Facts of immigration matter

Jason Krupp
Dr Rachel Hodder
Insights Newsletter
3 February, 2017

Six months ago, when we started scoping the Initiative’s immigration report, we had a very specific audience in mind: Winston Peters. Our aim was to assemble all the available research and have a fact-based conversation with New Zealand’s most prominent immigration sceptic.

Judging by Mr Peters’ comments on Facebook, which were re-published in the Indian News Link community newspaper, we have failed. Not only does it look as if the leader of NZ First failed to crack the cover of the report, but he also appears to be gathering his alternative facts from his local supermarket.

Mr Peters’ lack of engagement was not entirely a surprise, especially as this report set out to debunk many of the myths surrounding the topic, and put the real facts of the matter on the table.

Many of these myths are comfortable, such as migrants are to blame for the housing crisis in Auckland. Instead, our report showcased research showing that red tape, Nimbyism, and Kiwis choosing not to venture overseas have a bigger effect than foreigners on house prices.

It also dispelled the notion that if a migrant takes a job it means one fewer job available for native born New Zealanders. The truth is that migrants are consumers too, and their demand for goods and services create opportunities for New Zealand businesses. Viewed this way, migrants can create jobs.

We also found that while many people are concerned that high levels of migration will dilute New Zealand’s culture, most people who move here integrate well. They have good employment outcomes, low benefit uptake rates, and educate their children to a high level. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 migrants said they felt part of New Zealand.

Seen from this perspective, it is obvious why we called the report The New Zealanders: Why migrants make good Kiwis. Based on the widespread media coverage and messages of support we have received over the week, many people agree with this sentiment.

Mr Peters is clearly not a part of this group. But as Upton Sinclair said: “it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

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