Election 2017: Immigration

The kiwifruit industry is a key employer of migrant labour in the Western Bay.

Immigration has been a hot topic in recent months, with new migrants accused of contributing towards both the housing crisis and low wages.

Net migration to New Zealand surpassed 70,000 last year, with pressure now starting to be felt on infrastructure, schools and hospitals.

In January, Massey University Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley told The Weekend Sun nearly all of New Zealand's population growth is going to occur in the top half of the North Island.

He also says since 2012, two-thirds of our population growth has come from immigration. “And we do need to be aware that immigration is where we get our people from,” says Paul.

He uses Auckland as an example of a city that has done “a very poor job of providing infrastructure for growth.”

The local kiwifruit sector also relies heavily on seasonal workers, of which a significant number are migrant labourers.

They can often be targets of exploitation, as a Labour Inspectorate operation found earlier this year.

Inspectors carried out audits on 62 labour contracting companies and interviewed 687 employees during the operation which occurred over three months last year, ultimately uncovering 94 breaches of minimum employment standards.

The operation showed 53 per cent of employers were failing to meet all minimum employment standards, such as providing employment agreements and paying at least the minimum wage.

“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,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan.

The Weekend Sun asked local candidates for their thoughts on immigration and how their party would tackle the issue.

Todd Muller – National

Migrants make a valuable contribution to New Zealand and the Bay of Plenty, both culturally and economically. New Zealand's economic success is built on our openness to new ideas, our welcoming of talented individuals with skills and experience, and making sure our businesses have access to new and emerging markets. The government is committed to striking the right balance between ensuring New Zealanders are able to find jobs and ensuring our regions have access to temporary migrant labour necessary for sustained economic growth. Immigration is vital for filling labour shortages for industries such as horticulture here in the Bay. We want these industries to be able to grow, which is why employers will continue to be able to hire migrant labour if they can prove there are no New Zealanders available to do the job. Slashing immigration by ‘tens of thousands' as opposition parties propose would put our primary industries and small to medium-sized businesses under immense pressure.

Todd is standing in Bay of Plenty.

Tamati Coffey – Labour

Labour loves the idea of Kiwis working in Kiwi jobs. What we need here in the Bay is to empower Kiwis to retrain so they can meet the needs of our changing work environment, which is why Labour is offering three years free tertiary study so that our workers can get the skills needed to do our jobs and help us lower the insane amount of net immigration, which at the moment is far too high. Labour supports a strong Bay economy so we won't touch RSE as it's vital to the success of our kiwifruit industry. A vote for Labour will stop the crazy open door policy of the past nine years. What will change are some of the details in Skilled Visas to make sure that those people who are migrating here have the best chance of fitting in with their new Kiwi communities.

Tamati is standing in Waiariki.

Clayton Mitchell – NZ First

I think it's pretty obvious to everyone we can't bring in an extra 73,000 people – more than the population of Rotorua – every year, without building an extra ‘Rotorua' to cope. Rotorua has two hospitals, 12 schools, and numerous houses, businesses, and other infrastructure resources that we aren't adding along with our hyper-immigration influx. New Zealand First is pro-immigration of people we need, not people who need us. Those who can add value to our economy must of course be prepared to respect our laws, our culture, and our flag.

Low-skilled migrant workers who come here under the RSE visa scheme to pick kiwifruit come for a season and then head home afterwards. They are providing a service with clear parameters, and a clear departure date, so that seems to fit with our policies of bringing in people we need – as long as New Zealand workers and their wages are protected.

Clayton is standing in Tauranga.

Emma-Leigh Hodge – Greens

Currently there is a trend toward scapegoating immigrants, and while it may be convenient to blame our housing crisis and the like on immigration, this is lazy politics. Politicians have a duty to be bold and fix the underlying issues in our society, not just blame others for them. We know immigration, handled sustainably and in an inclusive (not assimilative) way, is good for Aotearoa. Treating immigrants respectfully, and working in partnership with local communities and tangata whenua to create a well-functioning diverse society is at the core of the Green's policy.

The Bay attracts many temporary migrant workers and the Green Party would grant these workers full labour rights to ensure adequate working conditions, fair pay, and access to essential services. As always, the Green Party is committed to regular, evidence-based reviews of the government's immigration policies to ensure these continue to meet the needs of all our communities.

Emma-Leigh is standing in Tauranga.

Stuart Pedersen – ACT

ACT welcomes immigrants but immigration should not be used to drive economic growth, as only improving productivity will make Kiwis better off.

There is no ‘right number' for immigration. What matters is to get the rules right. ACT successfully advocated that national superannuation not be paid until an immigrant has been here for 20 years. And ACT believes that all migrants should commit to a Kiwi Values statement.

The fact is, recruiting overseas is a costly, risky, last resort. So when businesses need immigrant workers, ACT will never stand in the way. Rather than bureaucrats picking sectors with shortages, ACT will look at wage data and favour sectors where pay rates are rising fast.

Ethnic and cultural diversity is great for our community. Rather than demand assimilation we should invite it by being welcoming and hospitable. The first generation may face language and cultural headwinds, so we should be patient.

Stuart is standing in Tauranga.

Rusty Kane – Independent

Immigration has played an important part in shaping New Zealand. But we are suffering from our own success. The country's population grew by 100,400 in the year to June. Net migration of 72,400 people contributed to this increase. Most migrants arrived on short-term work and student visas; many needed for the dairy, horticulture and restaurant industries. Immigration numbers also puts demands on the country's services and infrastructure and low-skilled migrants help to suppress wages. We are now past the point where the unchecked high immigration numbers have become unsustainable for the country to absorb, to a point where we need to reduce net immigration. Immigration is of little economic benefit to New Zealanders in terms of raising our standard of living, especially if it is used as an alternative to policies such as upskilling the labour force and if we do not build the infrastructure that the expanding population and economy needs.

Rusty is standing in Tauranga.



15 Comments

@Maildrop

Posted on 04-09-2017 16:40 | By Papamoaner

Agree with you about the rugby. But "good stock"? Bloody hell, there you go again. Good stock my arse. Small countries with vastly differing dialects and heavy accents reflect travel-less parochialism and the in-breeding issues it causes. Same problem with farm animals. Natural!

That's funny

Posted on 04-09-2017 15:39 | By maildrop

Like the Bren gun thing. Did we really do that? Gullible fools. Not sure why Poms would be bitter towards Kiwis? The other way round more like. We were well shot of the empire if you ask me. And most of those countries have gone backwards. Not sure you've given that much to the world. Rutherford came from good stock and only excelled when he went to Cambridge under some proper tutelage. That bloke went up a mountain. You're good at smashing into each other whilst chasing an odd shaped ball, I'll give you that. I'm struggling now, what else....beating up er indoors....wreckless driving....asking foreigners how much they like Kiwiland.

Bingo! Colours revealed!

Posted on 04-09-2017 12:54 | By Papamoaner

Arrogant poms viewing Kiwis down their snooty noses at our pride in our nation, always the snide remark accusing us of "asking visitors what they think of NZ" is a worn out old pommy whinge that reveals an underlying bitterness. We've done exceptionally well over the decades in terms of exploration, inventing, technology, nuclear physics, tangible assistance to war-torn nations, all with a population less than the size of Sydney. Poms admittedly produce the best comedy, but if you have a beer in Ireland you'll find they are quick to remind you that the best humour and comedy the poms produce, was plageurised from the Irish. Hell, that being the case, doesn't leave much does it! Integrity? Selling Bren Guns to both sides of the Pakistan war all those decades ago wasn't a good look. Some of us have very long memories.

Oohh the insecurity

Posted on 04-09-2017 10:23 | By maildrop

You didn't mention the Queen, Guy Fawkes or the Empire. Very disappointed. Still, at least you have the All Blacks. I bet you kept asking people if they'd been to Kiwiland......followed by what they thought of it?

@Maildrop`

Posted on 03-09-2017 17:09 | By Papamoaner

I always knew it! It's the nostrils you know. I've Summered and wintered Poms. Tally Ho old chap, you got me again hip,hip. Who am I to argue with intrepid pioneers? Pioneers of modern beheadings, witch burnings, (alive of course) boiling in oil, drawn and quartered, etc.,etc -World leaders! London Tower felt and looked to me as if butter wouldn't melt in its mouth. One witty Beefeater, an ex royal marine who had been around the traps, pointed me to a small neatly mowed lawn and said that was "the office" old chap, drawing his hand across his throat. In the words or Mr Bean;- Knock knock! Who's there? Death! Death whoocckkkk! Jolly good. Maledrip, you made my day.

Jesus

Posted on 03-09-2017 12:45 | By maildrop

Penny just dropped! I ain't been hiding that. Bit slow aren't you?

Penny just dropped!

Posted on 03-09-2017 11:25 | By Papamoaner

Yoho! I was right! My stalker is a Pom. Explains everything.

My god!

Posted on 03-09-2017 08:55 | By Papamoaner

Three personal attacks by one poster in quick succession, mostly incoherent ramblings with nothing on topic, and confused about login names. This person has serious issues. Hmm, got me thinking now - might this be the person who poured white paint all over someone's car on that other thread currently running? Personality disorder type seems to fit!

@Capt Caveman

Posted on 02-09-2017 18:05 | By Papamoaner

You make a good point. Post Rogernomics we have created a "beneficiary industry" that people have become accustomed to. Very difficult to get rid of once established.

Local Workers

Posted on 02-09-2017 16:07 | By phoenix

Capt.kaveman. Been there.Done that call to get them out of bed,get breakfast dress in work gear.take them to work where others from over seas are already there earning $300.00 a day. You dont employ these people,you adopt them.

meanwhile

Posted on 01-09-2017 22:16 | By Capt_Kaveman

my taxes are going to motels to pay for people who dont work and have kids they cannot afford , there is not reason to import workers get these lazy buggers of my payroll

Morepork

Posted on 01-09-2017 20:58 | By maildrop

Sounds like the old neighbours moved to get away from you. Can't imagine why. Luckily the new ones can pretend to not speaky the lingo. Let me guess, when you start talking drivel they smile, nod and "walk away"?

Updated for latest revelations

Posted on 01-09-2017 17:46 | By maildrop

Cato must be thrilled that he has some people to talk to whilst you are in Dorothy's "chat rooms" all night looking for your next "man about the house".

Pretentious, moi?

Posted on 01-09-2017 16:09 | By maildrop

Gosh it looks like somebody has really got right under your skin again. Firing off in all directions. On a positive note it is good that your Asian bride has somebody to talk to whilst you are in those "chat rooms" all night looking to buy your next one. Happy shopping. Love you long time.

Thanks Sunlive - very interesting read

Posted on 01-09-2017 12:09 | By Papamoaner

We need more diversity. I have had Asian neighbours now for 4 years and they are a breath of fresh air. Not pretentious, materialistic, nor territorial, nor parochial - all those things their pommy predecessors were. What was that famous quotation by Sir Robert Muldoon about kiwis moving across the ditch etc etc? And yes, I'm NZ born Kiwi. Bring it on!

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On the ’Bird Walk’, Katikati looking over the Uretara stream to the Kaimai ranges. Photo: Glenice McDonald.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz