The polarised immigration debate | The Jackal

19 Jul 2017

The polarised immigration debate

The immigration debate has become badly polarised and you can understand why. On one side we have NZ First because it’s a vote winner and Labour because of their social conscience both wanting to reduce the number of immigrants coming into New Zealand.

On the other we have the Act party, Maori party and National all wanting to maintain or increase the flow of migrants into New Zealand to grow the economy. The Greens now appear to be sitting on the fence.

It’s true that migrants aren’t to blame for the lack of proper infrastructure that would allow them to better integrate without displacing New Zealanders. However that argument doesn’t help the current situation much, whereby wages are being kept artificially low through increased competition and housing is becoming more unaffordable for the same reason.

With the resources it has, New Zealand really shouldn’t be in a situation where we are struggling to look after the current population. That is where the priority should lie and why we should in the short-term look to set a limit. New Zealand simply cannot presently maintain a free-market approach to immigration on a global scale.

Claiming that such a view is “xenophobic and divisive” or that the people expressing it have “irrational fears” and that New Zealanders are “useless and don’t work hard enough” isn’t an argument based in reality. It’s an unconsidered reaction by people with very little intellectual ability or concern for New Zealanders.

When we have stories about migrant kiwifruit workers being taken for a ride, is it any wonder that such underhanded businesses cannot find enough Kiwi’s to fill those positions?

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Kiwifruit industry sting reveals workers ripped off

More than half the employers did not meet all minimum employment standards, including things such as providing employment agreements and paying the minimum wage.

Some employers were able to immediately address the breaches but 20 improvement notices and six enforceable undertakings were issued.

Two employers were issued with an infringement notice in addition to their improvement notice for $1000 each.

"There are no acceptable excuses for employers failing to meet all minimum standards or provide people with all their minimum entitlements," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan.

"Almost all of the employers found in breach were using migrant labour, which is concerning because these are vulnerable people who may not fully know their rights and entitlements. Significant arrears were uncovered with one employer owing more than $25,000 to their employees, and it's likely the lack of records is disguising more widespread non-compliance with minimum wage.

If the highly profitable kiwifruit industry were paying proper wages, they would be able to find enough Kiwi’s to fill those jobs. They would also find that local people work just as hard as migrants, who generally speaking also have very good work ethics. Immigration for the sake of increasing the profits of certain businesses is clearly a flawed argument.

Of course there are benefits to having a good number of immigrants settling in New Zealand and the diversified culture they bring, of that there is no question. But there are also negative consequences of having too many people competing for the same resources. Housing and low wages are two serious and long-term problems in New Zealand that will need time and considerable policy across the board to remedy.

It’s unfortunate to see that certain vested interests have entrenched themselves in unmovable positions and the issue has become somewhat of a political football. Confusing immigrants with refugees or asylum seekers and throwing baseless insults around isn’t going to progress the debate at all. But I guess that was never the intention of some of our biased politicians.