Winston’s migration test

Graham Adams writes:

The Government voted for the first UN global agreement on a common approach to international migration on December 19 
– amid a flurry of mostly negative commentary. Bridges said National would withdraw from the pact if elected because it “could restrict the ability of future governments to set and foreign policy, and to decide on which migrants are welcome and which aren’t”.

Coverage of the issue died down over the Christmas and New Year holiday period but it’s hard to believe that the matter has blown over or the damage to Peters and NZ First will not continue.
NZ First’s Facebook page shows just how much some of Peters’ supporters (including those who declare themselves now to be former supporters) are outraged by his support for the compact. The words “traitor”, “deceiver”, “turncoat”, “quisling”, “sellout” and “Judas” appear frequently among hundreds of hostile comments, alongside predictions of the annihilation of NZ First at the next election.

What’s fascinating on their Facebook page is the anger isn’t just on the post about the UN migration pact. Even Winston’s Xmas message has scores of former supporters denouncing him as a UN puppet etc.

Voting for the compact wouldn’t matter nearly as much, of course, if the Government had already cut immigration substantially – as both Labour and NZ First promised individually on the campaign trail – but it hasn’t.

It’s a clear breach of a campaign pledge and Peters can’t even palm off the blame to Labour as the dominant partner since he has previously asserted that the coalition is not “Labour-led” but rather the meeting of two more-or-less equals. Certainly, his success in persuading Labour and the Greens to pass the waka-jumping law alone indicates just how much clout he has.

Few would believe therefore that he wouldn’t get his way if he wanted immigration numbers to be slashed by 20,000-30,000 – which Ardern said was the Government’s aim after coalition talks were concluded. 

While Peters has been quick to point out that net immigration numbers have indeed fallen, the reduction of 8900 in the year from October 2017 – the month when Peters pledged his troth to Jacinda Ardern – is less than half the lower range of these figures. And a net figure of 61,800 migrants for the year ended October 2018 is still extremely high for a small nation. 

The small reduction is even smaller when you look at what makes it up. Here’s the data for Oct 17 year vs Oct 18 year.

  • Migrants gone from 99,650 to 96,760 (a 2.9% reduction)
  • NZers returning home from dropped from 32,140 to 31,300 (a 2.6% reduction)
  • Citizens or residents leaving NZ gone from 61,060 to 66,430 (a 8.8% increase)

So the vast bulk of the already modest drop in net migration is because more people are leaving NZ, rather than fewer people are migrating here. The drop in actual migration was fewer than 3,000.

In this regard, it’s worth noting that Peters campaigned on cutting the net figure to 10,000

Labour said they would reduce it be a third to a half. Winston said he would reduce it by over 80%. The reality is they have done next to nothing.

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