Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Fine Line

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  • Russell Brown,

    I think the Brash statement I linked to above warrants an excerpt here:

    Brash announces immigration policy

    National Party Leader Don Brash says immigrants will be put on probation for four years under a National Government and will have to meet good-conduct requirements to gain permanent residency.

    Announcing National’s immigration policy at a public meeting in Wanganui today, he said it will also be harder for immigrants to qualify for welfare benefits.

    “Current immigration policies, instead of adding diversity, skills and energy to our society, have become a process that is threatening to change the very nature of our society.

    “New Zealand needs an inflow of immigrants if we are to avoid an actual decline in our total population, but Labour’s current policy is not right.

    “There is resentment that too many immigrants, and especially those who arrive as refugees, go straight onto a benefit and live for years at the expense of the hard-working New Zealand taxpayer.

    “There is also resentment that, when we let in one refugee, we then let in his extended family group as well.

    “National’s immigration policy offers a disciplined approach. Labour’s approach is too lax, whilst on the other hand New Zealand First too often appeals to crude prejudice. National’s policy is a responsible middle ground of ‘managed immigration’.

    “And while there is a widespread view that, under Labour, the Immigration Service has allowed into the country too many people who have no respect for New Zealand values, there is also anger at how difficult Labour’s bureaucracy makes it for people who at least appear to be exactly the kind of immigrants we want to encourage.

    “National will change all that."

    Whatever the measure of Labour’s thinking on immigration is, it’s not even in the same ballpark as this kind of naked hostility and dog-whistle racism. Feel free to remind your neighbourhood right-wing blogger.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll,

    It's also likely that Austraia's current economic downturn

    I'm reliably informed the phonetic spelling is "'straya"

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    It should be possible to discuss migration trends without appealing to the worst nature of parts of the electorate and without reflexively being accused of xenophobia the moment the topic is aired.

    And improving the experience for migrants and especially refugees can be part of this conversation. Not to mention deportation when the Associate Minister has difficulty [audio] to explain her decision.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    I love the diversity that immigration has brought to NZ yet am concerned about the ongoing immigration policies and political football it is

    No worries about us allowing more people in, just wonder what the rational is - as in what is the long term goal of immigration from our political parties, is it purely economic?

    At risk of sounding like a knee jerk reactionary, why are we considering taking so many more when we seemingly can't address the growing inequalities and poverty of those already here?

    The Auckland problem is a national one - we have to get the regions working again... creating meaningful and long term sustainable employment outside of Auckland and the larger urban centres... for all of us here

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 309 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Whatever the measure of Labour’s thinking on immigration is, it’s not even in the same ballpark as this kind of naked hostility and dog-whistle racism. Feel free to remind your neighbourhood right-wing blogger.

    Well, fair point as far as it goes. How about we don't set a low bar for anyone in 2014, because we still need a fact-based, careful public policy discussion conducted by adults who think very carefully before they speak on what can so easily turn into racist catnip. Yes, as I sad to you on Twitter, I'm glad Cunliffe's gaffe was the result of carelessness rather than naked bigot fluffing but that doesn't mean we shouldn't expect better.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Gregor Ronald, in reply to bob daktari,

    I heard somewhere recently that immigrants tend to settle and remain in an area after 4 years; they've settled in to work, made friends, kids are in school, other relatives have settled near by. So why not allow immigrants to settle in the regions and bond them to stay there for 5 years? Very few would then migrate to Auckland from the regional towns - but we'll need to have jobs waiting for them of course.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Well, fair point as far as it goes. How about we don’t set a low bar for anyone in 2014, because we still need a fact-based, careful public policy discussion conducted by adults who think very carefully before they speak on what can so easily turn into racist catnip.

    I think it's relevant when Farrar is loudly and repeatedly accusing Labour of xenophobia and Act, which subsequently made Brash its leader, is calling it "racist".

    Yes, as I sad to you on Twitter, I’m glad Cunliffe’s gaffe was the result of carelessness rather than naked bigot fluffing but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect better.

    It wasn't a gaffe, it was a confusing answer. He was asked about a gross policy target and responded with the same answer he's been giving all along on the historically desirable level of annual net immigration. Radio NZ misreported it in its newsbrief and then corrected it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It wasn’t a gaffe, it was a confusing answer.

    I don't think a go-round on the semantics of "gaffe" is particularly helpful, but in my book it would be really helpful to quality debate if the two chaps who'd really like to be leading the next government could clearly and cleanly articulate their respective policies. I'm just freaky that way, and despite all attempts to prove otherwise I know Cunliffe and Key can do it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Or if those who wish to oppose them didn’t willfully mishear and misinterpret.

    See Cunliffe on the Nation or Parker on Q and A as good clear explanations of their policy at this point.

    Suppose I should point out that I haven't heard the NatRad thing, but there has been a lot of good explanation of it since the release of the monetary policy. It's an idea at this stage, the mechanics of it don't seem to have been decided or worked out. Given their innovative monetary policy I don't see why they can't be- though it would be good for immigrants to get clear signals.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Gregor Ronald,

    but we'll need to have jobs waiting for them of course.

    And awful lot of immigrants start their own small businesses. The reasons are not all positive, but the fact is we don't need to "create jobs for them", they do that themselves. The cliche take-away shop and dairy are not all there is to it, either.

    I'd also like to see the refugee intake kept up and out of this discussion (yes, I'm the first to mention it). Especially it could and should be used as a stick to beat Australia with rather than becoming yet another symptom of our sycophancy.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 409 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to martinb,

    It’s an idea at this stage, the mechanics of it don’t seem to have been decided or worked out. Given their innovative monetary policy I don’t see why they can’t be- though it would be good for immigrants to get clear signals.

    Like I said, it began as a one-line suggestion buried in the monetary policy announcement, so it’s going to take some time to turn into a policy, if it does.

    It presumably wouldn’t require legislative change – governments fiddle with immigration targets without having to pass laws – but I think it’s a reasonable criticism that there are factors beyond your control in net migration flows, and they may overwhelm those you can control. When Labour set its 2004-2005 target it presumably didn’t expect that, for example, student visa numbers would drop quite sharply.

    For that reason, I actually don’t think it makes sense for Cunliffe to conjure up a magic number now, no matter how much Guyon Espiner screams at him. It would be stupid to commit to a number now when you don’t know how things will look next year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    I’d also like to see the refugee intake kept up and out of this discussion (yes, I’m the first to mention it). Especially it could and should be used as a stick to beat Australia with rather than becoming yet another symptom of our sycophancy.

    Completely agreed on that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Moz,

    I'd also like to see the refugee intake kept up and out of this discussion (yes, I'm the first to mention it)

    Yep a very different topic, but as the door is ajar - its a subject in which NZ is currently not pulling our weight on, at the least we should be taking the numbers we say we will, plus we've room for a lot more imo

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 309 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Moz,

    I’d also like to see the refugee intake kept up and out of this discussion (yes, I’m the first to mention it). Especially it could and should be used as a stick to beat Australia with rather than becoming yet another symptom of our sycophancy.

    Absolutely. And I'm of the view that if we do somehow get a load of boat people washing up at Raglan or wherever, we should welcome them with open arms. If they've got the gumption to take on that huge a risk and succeed, then they're the kind of entrepreneurial spirits we need, right?

    It's odd, I find myself agreeing with the Nats, and it feels weird, but there does seem to be a lot that is beyond the control of any government. You can't just stop your own citizens coming back or round up unemployed youth and force them onto planes to Australia. I can't help but thinking a little more investment in educating and training our own youth might help cut down the need to import skilled labour, though.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1951 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    I'm waiting for those in power who are crying racism to start playing the Children Overboard card. While Cunliffe really, really needs to sharpen his immigration policy - the least he could do is paint it as a capital controls issue instead of a race issue - cries of xenophobia and racism ring hollow if it's all about migrants with fat wallets. And in before Raymond Huo and Allen Goh get slapped with the 'house Chinaman' label or suchlike for their support of tighter restrictions. In Australia, the "get in and shut the door behind" phenomenon has been observed among well-established Mediterranean and Slavic communities, even some Asian ones apparently.

    Off the top of my head, the housing shortage can be divided into the following factors: on the supply side there's land, metro limits, zoning restrictions, building regulations, materials, and labour. On the demand side there's immigration, urban drift, incomes, and bank lending.

    The elephant in the room on the supply side isn't one of the usual suspects like MULs and bureaucracy, but zoning restrictions due to snobbery. Once again, I cite the scaremongering over proposals to relax zoning restrictions in parts of Auckland, particularly by the supposedly free-market ACT candidate for Epsom and Crs Quax and Brewer. My 2c in that post:

    "I’d say the real reason for the usual suspects’ resistance are twofold, and both involve property prices: snobbery, in wanting to keep the ‘riff raff’ out; and anti-competitive cartel practices, in having a vested interest in the housing bubble. They don’t seem to understand that the vast majority of shoebox apartments have been backed by private equity, junk bonds and/or finance companies (many of which have already gone under) which would be politically inclined to back ACT. It’d be fun to see their reaction if somehow Donald Trump decided to build something sky-high in Auckland, given they want to see the back of the RMA, but will invoke it when it suits them.

    It seems that all private property rights are equal, but some private property rights are more equal than others."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4058 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    On the 'DPF singing a different tune these days' aspect, this was his response to people who said that Brash was blowing a dogwhistle about immigration:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2006/02/orewa_iii.html

    Now read the above again. This is what Judith Tizard claims is “attacking migrants”. How on hell can we have a serious debate about immigration if people like Judith Tizard claim that the above is “attacking migrants”. This is of course Labour arrogance at its very worst – disagree with us and you are a bigot and a racist.

    And as for sanely debating immigration (something NZ First has sadly made even more difficult to do) well anyone who thinks we don’t need to talk about the role of values in immigration is living on a different planet to Europe.

    Apparently something was happening in Europe.

    And on Europe, this from the other day:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/05/ukip_and_french_national_front_storm_european_elections.html

    It is disturbing to see neo-Nazis getting elected in France, Germany, Austria, Greece etc.

    Foment foment foment.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 205 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    To add, my preferred policy is to keep the existing migrant inflows in to NZ, but they’ll need to obtain Permanent Residency or Citizenship if they want to buy a house or otherwise pay for the privilege (making it a form of stamp duty), or lodge a resource consent to build a new one as is the case in Australia (hence a form of greenfields investment).

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4058 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alex Coleman,

    I have a better DPF memory-hole accident.

    Brash’s speech launching the 2005 immigration policy:

    There is resentment that too many immigrants, and especially those who arrive as refugees, go straight onto a benefit, and live for years at the expense of the hard-working New Zealand taxpayer.

    There is resentment that, when we let in one refugee, we then let in his extended family group as well. Like the case of the refugee who brought in his father, mother, two dependent brothers, two dependent sisters, a dependent sister-in-law and her four dependent children!

    There is resentment that some immigrants come into New Zealand for the primary purpose of gaining access to our free education system for their children, with no intention of settling in, or paying tax in, New Zealand for the long haul.

    There is resentment that some immigrants flout the laws protecting our fisheries, and are involved in much more serious crimes of a kind that, to date, New Zealand has been largely free of – kidnapping and extortion for example.

    There is resentment, at least among those wanting to buy their first home, at the impact of immigration on house prices.

    There is fear of Islamist fundamentalism, exacerbated when a Maori convert to Islam expresses admiration for Osama bin Laden and a Muslim (Labour) Member of Parliament contends that the Koran is right to say that adulterers and homosexuals should be stoned to death.

    It is these resentments and these fears that underlie the very real concern many people have about current immigration policy.

    In defence of that long, loud passive-voiced racist dog-whistle, DPF wrote this:

    Russell and others on the left have been using selective quotes to try and portray National’s immigration stance as close to NZ First. I suppose they have to say that.

    I recommend people read Don’s full speech (credit to Russell who links to it). It is very pro-immigration, but anti some of the current policies. And yes you can be one and not the other. Those arguing that are often the same who argued Don was a racist for his Orewa speech.

    The NZ Herald editorial has labelled National’s policy as rational and am improvement on Labour’s knee-jerk reactions and piecemeal change. It does not agree with every aspect but overall is positive.

    I don’t think Brash’s horrible speech actually has any bearing either way on the merits or otherwise of what Labour is suggesting. That should be judged on its substance, or lack of it.

    I just think it’s deeply cynical of DPF and others to be screaming about racism and xenophobia at any mention of immigrant policy when they endorsed that policy and that speech.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I just think it’s deeply cynical of DPF and others to be screaming about racism and xenophobia at any mention of immigrant policy when they endorsed that policy and that speech.

    Politics is the art of "creating reality". Just, y'know, not that real sort of reality.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    OK, fine for the first boat. What if there is another?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    careful public policy discussion conducted by adults who think very carefully before they speak

    jeez Craig you don't half expect much do you.

    But yeah. I'd also like to see some sensible discussion of the rather simplistic argument for needing the population to continue to grow. It's all very well to rely on increasing population to increase demand and hence drive growth. But at some point you run out of places to put people.

    It would be nice to see some effort put into developing an economy that can grow with a static population. With such an underlying economy then you should get a extra bonus from immigration both in terms of diversity and in economic growth. However, as far as I can tell such real economic growth is too hard for our leaders.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3217 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    the rather simplistic argument for needing the population to continue to grow.

    This. It's a dumb-simple fact that the growth addicted global economy has all-too-often 'grown' just as a consequence of more people. It's not nuts (or racist, thanks) to suggest we look at policy as that promotes growing something other than GDP- the average quality of life, for example.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Tinakori,

    What if there is another?

    I very much doubt there will be one, let alone another. Here's why: The standard MO seems to be to set out from Indonesia aiming for mainland Australia. So if we start there, but aim for NZ, then the boat can either sail along the north coast of Aus, through Torres Strait, thence south aiming for Northland. Either that or head south down the west side of Aus then hang a left and ride the prevailing westerlies and aim to make landfall somewhere north of Fiordland. Either way you're running the gauntlet of RAN and Aus Customs patrols, and the longer you're at sea the greater your chances of being spotted. Also, given the standard MO seems to be crowding as many refugees as you can fit onto rickety, unseaworthy boats, many of which capsize or sink between Aus and Indonesia, aiming for NZ means either investing the time and money finding and crewing a boat with a reasonable chance of arriving, which would probably set off some alarm bells in the intelligence community, or setting out to sea knowing you're almost certainly going to drown.

    The other options would be to sail around the north side of Melanesia, which still adds distance and the higher chances of sinking or being seen, or westwards back across the Indian Ocean against the prevailing winds around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn aiming for NZ's east coast. Why on Earth would anybody bother doing that?

    So yeah, if any boat people do make it, welcome them.

    Slightly more seriously: Do we really want to copy Aus's policies and lock them up in camps? With all the breaches of international law and human rights abuses that have been documented? No, thanks.

    Besides, don't Australia's own stats show that most "queue-jumping" refugees arrive by plane rather than boat? Doesn't that show up all this "OMG! The boat people are coming!" nonsense for what it really is?

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1951 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I can't help but thinking a little more investment in educating and training our own youth might help cut down the need to import skilled labour, though.

    Yes but where will National find the cash they get from dodgy immigrants if they go down the education path. It could be years before that pays off for them and a long game is just a bit too risky for National. You'll be wanting them to come up with realistic long term strategies next.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Besides, don’t Australia’s own stats show that most “queue-jumping” refugees arrive by plane rather than boat?

    Chris , doesnt matter if you arrive by plane and cannot be returned immediately, you are still locked up. There is a detention camp at Villawood in the suburbs of Sydney, amoung others.

    The latest numbers from Australian immigration show last year 20,019 humanitarian visas were granted. NZs number is around 750, which indicates they are taking 5 times the number NZ is , in proportion to population. Some of those were 'queue jumpers'



    You are aware of course, that North Asian countries, like where you are resident have non existent refugee programs

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 204 posts Report Reply

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