Duncan Garner: 'Hardworking Kiwis'? Not quite
OPINION: This will be an uncomfortable subject for most Kiwis – but it needs to be said.
We like to think of ourselves as hardworking right? Descendants of people who worked the land, that No 8 wire mentality and a willingness to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Aren't we?
Maybe not. Maybe we've become a bunch of lazy sods.
No longer are we prepared to work all hours of the day and night for not much more than the minimum wage.
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People from other countries are flooding into the country, desperate for a fresh start in life – and they're willing to do the jobs that people born here turn their noses up at. The harder that work is, the less we want to know about it.
Welcome to New Zealand. Where Kiwis can no longer be stuffed.
More than 150,000 Kiwis still remain unemployed. More than 70,000 young people aged 15-24 are not in any form of education, employment or training.
That's two Westpac Stadiums full of young people doing jack-all.
So either we can't be bothered, or immigrants are taking our jobs. It's a mixture of both.
Last year we had a record net gain of more than 70,000 migrants. They are now a big part of the central economic plan.
Some are New Zealanders returning home but many, many of these people are pouring into the country to fill these supposed skills-shortages.
Last year we granted permanent residency to 213 foreign bakers, 600 cafe/restaurant managers, 132 hotel service managers and 683 retail managers.
The list goes on and on and it's laughable what represents a "skilled" migrant these days.
We even imported 121 painters from overseas. Surely we can find 121 young Kiwis to do those jobs.
We are bringing in low-skilled migrants to do minimum-wage jobs that we can't be bothered getting out of bed for.
All this is driving down wages for everyone across the board. Wage growth is low, at just 1.6 per cent in the latest survey. That's because foreigners will work for low wages. Kiwis won't.
Last year we issued 200,000 work visas to foreigners – at the same time around 300,000 New Zealanders were recorded as either unemployed, or looking for more hours in their part-time jobs.
This week I spoke to the owner of a flooring company, Derek Alexander – himself an immigrant from Britain. His work visa says he must employ New Zealanders – and he's trying, without much luck.
Ninety per cent of the staff he hires don't even last a month. Flooring is hard work and the locals are too soft, he reckons.
These Kiwis can't be arsed because they drink too much booze, smoke too many drugs and are just damn lazy, he says.
A 23-year-old staff member, earning $27.50 an hour, just walked out on the job after three years – because he couldn't be bothered working on a Saturday.
Derek has been advertising for a flooring contractor for a week – he'll provide the training – but so far he hasn't had a single applicant.
What on earth has happened to us? No wonder business owners are turning to foreigners.
It's about time we talked about this problem openly and honestly.
Finance Minister Bill English dipped his toe into this issue a few months ago, claiming some young New Zealand workers were "pretty damned hopeless" ... and he got a smack in the chops for his troubles.
But I largely agree with him on this. We do have a bunch of soft young jokers who apparently prefer welfare to hard work. That attitude won't get them anywhere.
Perhaps we need to also look at our welfare system too. Why are we paying the dole to young people to do nothing?
There is a construction boom in this country right now – these people should be employed or in training.
No young New Zealander should be leaving school without a plan or a place to develop their potential.
If we don't do something we accept the bigotry of soft and low expectations.
And that's not nearly good enough in the land of plenty.
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- The Dominion Post