The stench of desperation

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has vowed to slash immigration by “tens of thousands” of new arrivals but won’t be more specific about exact numbers.

Speaking to Focus after the Government announced a tightening of immigration rules, Little said Labour would go much further in order to give the country a “breather”.

“The commitment I am making is we have to be serious about it, we have to cut immigration. It has got to be in the order of tens of thousands,” Little said.

“And it has got to be immigration that meets the genuine shortage of skills that we’ve got, not just the open slather policy we’ve got right now.”

Asked by how much would Labour cut immigration, Little said he did not have an exact number and flexibility was needed from year to year in order to match the right migrants with skill shortages.

This is the stench of desperation as Labour searches for traction, so Little is trying to emulate Peters without success.

What Little hopes no one notices is his pretend policy is basically impossible because so much of the gain in net migration is from Kiwis staying and Aussies moving here.

The level of residency visas (for people not from Australia) in 2008 was 15,607 and in 2016 was 16,535.

The rest of the increase is student and work visas. And while there are areas of tightening, you simply could not knock off tens of thousands without a massive hit to the economy.

If Little was at all serious, rather than a desperate soundbite, he’d detail an actual policy change. Instead he sounds like a wannabee Winston.

Lloyd Burr at Newshub looks at Little’s numbers and finds they don’t add up. Little has said he wants 50,000 fewer immigrants which is more than even the total number of work visas. And he points out some problems there:

Andrew Little cannot abolish the essential skills visa category, unless he comes up with a way to rapidly train thousands of Kiwis to work in areas where there are skill shortages.

If he abolishes the Working Holiday Scheme, then our friend nations will likely retaliate and prevent Kiwis from having working holidays too.

The Family/Spouse visa could be culled, but he’d be breaking hearts across the globe, and if he abolishes the study-to-work scheme, that would have a serious impact on the number of international students coming to New Zealand universities and polytechnics.

The seasonal working visas are only five percent of the work category, and are a vital part of our role as a responsible Pacific neighbour.

Then there’s the ‘other’ category which is so complex, there cannot be a blanket abolition without breaching free trade deals, or regional agreements.

We should demand Little details exactly which categories he will abolish or change. As Burr says any change to working holiday visas will see young Kiwis overseas retaliated against.

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