Mike Hosking: Little's immigration 'breather' puts our economy in danger

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Andrew Little could bring the economy to it's knees. Photo / Michael Craig
Andrew Little could bring the economy to it's knees. Photo / Michael Craig

Andrew Little this week put his argument for slashing immigration down to "taking a breather".

Not dissimilar I suppose to David Lange and his cup of tea.

Little mentioned on the telly cutting net migration down to 20,000 a year, but he apparently has walked that back since and is relitigating it to "tens of thousands".

It's currently at record levels - a bit over 70,000.

The great frustration I have this election year is that just about everyone seems on board with some sort of adjustment.

Winston of course has been on about this for years and you can dismiss him because he is a minor player, and very little if any of his policy will ever get to see the light of day.

But Labour can potentially make this happen, and it will bring the economy to its knees.

The economic irresponsibility here is alarming.

Why?

Because half of the 70,000 involves New Zealanders and Australians.

No one wants to leave and lots want to come back and as a result of the laws between our two countries they can come and go as they please.

So to cut the overall numbers by tens of thousands what's Andrew telling them - they can't come back or in?

Has he told Malcolm Turnbull?

If Little wants to continue with the rules between our countries, even if he can get away with the 35,000 net gain from those two groups, there are going to have to be gargantuan cuts elsewhere, namely work visas. And student visas.

Under Labour's scheme we would have basically no one coming here on either of those visas.

How do you explain that to the industries which are already crying out for workers, and can't find them?

How do you explain that to the hospitality industry which on average take six months to fill a cafe or restaurant manager's position? How do you explain that to the trucking industry who have trucks parked up because they can't get anyone behind the wheel?

That's before you get to Berl's report last week telling us about the 200,000 people we need for the services sector alone.

Who's filling those jobs?

Labour argues locals can do it. Well even if that was true, which it isn't, there are only 132,000 of them, that's all the unemployed we have.

Even if you got every single unemployed person in this country up and into work you're still 70,000 short for the one sector alone.

Can we train people better? Of course.

Can we join the dots better at schools and tech institutions and point people into the right areas of employment? Yes.

But to even begin to imagine that you can take tens of thousands out of the economy, watch the services sector grow a further 200,000 and somehow fill all that demand locally, is not only mathematically impossible, it's economically dangerous even entertaining the idea.

And the reason they're entertaining the idea is because of xenophobia, and the fact it might be worth a few votes.

The Government isn't immune here either. Its adjustments the other day, although not in the same category of stupidity as Labour's, were nevertheless a sop to the rise of racist nonsense pedalled by a minority of those who believe immigrants come here and steal work and houses and somehow we're no better off.

Paul Spoonley, a well-known demographer, is doing some excellent work showing what a pile of bollocks all this narrow, racist-driven thinking is.

Look up his work, it shows immigrants add value, bring skills and jobs and investment, and head-for-head actually add more to a country than locals.

There is some competition at the bottom end of the job market for cheap labour but not much, and overall we are better off having them here than not.

This country is on a roll, this country is booming with literally more and more opportunity than we can fill, it's a statistical fact. And yet Andrew Little and his closed-minded mates want that wrecked by slamming the country's door shut.

- Newstalk ZB

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