We were warned it would only be tweaks but I was sorta hoping we might end up with an immigration policy that took into the account the fortunes of the people who already live here, y'know? That reflected the fact we actually haven't been coping with the numbers coming here.

Instead, the immigration changes will basically make sure wealthier people - I mean more highly skilled people - get to come to live in New Zealand - but it won't really bring down the record-high numbers.

So the Government has gifted us many more years of debating the impact of migrants and probably calling each other racists, because these changes won't fix the things people are worried about.

But I suppose we should be pleased we're seeing changes at all.


We might have the highest immigration rate per capita in the developed world but until yesterday the constant refrain from the Government has been immigration numbers are fine, don't worry! It's just Kiwis returning and it will come right soon enough so nothing to see here! Given they're changing them anyway it must, like, be an election year or something?

It's a classic case of the Government wanting to be seen to do something while not actually doing very much at all. We now have a shortage of all sorts of key infrastructure, record numbers coming - and no plan.

Auckland is bursting at the seams and what will these changes do to fix that? Er, nothing.

What will it do to reduce demand for houses that we already don't have enough of? Nothing. Lucky the Government's got such brilliant plans to sort out housing huh? Yeah, right.

It won't do anything to reduce the 825 cars that compound Auckland's traffic gridlock each week. This city is no longer just choked at rush hour but All. The. Time. All the time. It drives me crazy. Lucky we've got such a good plan to sort out congestion huh? Yeah, right.

Basically, these immigration changes won't do anything to rectify the fact that we've had decades of Governments, of both flavours, who didn't build houses when they should have been building houses, who didn't free up land when they should have been freeing up land, who weren't building roads and hospitals and public transport when they should have been building all of those things.

We're full! That's the reason our instinct now is to want to throw up the "No vacancy" sign. Even though we're usually welcoming people. Even though the country isn't technically full, even though businesses are desperate for migrants to fill certain kinds of skilled jobs.

So we will keep having this debate, over and over and over again, I reckon until the next global recession or whatever else makes migrants not want to come here anymore.

Because we've got an infrastructure backlog that no one seems interested in fixing and just twiddling with immigration means it's only going to get worse.

- Nadine Higgins is a host at Newstalk ZB