Imagine Auckland in 2043.

Statistics NZ reckons there could be as many as 2.6 million of us crammed on to this tiny isthmus then.

That's a population increase of 50 per cent.

It means for every two people living here now, add another person. For every two cars, add another car. For every two houses, add another house.


In 2043 we'll still be jostling with each other to get around.

The light rail to the airport won't be built yet - construction will still be four years away.

The Harbour Bridge will probably still be the only crossing to the North Shore - a second crossing could be five years away.

The thought of all of this makes me cross because I've just walked in the door after 40 minutes in a creeping traffic jam from Manukau to the city. It's off-peak. That trip should take 20 minutes.

On Good Friday I spent two hours sneaking my way from Bombay down to Huntly. That trip should take 35 minutes.

Auckland cannot handle the people we have now, yet we keep cramming more in.

We let 71,000 immigrants into the country last year and almost as many are expected to come annually over the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the National Government won't be honest with us.

Be under no illusion, the immigration announcement this week was a classic example of trying to trick us. We were supposed to be fooled into thinking the changes will drop immigration numbers.

In line four of the press release Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said this would manage "the number ... of migrants coming to New Zealand".

It won't. Woodhouse was pressed on it and 'fessed up that, actually, the point isn't really to "materially reduce" the flow of immigrants.

He also tried to pretend that, even if he wanted to do more, he really couldn't because many of the migrants are "New Zealanders coming home and not leaving".

I checked the raw Statistics NZ figures. Woodhouse is not even a little bit right.

In the year to February, we lost a net 1700 Kiwis. Our net immigration is all made up of foreigners.

There are entire political science theories dedicated to explaining what the National Party is doing this year. They're simply neutralising issues ahead of the election.

These Government decisions are an attempt to shut down voter worries that could give Labour or NZ First something to campaign on.


So, if you feel strongly about something, they'll try to make you stop caring. Lifting the Superannuation age. Extra Police staff. Paying aged-care workers a decent wage. Cleaning up rivers. Light rail to Auckland airport.

All these Government decisions are an attempt to, one by one, shut down the kinds of voter worries that could give Labour or New Zealand First something to campaign on.

There's nothing wrong with stealing the other guy's ideas, but there is something wrong with dressing up those ideas as something more than what they are, and thus shutting up the cries for real reform.

I don't think the number of immigrants should be cut. I think we need their skills and their money.

But we also need to be picky about which ones we take, and we need to make some space for them.

That means we need to be honest about how many are coming and what we need to do to accommodate them.

Instead, the Government is cramming these people into crowded cities, allowing resentment to fester on clogged motorways and making it more and more likely that we will one day end up shutting the borders out of complete frustration.

Forget the immigration settings. That's clearly to hard for National to get right. Just build some public transport and houses.

Because, if you're letting in the population of Rotorua every year, then you need to build Rotorua every year, don't you?