Migration Myth Busting

September 2, 2016
Iain MacLeod

A few months ago I was approached as an ‘immigration expert’ by a local documentary maker, Nigel Latta, who does some very solid myth busting TV series, to take part in a programme he was making about immigration to New Zealand.

I was at first a little reluctant and wanted to know what the angle was, given most migrant stories tend to err on the side of the negative – migrants steal jobs, migrants are to blame for expensive houses, migrants don’t like to assimilate, migrants are a net user of health and education services – all the usual garbage peddled by the ignorant and the politicians who pander to that sort of uninformed bigotry. The Americans have Donald Trump, the brits Nigel Lafarge, the French Marie Le pen and we have Winston Peters and his NZ First Party.

I was assured this was not going to be anything other than an exercise in trying to shine some light on these issues.

I agreed to take part.

I have to say if you are living in New Zealand I urge you to watch it. It is on TV One next week but is also available On Demand’ and you can access it here. I am hoping it will soon also be on Youtube because it is, without any doubt, the most informed bit of grown up and dispassionate discussion on immigration to NZ that I have ever seen. It is well worth an hour of your time.

Without wishing to spoil the show, what is quite clear is that New Zealand’s immigration system is carefully targeted; skilled migrants don’t take jobs from locals, demand for English speaking skilled migrants is real and of benefit to NZ (and the migrant), they are not blame for rising house prices, they can be the victims of racism (but thankfully that is happening less and less) and New Zealand needs these skills because we simply are not producing skills what we need locally.

Oh, and the Chinese will assimilate if we let them.

It is often argued that migrants are a cost to the country but this programme quotes some very interesting statistics on the net dollar gain (or loss) of various migrants groups.

Topping the list with a net annual gain to the economy of around $5000 are the British. North Americans come in just behind them at a shade under $5000 per annum, third are ‘Asians’ at around $4500, Pacific Islanders around $2500 and who brings up the rear in terms of their net contribution to the local economy? New Zealanders. At around $950 per year.

Although not quoted I suspect, based on language and culture, that South Africans probably come in at the same level as North Americans.

Nigel Bickle, the head of Immigration New Zealand, does a very effective job of explaining why our system is designed the way it is and it might surprise many that our policies are based on solid research. I have to agree.

All those that think that perhaps we don’t need the migrants we let in or they do not add very much economically or socially should watch this very informative bit of television.

It’ll be a bit of surprise for anyone that has never been an immigrant but less so those of you who are.

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