The Government has finally announced its long-awaited immigration reset in the last 3 hours.
So, here’s a first take on what it looks like:
Depending on what industry you’re in and what job you're trying to fill you are either stoked or gutted with today’s announcement.
Because that is really the theme here: picking winners.
So, if you’re stoked it’s because the job you’re trying to fill is on the green list which means you can get that migrant doctor or structural engineer or environmental research scientist into the country faster.
If you’re gutted, it’s because the job you need to fill isn’t on that list. And you might be surprised to know – given the much-discussed shortage of builders – qualified builders are not on the list. Nor are in demand web developers.
Picking winners is a dangerous thing to do. We've seen how that plays out.
You don’t even need to go back to the bad old days of Muldoon’s interference in the economy by picking winners to know it’s a bad idea.
Just look at the Labour government’s interference during the lockdown, picking supermarkets as winners and butchers as losers, allowing builders to work – winners – but not allowing manufacturers to work – losers – which meant the builders couldn’t do the jobs anyway because they didn’t have the gib they needed.
Having been through that, I don’t think any of us have confidence that a bureaucrat in Wellington knows what workers a business in Gore needs urgently or critically.
Now having said all of that, this announcement has surprised on the upside.
Mostly because the Government seems to have gone soft – at face value at least – on slashing migration hard.
Remember how Labour campaigned back in 2017 on cutting immigration back from 70,000 arrivals a year to 20,000 arrivals a year? Any reference to caps like that is gone.
Today, Labour is trying desperately to instead sound like they understand there’s a labour skills crisis and as if they're trying to bring in the emigrant workers we need.
That’s great. Let’s see how it plays out in practice.
Here’s hoping they can back up their promise with delivery.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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