Thursday, May 12, 2022

Heather du Plessis-Allan: The Government seems to have gone soft on slashing migration


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.


Terry Morrissey said...

"Here’s hoping they can back up their promise with delivery."FAT CHANCE!
We're talking the labour cult here,Heather, anything they get their greasy paws on turns to custard.

Anonymous said...

i think the bigger issue beyond 'picking winners' is the finicky nature of these 'preferential lists' - almost like the attention span of insta-generation. there seems to be no long term thought for skill augmentation. this is more evident in the case of specialist roles which might be the need of the hour and not the decade.
take 'multimedia specialist' or 'plumber (general)' as an example. how many do we need over the next few years? is there a limit per year or total? what happens once lots of plumbers are in? if building consents are held up due to land issues, what are they supposed to do? after the build backlog is over, where should they go? the narrower the skillset, the harder it is to cross over and be productive elsewhere.
perhaps a better idea to fill up short-term needs could be priority work visa processing up to a limit with 3-5 years permit and no employer tie-up. make the deal sweeter by reducing the income tax as they are not likely to receive welfare payments withing that timeframe. who knows - it might actually help get work done...

Anonymous said...

'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.'

the beauty of this statement is that you could replace the Wellington with any capital (Washington, London, Delhi) and Gore with any town (Memphis, Oxford, Surat) and it still works :)