Barry Soper: Political spat on immigration heat

Okay the immigration heat's on but English says it's an indication of the economy's success. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Okay the immigration heat's on but English says it's an indication of the economy's success. Photo / Jason Oxenham

We've heard it before but from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Helen Clark once lamented that she was the victim of her own success which she's not quite so chirpy about at the moment.

But now it seems the sentiment's rubbed off. The Dipton drawler Bill English was responding to questions about a net migration gain of almost 70 thousand last year, not far short of the population of Palmerston North.

Okay the immigration heat's on but English says it's an indication of the economy's success, saying if there's one thing worse than people turning up in your country, it's people leaving. Kiwis are no longer leaving the country in droves and he says the Beehive views that as a measure of its success.

Just to put the migration gain of 69 thousand into some sort of perspective. Kiwis coming home increased by nine thousand to 31 thousand, Aussies moving here doubled from five to ten thousand while all others increased by 28 thousand, half of which were on student visas and the other half on work visas.

Labour's Andrew Little waded into the argument, asking what's up then with sixteen thousand kiwi labourers listed as being on the dole while we've imported six and a half thousand foreigners to do their jobs for them. Yeah well, you've got to drill down into the figures to see in what areas the labourers are working and whether their kiwi counterparts are willing to do the job or move to a place where the spade hits the dirt.

Find that out and you might have the basis for a decent argument.

Just as Labour's purse string puller Grant Robertson should have done when he shot out a press statement, in advance of unemployment figures out today. Robertson accused the Government of massaging the figures by saying they'll no longer regard people as actively seeking work if they're hunting for jobs on websites.

Because they're now removed from the equation, have become forgotten souls by a heartless Government, he's predicting today's figures will show a further drop in unemployment.

But the faceless bureaucrat on the end of his rant, Government Statistician Liz MacPherson was prepared to stand up and be counted.

Asserting her independence from the Beehive, she says she's got the right to make changes to bring this country into line with international best practice.

To be actively regarded as looking for a job, you must do more than simply look at job ads, whether it's online or in the newspaper, she protested.

Now that is a decent argument!

- Newstalk ZB

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