Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Mike Hosking: Shutting NZ off to the world will cost us dearly

As I have said a number of times, my biggest frustration with this country at the moment is it is not what it could be.

And it's not what it has been. We lack an aspiration and determination to be great.

We are muddlers, we are dabblers and we are led from the top by a bunch of out of touch theorists who have provided an unprecedented amount of damage to our culture and economy. We have largely worked this out, that’s why the polls are where they are.

Those who voted Labour were conned. Unless, of course, you still love them, which you are entitled to do. But I wonder what there is to love.

The lack of delivery, the wastage in expenditure, the recession almost upon us, the housing crisis they never fixed, the taxes they have introduced and are yet to introduce, and today the immigration reset which will add another nail in the New Zealand economic coffin.

Our unemployment rate is 3.2 percent but the number on benefits is going up. So, it’s a con. Those who want work can get it simply because very few are allowed in any more. Businesses in every single sector are crying out for skills, talent, and just plain grunt.

Today, you will hear why having a lot of people arrive has been no good for us. They will talk of housing and infrastructure and they will talk about them as though they are connected things. But here is the trick, they never had to be. You could have built more houses to accommodate more people if you had wanted. They might want to look at the rules around housing consent and land access to solve that issue.

But what is indisputable about migration is that if you don't have it, you end up where we are right now. A brain drain, an inflationary crisis, an economy that’s stalled if not going backwards, a massive pile of debt, and an increasing reliance on sectors like farming to cover all the bills.

So today, the reset will dig us deeper into that hole.

It is hard enough already to get here given the visa process is a bust because of lack of staff and organisation. But in a world screaming out for skills we are lining ourselves up as a country that is moderately interested, but not overly. When you get that, you get a loss of demand. People can go anywhere and they will.

This is a small-minded government with a small world view and the result is we are shrinking. You need more people to do more things to make more money for more growth.

Yes, there is a balance. No, you don’t want to go nuts. But equally, closing us off and having a smaller number of people paying a greater share of an ever-increasing bill is a path to depravation, not a prosperous future.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.

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