Is it time to tighten up migration?

March 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Immigration is set to hit record levels, pushing up house prices over the coming year, but Prime Minister John Key believes immigrants’ skills are needed and enough houses are “in the pipeline” in Auckland to meet the influx.

In their monthly update to ministers yesterday, Treasury officials said net permanent and long-term (PLT) migration in the year ending March was “likely to exceed our [December] Half Year Update forecast of a peak of 52,400″.

Inflows were expected to start easing in the first half of this year, and the impact on house prices and household wealth appeared more subdued in this cycle, possibly because of the concentration of 20-34-year-olds in the numbers.

“However, it is possible that the strength in PLT arrivals recently may begin to impact housing demand more significantly over the coming year,” they warned.

Key said there was no question immigration has some impact on housing.

“Generally, the Reserve Bank takes the view that net migration is positive for the economy but has some spill-over implications.”


I agree with the Reserve Bank that net migration is positive for the economy. And we have policy settings that migrants need to have skills and/or wealth. It is actually quite hard to qualify for residency.

However while the medium to long-term effects of migration are positive, the rate of migration can and does put pressure on infrastructure such as housing, schools, hospitals. That is not an argument against migration, but for making sure that the net inwards flow is at a reasonable rate.

The challenge is the net flow in is made up of four components. They are:

  1. Residents leaving NZ – Government has no control
  2. NZers returning to NZ – Government has no control
  3. Australians migrating to NZ – Government has no control
  4. Other nationalities migrating to NZ – Government has control

The first three components are all strongly increasing net migration to NZ. This is going to put some stress on infrastructure. So the question is should the Government make it harder for people in category (4) to migrate?

For NZ’s long-term good, the settings are at the right level. Overall migrants boost NZ’s economy and skills. But for a few years, the Government may want to consider increasing the number of points needed to gain residency, as a way to reduce the overall level of net migration to keep it to a level which won’t strain the infrastructure too much.

Increasing the points may not have much impact. The other three components are strongly supporting net migration, and the Government has no control of those. And it is a good thing fewer Kiwis are leaving, and more are returning home. But there will be infrastructure challenges.


David Howells on immigration and prosperity

March 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

ACT had a competition for people to submit their vision or views on what we could change to make New Zealand better. The five finalists presented their essays to the ACT conference, and delegates voted on the one they most thought deserved to win. There were questions from the audience, to which the five finalists had to answer and respond to.

All five did well and won $500, with the winner getting $3,000. That was David Howells for his speech. He probably got the most hostile questions but answered them well, and still won the vote. I thought his essay deserved a wider audience.

More Immigration, More Prosperity

New Zealand is a country built on immigration. We have more ethnicities in New Zealand than there are countries in the world – quite an achievement for a population of only 4-and-a-half million.

Our immigration regime has come a long way:

In 1944 New Zealand abolished the poll tax, which for decades was a discriminatory tax imposed on all new Chinese immigrants. In 1987, New Zealand came to the realisation that not just British citizens would make good immigrants. We have now stopped accepting immigrants based on British heritage, and now look at ones skills, and family connections when considering new immigrants.

This has led to people from a much wider range of nationalities being allowed to become New Zealanders.

But despite this, today in our schools, in history and social studies classes, it is always taught that New Zealand is bicultural nation.

Perhaps this is a useful description of New Zealand society in the 1800s. But history can only explain how things were – it is not a guideline for how things ought to be.

The idea of New Zealand being a bicultural society is outdated. We need to recognise New Zealand is home to diverse range of cultures. 

In our economy, immigrants bring skills to the workforce that New Zealand companies need. 

With technology advancing and more free trade agreements accelerating the process of globalisation, it is impossible for governments to be able to predict our future competitive advantages or even what skills will be in demand in the future.

In a globalised world it is now more important than ever to have flexible labour markets. An open immigration system is key for future New Zealand business to be able to get the skills they need to grow.

Immigrants also own businesses that employ New Zealanders. They work hard, sometimes in multiple jobs, to give themselves and their family opportunities that they might not have in their home country.

There are many opponents to our current, relatively open, immigration regime. The objections are not unique to New Zealand – the same arguments are used as justification to oppose immigration all over the world.

 On the surface the opposition to immigration often comes across as plain xenophobia. But underpinning what on the surface looks like simple xenophobia, are some of the oldest economic ideas around.

It is often expressed in the form; if an immigrant gets a job, or purchases some capital asset – it is at the expense of a local. This is the same kind of economic thinking that views the economy as a finite amount of pie, where for someone to get a bigger slice, someone else has to have smaller slice.

Immigrants do not take the “pie” from locals – they help grow it for all of us. 

The benefits immigrants bring are not just economic. Diversity enriches society by exposing us to a broader range of people with backgrounds, perspectives and languages we might not otherwise encounter. (And my god – fantastic food!).

And while we should be proud of our relatively open immigration system – there is more to be done.

I know of small businesses having to jump through burdensome regulatory hoops with immigration services to prevent good employees from being sent back to their home county.

I recently met a man who has lived and worked here in New Zealand for two years. He is seeking a better quality of life for himself and his family. But he has not even seen his wife or son for two years – waiting for immigration to grant them visas.

This kind of sacrifice is admirable – but it shouldn’t need to be made.
If you are willing to come New Zealand, stand on your own two feet and work hard, you should be allowed to come, bring your family, and stay.

I want New Zealand’s immigration system to become even more welcoming to immigrants and new-New Zealanders. An open immigration system will be a cornerstone of future prosperity and enrich our communities.

Tags: , ,

The benefits of immigration

February 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

From Twitter:

Top U.S. companies founded by 1st/2nd gen immigrants:

1 Apple
2 Google
4 Oracle
5 Facebook
6 Amazon
7 Qualcomm
9 eBay
10 VMware

Steve Jobs’ father was born in Syria.

Sergey Brin was born in the USSR.

Herman Hollerith’s father was born in Germany (IBM).

Larry Ellison’s father was Italian.

Mark Zuckerberg’s great-grandparents were immigrants

Jeff Bezos’ father was a Cuban immigrant.

Worth remembering when some people rail against immigrants.


Winston back to Chinese bashing again

November 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Streamlining rich Chinese into the country because they hold a Chinese-issued credit card has been slammed by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters who said it will lead to corruption here.

But the tourism industry welcomes the new move as knocking down a barrier to growth in getting wealthy Chinese to come to New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand’s agreement with China UnionPay allows holders of Platinum and Diamond UnionPay credit cards to provide evidence of their “premium card” status instead of information on their employment and source of funds, as part of the visa application process.

UnionPay is the only domestic bankcard organisation in China.

In the joint statement by New Zealand and China last week, the Chinese side welcomed “New Zealand’s recent visa facilitation package for Chinese citizens visiting New Zealand for tourism and business, and is willing to work with the New Zealand side to create more favourable conditions for bilateral personnel exchange.” Chinese visa applicants are also required to meet other requirements such as being of good character and having an acceptable standard of health.

This is about making it easier for Chinese nationals to visit NZ, not making it easier for them to gain residency here. This is a crucial difference.

Nationals from many countries can visit here without needing a visa at all. Is Winston complaining that British people can visit NZ and not need to prove they have a job and a source of funds? Of course not, as they’re not Asian.

Tourism Industry Association (TIA) New Zealand chief executive Chris Roberts welcomed the new credit card immigration policy.

He said the TIA had been advocating strongly to the government for more streamlined visa processing for high-value Chinese visitors.

It is one of the key growth opportunities identified in the industry’s Tourism 2025 framework.

“The Tourism 2025 goal of almost doubling total tourism revenue to $41 billion a year can only be achieved by the public and private sectors co-operating to remove barriers to growth and seizing opportunities.

“Smart schemes to target high-value Chinese travellers to get the visas they need as quickly and easily as possible will make New Zealand more internationally competitive for this crucial market, which has grown quickly to become our second-biggest source of visitors after Australia.”

So again this is about tourism, not migration.

However, Peters said Prime Minister John Key had not learnt lessons from the Kim Dotcom affair which had cost the country “a packet in the courts” and tarnished both the government’s and our international reputation”.

“Instead of saying we have a rigorous immigration programme and policies capable of doing the job . . . he’s now transferred that right onto another country and another country’s system.

“If holding some sort of platinum card is going to be the criteria then you hugely expose yourself and leave yourself open to corruption.

Winston has tried this before. I blogged on almost the same issue in 2012. Nationals from 57 countries can visit NZ without even needing a visa. Chinese nationals do still need a visa, and have to provide

  • Proof of good health
  • Proof of good character
  • A proper purpose for visiting
  • Proof they plan to leave
  • Proof of funds to cover stay in NZ ($1,000/mth), and departure
  • Not have a serious criminal record

They still have to fill in a 16 page form. All this change is that having a platinum credit card is an acceptable substitute for a statement from an employer about what their earnings are.

Winston knows this of course, but can never resist an opportunity to scaremonger.

Tags: , ,

Boris backs Kiwis to work in the UK

November 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

London Mayor and parliamentary hopeful Boris Johnson is backing a report by a British think-tank which calls for New Zealanders and Australians to freely live and work in Britain.

Mr Johnson has written a foreword to a Commonwealth Exchange report which calls for Kiwis and Australians to be given the same rights to travel and work in the United Kingdom as people from the European Union. …

It recommended establishing a “bilateral mobility zone” which would allow Kiwis and Aussies to travel and work in Britain and Britons to travel and work reciprocally in those two countries. A similar argument was made for Canada.

Sounds a great idea.

For those who argue NZ would be swamped by British workers, well look at the benefits of CER where we have an open labour market with Australia.

It won’t happen of course, but is a good idea.

Tags: , ,

Dotcom should not be deported for speeding

November 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Immigration NZ says it may need to consider whether it has to deport Kim Dotcom.

Officials were this morning making contact with the police to confirm a previously unknown dangerous driving conviction, revealed by the Herald today.

The conviction was not declared by Dotcom on his application for residency even though it came from a speeding incident just eight months before he made his application to live in New Zealand.

Applicants for residency are obliged to make a full disclosure of previous convictions and seek a “special direction” waiver.

Dotcom did so for a hacking conviction in 1994 and an insider trading conviction in 2001 – but there was no reference to the dangerous driving charge, to which he pleaded guilty on September 14, 2009.

He had been travelling at 149km/h in a 50km/h zone in Albany, on Auckland’s North Shore.

Travelling 99 km/hr over the speed limit is near homicidal, in a 50 km/hr area. I will sometimes drives in excess of the speed limit when I judge it safe to do so, but to drive at three times the speed limit is very very dangerous.

In the residency form, Dotcom signed in June 2010, there is a clear tick in the box declaring no dangerous driving conviction.

The Herald obtained details of the conviction from the North Shore District Court, where it was recorded under the name “Kim Schmitz”, the identity under which Dotcom was born.

Did he use his old name, to try and hide the conviction?

In a written statement, Immigration NZ admitted it had no idea Dotcom had a conviction for dangerous driving until it was told by the Herald.

The statement said Immigration NZ didn’t know because it never did a police check.

Well they should. But of course the onus is on the applicant to tell the truth.

The statement read: “Immigration New Zealand (INZ) can confirm that Kim Dotcom did not declare a dangerous driving conviction in New Zealand.

“Normally there is no requirement for a New Zealand Police check if an applicant has lived in New Zealand for less than 12 months at the time their residence application is lodged and there are no reasonable grounds to suspect the applicant has been charged with an offence in New Zealand.”

The statement said it did not check because “Mr Dotcom did not declare any convictions in New Zealand and had been living here for less than 12 months”.

As Dotcom has become such an unpopular figure, it is tempting to say that his failure to disclose his dangerous driving conviction should be used as grounds to rescind the residency decision.

But these decisions should not be based on popularity. If the non-disclosure was a genuine oversight, then the question should be would he have been declined residency in 2010, if it had been disclosed? I doubt, it would have affected the decision.

However if the non-disclosure was deliberate, and the use of his old name part of a strategy to conceal the conviction, then that would be grounds to review the residency decision.

So accidental non-disclosure of the dangerous driving conviction should not lead to the residency being cancelled. But a deliberate concealment could be grounds.

Tags: ,

Jamie Whyte on Immigration decisions

July 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT Leader Jamie Whyte blogs:

But politicians’ involvement with would-be immigrants is clearly a problem.  Maurice Williamson, Phillip Field, Shane Jones, Damien O’Connor and now Jonathan Coleman have been drawn into controversy.

Even if there has been no improper behaviour, the appearance of politicians doing favours for wealthy would-be immigrants undermines public confidence not only in our immigration system but in politics more generally. People will suspect that politicians are doing favours for these would-be immigrants in return for favours they have done the politicians.

The problem has a simple solution. The Minister of Immigration should have no involvement in the immigration application process. Nor should any other MP. Immigration applications are an operational matter. Political interference should play no role in them.

When exceptions to standard policy need to be considered, this should be done by qualified members of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), which already exists. The IPT may need a wider remit to approve exceptional cases. That is a proper matter for politicians to decide. But once the rules and processes are established, politicians should play no further role in the matter. They should have no say in individual cases.

I think there is merit in this suggestion. Either a Judge, or members of a tribunal, should make decisions on cases that fall outside policy. You need the flexibility to make decisions on individual cases, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a Minister.

Tags: ,

Even the Socialists are beating Labour up on immigration

June 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tom Peters at World Socialist writes:

Over the past month, New Zealand’s main opposition Labour Party, the Greens, the Maori nationalist Mana Party and the right-wing NZ First Party, have intensified their xenophobic campaign to restrict immigration, particularly from China and other Asian countries. The parties are seeking to make this a central issue in the lead-up to the September election.

Labour, which lost the 2011 election by a landslide, is floundering in the polls and widely seen as no different to the conservative National Party government. Since National was first elected in 2008 it has implemented a series of brutal austerity measures to impose the global economic crisis on working people, leading to soaring living costs and increasing poverty and inequality. Labour essentially agrees with the government’s attacks—including thousands of public sector job cuts, health and education cuts, and an increase in the regressive Goods and Services Tax.

Now Labour and its allies are whipping up hostility to immigrants, blaming them for the deepening crisis, particularly the soaring cost of housing. 

So the Socialists and the Greens are both attacking Labour for their attempt to blame house prices on immigrants.

They also attack Mana:

Depicting Chinese immigrants as a new colonising force, intent on dominating NZ’s economy, provides the rationale to support the US build-up to war against China, or else take a neutral position. At the same time, the campaign reflects the material interests of layers of big business and the petty bourgeoisie, including the Maori elite represented by Mana, who see foreign investors as rivals.

Mana’s statements are further proof that there is nothing remotely progressive about the party, which uses national chauvinism and racial identity politics to divide the working class and block any challenge to the capitalist system.

I think Mana gave up being progressive when they took the $3 million from Mr Dotcom.

Tags: , , ,

Logie defends immigrants from Labour and NZ First

June 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Green MP Jan Logie blogs:

Over the last couple of weeks Labour has suggested immigrants are causing our housing crisis and that we should cut the numbers of immigrants coming in, NZ First has suggested too many unskilled migrants are coming and taking our jobs and National wants us stop those boat people. All this adds up to unhelpful and potentially stigmatising conversation.

I wonder how Penjun and his family and all the other migrants like them are feeling in NZ right now.

Immigration seems to be a difficult topic to discuss sensibly. It has been a trigger for racism here in the past and very worryingly we are seeing the rise of racist political parties in Europe targeting migrants. I don’t want to see such conversations leading to anyone in this country feeling as if they are not valued or are missing out because another group of people is getting more.

Let me say clearly now: the housing crisis is not the fault of recent migrants; the unemployment rate is not the fault of recent migrants; and asylum seekers are not a threat to us.

Good to see Logie call Labour out on this.

On the issue of asylum seekers, I don’t think anyone says they are a threat. I think people are saying we don’t want to encourage people to try and sail to NZ, as more often than not they’ll drown doing so.

Tags: ,

Labour in full retreat on immigration

June 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

David Cunliffe yesterday on Radio Live:

SEAN PLUNKET:        So you’re going to leave family reunification completely out of it?

DAVID CUNLIFFE:     Yep, we’ll leave family reunification out of it.

And Stuff last week:

Labour is taking aim at work visa and family reunification categories as it eyes ways to limit the flow of migrants to the country. …

Labour immigration spokesman Trevor Mallard said there would be no change to the rights of Australians to come here, or to quotas under agreements such as with Samoa or the annual refugee quota.

Instead, it would target the numbers getting work visas, which according to Statistics NZ were granted to about 30,000 last year, as well as visas in the family reunification category.

This is policy on the hoof. They’re making it up every day.

If they can’t even handle opposition, how could they handle Government?

UPDATE: Cunliffe this morning still denying the comments of his own immigration spokespersoon. On ZB with Rachel Smalley he said:

I mean he has frankly made up the suggestion that we would decrease the Samoan or Pacific quotas or cut back on family reunification.  At no stage have we said we would do any of that and frankly it’s not our policy.

The Stuff article makes it very clear they were talking family reunifications.

It seems the only category they’re willing to now concede they may change is investor migrants. We have only a few dozen of those a year. You could scrap the category entirely and impact migration by around 0.5% only.

Tags: ,

So what will Labour cut?

June 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour is claiming that it will cut migrant numbers by somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 to get net migration from 40,000 to somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000.

Most of the change in net migration is about fewer people leaving NZ, and Kiwis returning home. So to get net migration down to level Labour talks about would require massive cuts in some categories. Labour should front up and detail where they will cut, and how much.

Let’s look at the various categories of residency visas granted.


Last year was 20,007. This is already 27% lower than under Labour in 2007/08. They’d have to ban all skilled migrants to get to the levels they talk about


Last year was 3,262. Is Labour going to cut our refugee quota, or just the skilled migrants quota?

The Samoa quota had 938 people enter on it last year. Will Labour reduce that? If they can’t name where they will reduce and how much, then how do we know?

Parent/Sibling/Adult Child stream

Last year was 4,401. This is already 15% lower than under Labour in 2007/08.

Family Sponsored

Last year was 11,291. This is 19% higher than in 2007/08. You could make some changes here but if you took it back to 2007/08 levels that is only a reduction of 1,832 – less than 10% of what Labour needs.

Almost all of these categories are people bring partners in. So will Labour ban migrants from having partners come to NZ? How would they reduce the level in this category?


The total number of migrants in 2012/13 was 38,961. Labour is saying they will effectively cut that in half. But in their last year in office it was 46,077 – 15% higher than it currently is.

The reality is that we do not have more migrants being allowed into New Zealand. In fact it has reduced.

What we do have more of are three types of temporary entrants. They are:

  1. Temporary work visas. The Christchurch rebuild is the major factor here. Is Labour going to reduce these, and slow up the rebuild?
  2. Student visas. These generate billions of dollars in tuition fees and also domestic spending. You’d have to be nuts to cap these, as they subsidise the cost of tertiary education for Kiwis.
  3. Working holidays. We have agreements with many countries to allow young citizens from their countries to work here for a year or so on working holidays. We would have to break our agreements to reduce these, and that would mean young Kiwis would lose the right to do working holidays in those countries as they are generally reciprocal.

So everytime Labour says we have too many migrants coming to New Zealand, make sure you ask where will they cut, and how much. That is a question they won’t or can’t answer.

UPDATE: Trevor Mallard is saying they may make changes in the investor category. Well that is fewer than 100 migrants a year. So once again, how will they get net migration down to 20,000? If you say that is where it should be, you need to explain how. Otherwise it is just pandering to fear.

Tags: ,

Rudman on Cunliffe

May 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes in the Herald:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has tried just about everything to put a dent in the Government’s poll ratings without success. He’s now dipping into Winston Peters’ murky bag of tricks and started pointing the finger at migrants as the cause of our woes.

He wants to cut back from projected migration levels of over 40,000 in “total flows” to the “zone of between 5000 and 15,000″.

He wants “enough new migrants to fill our skill gaps but not so many that it overwhelms our housing market or the ability of our schools and our hospitals to cope”. In the case of hospitals, he seems to be forgetting that without migrants as staff at all levels, they would gradually grind to a halt.

At least he’s stopping short of the New Zealand First proposal that migrants spend their first five years in purgatory in Wanganui or Ruatoria or some other remote outpost before being allowed into the big smoke of Auckland, where most migrants want to live.

Labour’s vote is so low, they’re now trying to steal votes off Winston. Hey, I’m in favour if it knocks Winston below 5%!

To his credit, Mr Key has resisted the mob, telling 3 News that “New Zealand is a country that has been built on migration. We’ve done very well out of it and I think we should be very cautious about taking knee-jerk steps”.

Praise for Key from Rudman – very rare.

Virginia Chong, the president of the New Zealand Chinese Association, calls Labour’s policy “scaremongering”, pointing out the obvious that the answer to rising house prices is to build more homes.

Yep, and for that you need more land available for housing as land is the biggest component of house prices.

Without migrants, our hospitals, about which Mr Cunliffe frets, would be so short of staff, there’d be patient queues stretching around the Auckland Domain. The All Blacks wouldn’t be world champions, and my favourite band, the Auckland Philharmonia, would be but a pale shadow of its present self. And goodness knows where we’d dine out.

And the level of migration is pretty much unchanged from when Cunliffe was Immigration Minister. In fact fewer residency visas are being granted. The big change is fewer Kiwis are leaving, more Kiwis are returning home and more Aussies are wanting to live and work here.

Tags: , ,

A backlash within Labour to Cunliffe’s new immigration stance

May 27th, 2014 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

James Caygill has tried to stand for Labour, is a long-time activist, and a former ministerial staffer. He tweeted:

And in case there is any doubt about whom he is referring to:

Ouch. A former staffer and aspiring candidate says the leader has jumped the shark and compares him to Don Brash. Worse, he says he will not even vote Labour now – and I suspect James has voted Labour all his life.

I can’t wait for Labour to clarify if it only wants to reduce the number of skilled migrants that can come to NZ, or if it also wishes to reduce the number of refugees and those coming under special quotas such as the Pacific Islands.

A Labour Party leader campaigning on NZ should have fewer migrants is like Tony Abbott deciding that we need to increase tax rates on the higher income earners. Both go against their core values.

Tags: , ,

Labour ramps up the rhetoric on migrants

May 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Yesterday the UKIP wins the UK European elections, and maybe it is no coincidence that David Cunliffe is on TV that night saying that migrants are responsible for our increasing house prices.

3 News reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has taken his hardest line yet against immigrants, blaming them for rising house prices.

It follows a 3 News-Reid Research poll which shows almost two-thirds of voters say immigration should be restricted.

“It would take 80 percent of our housing supply just to accommodate this year’s migrants – and National is doing nothing,” says Mr Cunliffe.

This is the politics of blame and xenophobia. The facts do not back up what Cunliffe is trying to get people to accept.

I blogged the data for the last 10 years here. I repeat the key point:

So net migration is 24,000 higher than five years ago. But look at what makes up that 24,000. 15,300 are fewer people leaving. 5,700 are Kiwis returning or Aussies migrating. Only 3,400 are other migrants.

Migration does have an impact on house prices. But the level of migrants coming here has not changed greatly in recent years. In fact residency visas are down on 2008.

Will Labour just dog whistle on this one, or will they come out with a specific policy they propose? Do they propose to scrap work visas for that has been the area of most growth. For if they do, well then it means houses in Christchurch will not get built as quickly – because hey it is those damn migrant workers helping build them.

And now mistruths in this Radio NZ report:

Mr Cunliffe told Morning Report the party has always backed the skills and diversity migrants bring with them, but it must be sustainable.

He said a gross inward flow of about 70,000 migrants is forecast over the coming year, while a figure of about 15,000 has been a rule of thumb in the past.

That’s totally wrong. The current figure (PLT arrivals of non NZ citizens) for the year to April 2014 is 71,070. Here’s what it was when Labour was in.

  • 2008 – 64,320
  • 2007 – 59,670
  • 2006 – 58,640
  • 2005 – 54,710
  • 2004 – 54,670
  • 2003 – 64,310
  • 2002 – 71,040
  • 2001 – 58,170

15,000 has never been close to the rule of thumb. David Cunliffe was Immigration Minister for two of those years.

UPDATE: Radio NZ has altered their story so it now reads:

Mr Cunliffe cites predictions of net immigration of 40,000 people over the coming year, whereas he says a figure of 15,000 has been the rough rule of thumb in the past.

Why has the story changed. Did David Cunliffe say what the original story quotes him as saying, or did Radio NZ get it wrong. If the latter, then once again we have media altering stories with no transparency. If the former, then why did the web story change?

UPDATE2: Have now listened to Morning Report and the error is Radio NZ, but also Cunliffe tried to fudge figures.

Cunliffe did say gross migration was around 72,000. He said it should be lower and Espiner challenged him to name a figure he thought was acceptable. Cunliffe in response said that 15,000 is the normal level of net migration. So Cunliffe did not say gross migration is normally 15,000.  But he was being tricky by talking about gross migration in slating the Government, and then talking net migration for the level under Labour.

I can understand how a Radio NZ reporter got confused and conflated them. Doesn’t change the fact though that their original story was wrong and they should note at the bottom of a story when they have changed it from a previous story.

Tags: , ,

Labour’s alien invasion from Mars is getting closer

May 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe did not respond to requests for comment, but during debate in Parliament last year called the law “tawdry” and said “there is exactly the same probability of an alien invasion from Mars as there is of boat people from Indonesia or ‘Wogistan”‘.

Crystal clear. Any talk of boat people coming to NZ is rubbish Labour said. But …

Under cover of darkness last Wednesday night, eight cars containing around 50 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh slipped out of the mountain town of Cisarua, 60km south of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, and drove towards the coast.

The tension was palpable. They’d been holed up in a villa for weeks waiting for this moment, the first step on a long, treacherous journey they hoped would end in a new life in faraway New Zealand.

The passengers, all adults, had paid people-smugglers deposits of around $US500 ($585), with the remaining $US5000 ($5800) or so due if they reached their destination.

But their dreams were dashed at the last minute. Although corrupt officials had been paid off, according to sources, it wasn’t enough – police intercepted them and the group was turned around.

They are now back in Cisarua, the disillusioned walking away, the desperate vowing to give it another go in the next few days.

The Sunday Star-Times learned of the plan to send a boat of 50 asylum seekers to New Zealand during a joint investigation with Fairfax Australia.

We obtained video footage of the boats involved in the plan, listened to secret recordings of a money-changer talking about New Zealand as the best option now that Australia is “closed”, and, posing as an asylum seeker, contacted the smuggling kingpin.

How can this be? David Cunliffe told us that boat people trying to come to NZ had the same probability as an invasion from Mars.

No asylum boat has ever made it to New Zealand but the current operation is the third attempt in recent months.

Three attempts in as many months.

Tags: ,

Can’t win

May 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chuang said in good economic times Asians were blamed for buying all the houses, in bad economic times they were blamed for taking jobs.

This is very true.

Partly related to the issue that when lots of NZers are leaving New Zealand, oppositions call it a crisis – yet when the numbers reverse, they then also call it a crisis.


Editorials on Immigration

May 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Immigrants are easy prey for political vultures. Demagogues can win votes by using foreigners as scapegoats, as has happened repeatedly in New Zealand’s history. So the argument about the effect of immigration on housing could easily turn poisonous. It’s important not to let that happen.

The Budget’s big surprise was the revelation of a turn in the usual tide of migration. The outward flow has turned into a net inward movement, mainly because fewer Kiwis are moving to Australia. Now there is concern that the inflow will push up house prices.

Panic measures will not help with this problem, as Labour seemed to realise soon after pledging a cut in net immigration. Asked exactly how big the cut would be, Labour faltered and fudged.

It was almost comical. David Cunliffe said they’d reduce it from 40,000 net to under 15,000. Phil Twyford went further and said it would be 5,000. Then Cunliffe claimed he’d never said what he said and said Twyford had it wrong.

Immigration flows cannot be turned off and on like a tap. The present trans-Tasman inflow could quite quickly reverse as the rebuilding of Christchurch reduces, our growth rate falls, and Australia’s economy rebounds. Big cuts in immigrant numbers would then exacerbate the renewed outward flow.

The country is entitled to control immigration and there might be room for some temporary reduction in immigrants. 

Maybe Labour will campaign on reducing the quota numbers for the Pacific Islands, around South Auckland.

Winston Peters’ anti-Asian campaigns in the 1996 and 2002 elections also caused unnecessary alarm. There is always a receptive audience for this kind of trouble-making, especially among the older, the frightened, and the bewildered.

All the loose talk about the “Asian invasion” and the predictions of racial trouble turned out to be hollow. Auckland now has a large Asian population, but there has been no bloodshed, no ethnic violence, no outbreaks of hatred. New Zealand has shown that it is on the whole a tolerant and welcoming society which copes well with change.

One can debate the size and pace of immigration. These are legitimate topics. But as I pointed out several days ago the number of residency visas is actually lower today than in 2008. The big change is fewer Kiwis are leaving NZ, and more Kiwis and Aussies are deciding to live here rather than in Australia.

The Herald editorial:

In theory, Labour’s policy of managing immigration seems eminently sensible. The party would, said David Cunliffe, aim for “a steady, predictable, moderate flow that’s at a level that addresses skill shortages”. In reality, however, such an approach is impractical. New Zealand has had enough experience with stop-go immigration policies to know that while it might be easy to turn off the tap, it can be extremely difficult to return the flow to the desired level. …

Labour says that threat could be defused by restricting the annual migrant intake to between 5000 and 15,000. It did not dwell on how that would affect the external perception of a policy that could no longer be said to be stable, sage or welcoming.

To reduce net migration to that level, you would need to abolish all residential visas and almost all work visas. Christchurch construction would of course come to a halt.

Additionally, Labour’s policy is based on a false premise. The latest net migration statistics reflect not so much a flood of immigrants as far fewer people being lured across the Tasman, in particular, and an increasing number of New Zealanders returning from Australia. 

I’m glad the leader writes read my blog :-)

Tags: , , ,

National reaffirms pro-immigration stance

May 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour joining NZ First as anti-immigration may not go down well with, well, immigrants.

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key laid out the welcome mat for foreigners yesterday and said it was a point of contrast between National and other parties.

“We don’t put up the fear factor you see from other political parties about the multicultural society that is emerging in New Zealand,” he told more than 300 delegates to National’s northern conference at Waipuna Hotel yesterday.

“We welcome tourists that come from overseas; we welcome people that are going to come and study at our schools and universities; we welcome people who want to invest in New Zealand and we welcome people who want to make their home in New Zealand,” he said. “And yes, we welcome people who want to buy a home here and raise a family. That’s what a multicultural, confident society is about.”

New Zealand’s future lay in selling things to the rest of the world and the future of the world was about being more connected, he said.

Indeed. Barriers are reducing.

There was a larger than usual representation of Pacific Island delegates from South Auckland seats and Mr Key made special mention of it.

He referred to the imminent departure of former economic development spokesman Shane Jones from Labour – to take up a position as a Pacific fisheries ambassador for the Government.

“If you look at Labour, they have lost the only guy in their caucus who vaguely even cares about economic growth or prosperity or people getting ahead under their own steam.”

He said it was critical in the campaign to demonstrate contrast on offer by political parties and opposition by Labour and the Greens to jobs and growth. “You don’t need to take my word for it – take Shane Jones’ word for it, because that is exactly what he is saying, that there is no point being economic development minister in a Labour-Greens Government that doesn’t believe in economic development.”

That’s not much of a paraphrase. Jones has said he wishes he had realised earlier how much Labour has changed.

His valedictory speech will be very interesting.

Tags: , ,

Labour now joins NZ First as being anti-immigration

May 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

At first Labour claimed they were just against foreign investment, but now they’ve gone further and are against foreigners coming here.

3 News reports:

The fine print in Labour’s plan to make mortgages cheaper contains a political bombshell.

Labour wants to stop some immigrants coming into New Zealand because they are pushing up house prices in Auckland.

In the overheated Auckland housing market, Labour already wants to ban foreign buyers. But now it wants to go further and ban some at the border, cutting back immigration numbers.

I wonder what Rajen Prasad and Raymond Huo think about Labour’s new policy to reduce immigration.

Tags: ,

The Robson complaint

May 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Former cabinet minister Matt Robson is under police investigation following a complaint regarding a Thai masseuse who was allegedly blackmailed into working in the sex trade.

The serious allegations were made by immigration adviser and former Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere.

Mr Delamere says the former Alliance MP and Corrections and Courts Minister played a part in bringing a Thai woman to New Zealand to work as a masseuse based at the Stamford Plaza in Auckland.

However, the woman has complained to Immigration New Zealand after allegedly being forced to work at another premises in Parnell owned by the same company which ran the massage service at the hotel. She was allegedly blackmailed into offering sexual services under the threat of being deported.

Mr Delamere says he laid the complaint against the owners of the massage centre and asked police to investigate Mr Robson’s and Immigration NZ’s role in bringing the woman to New Zealand.

I don’t think this issue has anything to do with Matt Robson, and including him in the complaint to the Police seems to be a publicity stunt.

Unless there is evidence that Robson had anything to do with the alleged blackmail (and it seems there is none), then his role in helping her migrate is not material to what allegedly occurred. I think the inclusion of him in a public complaint is not in good faith.

Tags: , ,

Auckland gets more religious

February 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Auckland had the largest percentage of religious people in New Zealand at the 2013 Census, results from Statistics New Zealand show. The region also had more religious people than at the last census, in 2006.

Across New Zealand, the number of people who affiliated with a religion in 2013 fell 5.5 percent since the 2006 Census. Regional data released today shows that this trend was reflected in every region except Auckland, which had a 1.2 percent increase in the number of religious residents.

“Auckland was the only region with more religious people in 2013 than in 2006,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said. “It also had the highest proportion of people with a religion, at 59.6 percent, though this fell from 63.5 percent in 2006. Nationally, 55.0 percent of the population had a religious affiliation in 2013.”

I wonder why this is. A few theories.

  1. Most new immigrants come to Auckland, and new immigrants are more likely to be religious than those already here
  2. Auckland is home to more evangelical churches and they are being successful in converting people, especially in South Auckland
  3. Religious types are moving from other areas to Auckland

I think No 1 is most likely.

Tags: , , ,

If truly in love, she could move to India?

July 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A couple’s age gap of nearly 40 years is being cited as one of the reasons Immigration New Zealand declined an Indian man’s visa application – a move he says is “ageist”.

Balwinder Singh, 22, met New Zealander Glyn Kessell, 59, at a hair salon in Glenfield last year.

The relationship started with texts, progressed to “intimacy” within three weeks and then marriage two months later.

And just by coincidence he wants residency?

I think Immigration should be suspicious of any marriage that occurs within three months of meeting. And it is not ageist to consider a difference in ages. It is common sense.

Immigration NZ area manager Michael Carley denied the decision was ageist or racist. It was made “after an extremely detailed and thorough assessment, which included visiting Mr Singh and his wife at their home and interviewing them both”.

“The couple got married after an uncommonly short three-month courtship. It was noted during a visit to the couple’s home that their living arrangement appeared to be akin to a boarding situation.”

Not surprised.

He said Mr Singh could take the matter to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal should his appeal to Immigration NZ fail.

He might be deported if the tribunal decided against him.

But if this is true love, I am sure Ms Kessell will be happy to move to India so they can be together.


What Winston didn’t tell you about those sinful Chinese

May 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Winston’s recent attack on Chinese immigrants was appalling. He takes a few cherry picked examples and portrays an entire race as being bad for New Zealand. Vernon Small summarises:

Despite his disclaimers that his party was not anti-immigration, you could not read the speech and miss the message: Chinese immigrants (or at least a demonised subset of them) drive up house prices, stretch infrastructure to breaking point, break the law, access health and superannuation they have not paid for, and import corruption and depravity.

We actually have an immigration policy that is blind to people’s race and ethnicity – which is how it should be. With the exception of a small quota for the Pacific, immigrants are not judged on their race or ethnicity. That is as it should be. It is appalling to judge someone not as an individual, but based on their race. That is why immigration decisions are based on skills, work offers, education, assets, family status etc. There will always be changes we can make to our immigration settings but I absolutely reject Winston’s approach of pilloring Chinese immigrants.

In his speech he had a few “horror” stories about some Chinese businessmen building a brothel, and Chinese tourists who like to gamble etc.

What Winston will never tell you is that overall Chinese New Zealanders commit far far fewer crimes than other New Zealanders, and contribute highly to the economy.

People may be surprised by how significant the difference is in crime rates, by ethnicity. These graphs are based on Stats NZ data from the Police. It is the number of apprehensions for each ethnicity, per 10,000 population.

Let’s look at the overall offending rate.


Yes the Asian crime rate is 52 apprehensions per 10,000 population. Caucasians are five times higher at 254, Pacific 10 times higher at 545 and Maori sadly at around 25 times the rate at 1,240.

Maybe Winston will just claim that the problem is the Asian criminals are much smarter than the other criminals, so don’t get caught as much!


The overall crime rate is not a very useful figure, so I also thought I’d look at four common and penacious categories. The worse tends to be violent and sexual crimes and as you can see the Asian rate for violent crimes is less than a third of caucasions and one seventh of the overall violent crime rate.



The sexual crime rate also relatively very low.


And when it comes to robberies, the rate is one twenty fifth of the overall NZ rate.



And for burglaries, the rate is one fortieth the overall NZ rate!

So the next time Winston goes on about how Chinese immigration is turning Auckland into a city of sin, remind him how crime is a sin – and that his xenophobic scaremongering is repugnant.


Tags: , , , , ,

Winston declares war on China

May 24th, 2013 at 3:41 pm by David Farrar

Winston has proclaimed:

John Key and his ministers have made it clear that our future lies with the Peoples’ Republic of China. …

The Government is talking of a million more people in Auckland soon and there is no prize for guessing where most of them will come from.

It’s the Yellow Peril!

But to this government it’s a great chance to bring in rich Chinese tourists through a half-baked – fast track, special treatment visa scheme.

Not available to you or any other nation.

Absolute lies. Scores of countries do not need any visa whatsoever. The only scheme in place for China is allowing airlines (including Air NZ) to use frequent flyer status as a proxy for a certified bank statement.

And when the so-called rich tourists have finished at the blackjack tables or the pokie machines there’s another attraction nearby.

If Winston is suddenly against gambling, why then as Minister of Racing did he double taxpayer support for racing – one of the most destructive forms of gambling.

The Hong Kong born Chow brothers are thoughtfully providing a fifteen storey brothel, in what used to be an historic building, just across the road from the casino in the heart of Auckland!

Those evil Chinese – also building brothels. There were none in Auckland of course before the Chinese got here.

One concerned citizen sent me a copy of that scurrilous magazine Truth.

It’s chocker with page after page of sex ads – most based in this fair city.

Is that what you voted for?

Whale Oil will be pleased Winston reads Truth. As far as I know Truth has had sex ads in it for 40 years or so. Blaming it on the Government or the Chinese is rather pathetic, but probably lapped up the a few dottery people.



This is a word cloud of Winston’s speech. To think he was once Foreign Minister!

Of course some Chinese immigrants are criminals, are involved in the sex trade etc etc. But Winston cherry picks a few horror stories to effectively demonise several hundred thousand New Zealanders. No mention of the fact Asian crime rates are far far less than other ethnicities. No mention of the fact their educational achievements are way higher than other groups. No mention of the fact they tend to have a lower unemployment rate etc.

It’s classic old Winston. Find a group and make them the scapegoat for everything wrong in society.

Tags: , ,

Swedish riots

May 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The headline in Stuff was:

Stockholm rioting continues after shooting

Sweden is not normally a country you associate with rioting. When I saw the headline, I thought that it was almost inevitable that the rioting would be by immigrants. I felt a bit guilty over jumping to such a conclusion but the story starts:

Some 200 youths hurled rocks at police and set cars ablaze in a largely immigrant suburb of Stockholm today, the second day of rioting triggered by the fatal police shooting of a man wielding a knife.

Dozens of windows were smashed, 10 cars and several containers were set on fire, and seven police officers were injured. Cars and containers were also set ablaze in another of the Swedish capital’s suburbs, Fittja, although police said it was not clear whether the two events were linked.

The unrest began Sunday night in response to the May 13 shooting, in which police killed a 69-year-old man who had locked himself in an apartment in Husby, west of Stockholm. Police refused to give the nationality of the victim.

It sounds like France.

I am an absolute fan of immigration, but it has to be done in a way where new citizens integrate into their new country, not form enclaves. Few countries in Europe have managed this. I’m pleased to say that New Zealand largely does.

Reinfeldt added that Husby – where around 80 percent of the roughly 11,000 residents are first- or second-generation immigrants – has been going in the right direction during his seven-year tenure, with employment increasing and crime falling.

An 80% concentration of immigrants is not healthy in my opinion. As I said above, integration (which is different to assimilation) is the key.

Tags: ,