It must be election year.
It must be election year, because every political party has just started blowing an anti-immigration dog whistle.
It started with scare stories of “boat people,” “revealed” by a Sunday Star Slime as desperate for readers as David Cunliffe is for voters, and before we knew it the blame for the economic downturn, hospital waiting lists, souring race relations and the housing crisis were all being laid at the feet of those dirty migrants.
“Maori have a unique position in New Zealand and advancing their cultural and social needs must be put ahead of the needs of immigrants,” said Maori Party leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, responding to a poll showing Maori dislike Asian immigrants more than any other group of New Zealanders.
National's Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye just sent home to die a young Fijian man on dialysis, despite having a family here ready to donate a kidney and a community raising money for the transplant. “He was here unlawfully,” said an unregretful Kaye.
Mana’s John Minto suggests we yell 'Buggar off' (sic) to foreign investors and foreign workers. It’s about 'self-respect,' says the man once opposed to Racist Tours.
Labour’s Phil Goof has a member's bill to be debated in the coming weeks which would tighten the rules for foreigners buying farm land.
And now Labour leader David Cunliffe has taken his party’s hardest line yet against immigrants. The former Immigration Minister blames them for the house crisis, with the Greens’s Russel Norman quietly saying “me too.” Immigration levels are a 'bubble', Cunliffe told Radio NZ this morning, using words without any reference to their meaning.
How on earth can immigration be in a 'bubble'? A bubble is something that keeps inflating because it keeps inflating, attracting more and more buyers as prices climb due to new buyers. Bubbles are usually due to bad policy and cheap money – like the Tulip Bubble or the South Seas Bubble. Or the housing bubble. This year’s immigration is not a bubble, it’s a blip. It’s up because net immigration is higher now – higher mostly because fewer NZers are leaving for a now-limping Australia – which doesn’t make it unsustainably, uncomfortably or irrevocably high.
And it doesn’t make them to blame for our bad housing policies. Nor does it make them a source of our misery – migrants who, for the most part, are coming here not to bludge but to live, and produce and invest. Who might just help make us richer.
Migrants who, unlike Cunliffe, Kaye and their ilk, are not parasites, nor intending to be.
Here’s Christy Moore: