Take antibiotics, for example, and asthma or diabetes treatment/medications - can we produce those here? If not, we'll need to going forward.

by Peggy Klimenko on August 30, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@ Tim Watkin: "... it's preposterous to suggest he's not on top of the data and analysis on this."

It isn't if that's how a commentator comes across on an interview panel. The audience judges by what it sees and hears. I didn't see this programme, but I've read Michael Reddell's commentary; that's the impression I got as well.

"He eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Disagree all you like, but don't be under any illusion that those men aren't amongst the best read in the country on this matter (and have given it the most thought)."

This may well be so, but it doesn't at all follow that others cannot criticise them and challenge their viewpoint. Even acknowledged experts (some might say, especially acknowledged experts) can fail to be up-to-date with the latest research in their field. Or they can be unwilling to accept new research if it conflicts with their own work or their established perspective. That's what I had in mind when I suggested that Eaqub has a dog in the race. That kind of perceived bias has to be challenged.

@ Katharine Moody: "Tighten up the skills category to highly qualified professional categories (surgeons and other health professionals, food/water/oceans etc.sciences and other research orientated folks - people who can drive sustainability research/initiatives); dump all the other categories altogether..."

I completely agree. Reading the "Essential Skills" list, I was simply astonished. It looks very much as if MBIE is letting any old body in and giving them a visa if they've got any old job. Or there's some kind of rort going on: in virtue of what would it be the case that employers can't find NZ citizens to fill supermarket shelves and be checkout operators? That isn't skilled work - no offence to those who do it. And I doubt citizens in general would think of jobs like that when they think about skilled migrants.

"Scrap the student work visa programme altogether - student only visas and be clear to these students that the list of those that might be able to apply for PR on completion of study are those studying in those very highly specialised categories as above."

I agree with this as well. A necessary part of large-scale reform in the immigration area.

@ Murray Grimwood: " Refugees? Good question. Ex fossil fuel input, I suggest none."

Given the current refugee quota, I think that what you suggest is more or less what'll happen here; we take so few now, it might as well be none. However, I'd prefer that we did as Katharine Moody suggests above: dump the current "Essential Skills" list and replace those people with refugees. We likely won't be worse off, and it's a humane strategy. And refugees can fill supermarket shelves and the like...

 

by Murray Grimwood on August 31, 2015
Murray Grimwood

It's probably worth remembering that fossil fuels stock those supermarket shelves.

We have lost the plot, societal-discussion-wise. Economists have taken the place of priests, and all the believers have swallowed the bit about energy being 5% (or whatever) of 'the whole economy'.

That is nonsense; without FF, there  is no tourism, no dairy, no trading - they are 100% of the underwrite.

Nobody seems to understand that the just-in-time global food system is unlikely to be maintainable in a renewable-energy scenario.

We perhaps need to ascertain what might be future-needed skills, too. Local food is my pick.

by Katharine Moody on August 31, 2015
Katharine Moody

A couple of new related posts by Michael Reddell;

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/31/what-occupations-did-our-permane...

and

http://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/28/once-were-international-traders/

Second to last paragraph in the second article very worth thinking about.

 

by Peggy Klimenko on September 02, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@ Murray Grimwood: "It's probably worth remembering that fossil fuels stock those supermarket shelves [.......] Nobody seems to understand that the just-in-time global food system is unlikely to be maintainable in a renewable-energy scenario."

I read the link you posted, and I take the points you're making. Thought-provoking stuff; turmoil headed our way, regardless of whether we're ready for it. But does it mean we ought to do nothing to help refugees right here and now? My family has reason to be grateful for the post-War refugee scheme - as does the Prime Minister, though it's hard to tell - and I'd prefer refugees to low-skill migrants. The government can resettle them just about anywhere in NZ, as they did after the War, and require them to stay for a prescribed period of time where they've been placed; again, as was the case after the War. Many of the post-War refugees did eventually leave their placements, but others didn't. There are descendants of those people all over provincial NZ.

I note the PM's refusal to consider taking any of the refugees pouring into the EU. Is it because he's been getting advice from an official who's read that link? I doubt that the reasons are so principled, somehow.

@ Katharine Moody: many thanks for those links. Interesting reading, and further evidence in support of a rethink of our "skilled" migration scheme.

by Murray Grimwood on September 02, 2015
Murray Grimwood

At the end of WW2, there were 2.5 billion people. Most of the fossil fuel resource was ahead of them/us.

The problem now is that the more you take, the more will appear. That's what happens with 5 billion more, and every resource depleted in the meantime.

The answer is 'sorry, this lifeboat's full given the freeboard and the storm ahead'.

Unless, of course, you're volunteering to be Soylent Green       :)

As for skills - you might have a point there; most of ours will be varying degrees of irrelevant.

by Charlie on September 02, 2015
Charlie

The only place where there's a housing shortage & price escalation is Auckland. So it's an Auckland problem rather than a national one.

With Auckland's population growing we have two options: Either ease the consent rules and allow growth upward in the form of multi storey dwelling or move the town's boundaries. Or do both to a lesser degree.

It's not really that hard to figure out is it? Then we'd just need a competent council to make the changes.

Maybe next year...

 

 

 

 

 

by Tim Watkin on September 02, 2015
Tim Watkin

Murray, your point of view is not "fact" however many times you say it. Claiming you know the truth and anyone who disagrees is plain wrong is pretty much the definition of arrogant, I reckon."Overshoot" is still meaningless. And you can dance on the head of a pin about what poverty means or how to measure the cost of food production, or you can take the best analysis available and get on with saving lives.

If you apply your argument to refugees, then people will continue to die while you have your debate about whether, say, Syrian refugees meet your definition of poverty. Given your global population estimate of 2 billion and your argument that even a country like NZ is maxed out, perhaps that's what you want?

Because unless you're arguing that we should kill off chunks of the world's population – or just leave them to their fate – developed countries like ours need to be willing to grow our population. We have the capacity to take more people with less environmental damage than many other countries; you can argue how much damage to the tenth decimal or you can look at our temperate climate, space, relative wealth, renewable energy and more.

by Peggy Klimenko on September 03, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@ Murray Grimwood: "The answer is 'sorry, this lifeboat's full given the freeboard and the storm ahead'.

Unless, of course, you're volunteering to be Soylent Green..."

Sigh...intellectually, I know that you're right. But bleak times in the Hardin lifeboat, even so.

Soylent Green: good grief, I'd quite forgotten about that! The planet inches ever closer to that dystopian future, where science fiction morphs into reality. Harry Harrison, he of the Stainless Steel Rat fame. Thanks for  reminding me. I think...

 

by Peggy Klimenko on September 03, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

@ Tim Watkin: "Because unless you're arguing that we should kill off chunks of the world's population – or just leave them to their fate – developed countries like ours need to be willing to grow our population. We have the capacity to take more people with less environmental damage than many other countries; you can argue how much damage to the tenth decimal or you can look at our temperate climate, space, relative wealth, renewable energy and more."

The issue Murray's pointing to is that the world is slap up against the limits of a finite planet, with resource depletion crimping what we're able to do for others. Nobody would suggest that we here could take all - or even a meaningful chunk - of the refugees flooding into Europe. But the environment humanity's hurtling into likely won't admit of us being able to look after even ourselves, let alone a sizeable number of refugees. It isn't a case of killing people or allowing them to starve: it's that we won't be able to prevent it happening, no matter how much we wish to help.

My preferred position - all other things being equal - would be to scrap the so-called "skilled" migrant and family reunification programme, and take an equivalent number of refugees. I have personal reasons for favouring such a strategy. But all other things aren't equal, as Murray's pointed out. It's a bleak prospect, but there it is.

by Murray Grimwood on September 03, 2015
Murray Grimwood

Tim Watkin - bollocks. Sorry, but that what it is. And avoiding it via messenger-denigration - particularly when it's in lieu of investigation - is surely not good journalism.

We are energy-requiring beings, Tim. Try not eating and not filling your tank. See how you get on. Then try stuffing dollar notes into both. Did it help? Shucks. Maybe it's a fact. Come on, this is the debate which needs to be had; yesterday.

Our country is using all its 'renewable' energy (a glib description, for another day) now.

Arguing 'perhaps that's what you want?' - is also denigrating the messenger. My partner and I chose to limit our progeny to two, and did so 30 years ago. Don't ever blame the messenger. We are indeed in a bind of grotesque proportions. NZ - Ex fossil-fuel input (do your homework, only our electricity has renewable content, and only 80% at that) we might just be able to feed 4 million, but it'd be a stretch on a war-time footing. Why do you think the Maori didn't grow to huge numbers? Why have the Eskimo never developed cities?

We have a Tragedy of the Commons problem now - save ourselves of attempt to save others. There is an exponentially-increasing number of the latter, so you have to close the door at some point. We are better off here, if that point is now.

Relative wealth? Actually, we're in private fiscal debt, collective fiscal debt, and - more importantly - in Natural Capital debt. You haven't read through those links I gave you. Perhapsyou should ask yourself why?

PK - thank you; brought a smile, did that  :) There are surprisingly few of us and even if we did have the discussion in NZ, the global community won't.

http://www.overshootday.org/

Go well

 

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