Migrants worthy of New Zealand

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 13:26 21/10/2012

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OPINION: That's right David Shearer, we're taking your jobs.

Almost 84,000 of us arrived in the past year, mostly aged 18 to 34, and we're hell bent on driving your young to Australia and hoovering up all the plum jobs. We're prepared to toil seven days a week, 12 hours a day for peanuts and show all you Kiwis what hard work is.

Not only that, but we've gathered together all our old folk and we're bringing them with us to pay no tax and cash in our your super-generous superannuation. Just ask Winston.

Shearer last week pledged to make it harder for foreigners to get jobs, to give unemployed Kiwis top priority.

Unfortunately, he went off-half cocked with that dog-whistle promise just as migration to New Zealand fell. In the year to August there was a 2 per cent drop in the number of permanent and long-term migrants.

He also made his desperate pitch in Christchurch, which has job growth, and needs an extra 30,000 workers to rebuild. Migrants are expected to bring an estimated $500 million to the city.

In times of economic crisis and soaring unemployment, migrants are the usual scapegoat. In United States elections, immigration is a perennial hot-button issue. In the run up to the last British election, David Cameron imposed a disastrous immigration cap, that is said to cost his economy up to $6 billion a year. And in the recent French presidential elections, Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration policies received a surge of support in the midst of the eurozone crisis.

Shearer has picked up the same migrant-bashing drum that MP Darien Fenton has been banging on lately. They are both blithely ignoring economic realities to pick up a few redneck votes.

Many of New Zealand's industries depend on migrant workers: hospitality, agriculture, viticulture, construction, healthcare, tourism. The IT/high tech sector struggles to fill vacancies.

Curtailing immigration would see businesses fail as they lost valuable skilled expertise and demand fell. A crackdown often leads to a spike in illegal immigration.

Shearer's also ignoring the dynamism, the innovation, and the ideas that often spring from migrants. According to the 2006 census, $8.1 billion was brought into the country by migrants.

But the message to James Cameron, Bill Foley and their like is to bugger off. Under a Labour government you'd be made to feel as welcome as that other infamous interloper Kim Dotcom.

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Migrants have long made up the fabric, the colourful patchwork, that is New Zealand society. But I'm sure it's much more fun to grab a flag and march on Parliament with the National Front, than hang out at an Asian market or an Indian cultural festival at the weekend.

So, by all means, Shearer, blockade the airports, lock down the ports and prepare for a contraction of GDP.

I'll close the door on my way out.

- Disclaimer: Andrea Vance immigrated to New Zealand in 2009 and stole not only a job, but one of your men.

- (Live Matches)

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