Can anyone take the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on migration seriously after today?
They’ve just put out their draft report into the impact of migration on New Zealand productivity and one of their recommendations is to favour residency for migrants who learn Te Reo Māori.
Do any of us actually believe that being able to speak Te Reo Māori is going to make any of these migrants any more productive?
I'm not knocking the Māori language. You know I've spent years learning it. But it’s not even in my top 20 most necessary skills for a migrant.
We don’t have the luxury to be pontificating on nonsense like this at the moment.
We are going to need migration quick smart once we open the borders.
Our unemployment rate at 3.4 per cent points to a massive problem with skills shortages which is probably now at crisis point.
We’ve heard this from employers across all kinds of sectors: tech, dairy, construction, health, horticulture.
It’s going to get miles worse once we open our borders because a whole bunch of young Kiwis will head off overseas immediately.
At that point, when our employers are even more desperate than they are now, hands up who’s going to say we better not let builders or doctors become residents because they aren’t learning Te Reo Māori.
Suggesting this kind of thing just opens the Productivity Commission up to ridicule.
That's a pity because there’s actually some genuinely good stuff in the draft report.
For example, the Commission knocks on the head the argument that migrants drop Kiwis’ wages. That is such an important point because that has been Labour Government’s argument for cutting off migration.
The Productivity Commission says no, on average, that doesn’t happen.
Also, the Commission recommends that we need to build enough infrastructure to be able to handle the numbers of migrants we expect.
Few of us would argue with this given that we’ve all seen the stress our schools and roads are under and we’re all acutely aware of the fact that we don’t have enough houses for ourselves, let alone new arrivals.
But we’re not talking about that, are we? We’re talking about migrants needing to learn Te Reo because the Productivity Commission got itself weirdly distracted. How disappointing.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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