If elected Labour plans to cut immigration by 20,000 to 30,000. This means fewer work visas, fewer student visas and certainly less residency visa.
Currently, a Labour government looks unlikely to happen with National showing an increase in popularity and Labour a decrease in popularity.
So, let's take a look at what could be driving such a radical position and what factors are at play here in NZ in relation to immigration.
Firstly as mentioned Labour are going into the election on the back foot and potentially they will need something radical to potentially wake up a voting sector. Radical statements such as cutting 30,000 immigrants a year will certainly do that.
What is this argument for less immigration potentially based on?
It is no secret that Auckland housing is becoming less and less affordable for the typical Kiwi home buyer.
2. JOBS FOR KIWIS
Another argument for cutting immigration is that it will protect NZ workers.
However, Once you look beneath the surface both these arguments are not as clear cut as Labour may have us believe.
Immigration is one of many factors pushing up Auckland house prices. Foreign investors (not within NZ) are a factor as is the migration from Christchurch to Auckland. The shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector is also inflating labour rates. Many skilled workers arriving in NZ that labour intends to cut are not in a financial position to buy in Auckland anyhow.
Regarding employment, it is significantly easier for an NZ employer to employ a worker within NZ. The skilled migrant work scheme is far more complex and costly process for the employer compared to recruiting locally. Additionally, the employer must prove they have exhausted the local recruitment possibilities. It’s safe to assume by the time the employer needs to recruit externally that in fact there are no Kiwis for that position. This is an argument that is near impossible to dispute within sectors such as hospitality and construction.
Final thoughts! Whilst any rapid increase in the population such as that Auckland is experiencing will stress the city logically and in some ways economically it brings within it a better future and in the case of NZ a very much needed one. As an Aucklander who has watched this city change over that last decades, it is obvious that this recent wave of immigration is shaping NZ for the better. Let's hope it continues.