by Don Franks
Assumptions in an article on immigration numbers dropping show the crude capitalist values of our media:
“The question of immigration has always been a difficult balancing act for New Zealand’s political parties.
“On one hand, businesses need workers and with a relatively low unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent, there are not enough workers to satisfy the demand.
“On the other hand, there has been an ongoing debate over how many new migrants is too many for the country’s infrastructure, with new arrivals putting pressure on existing housing stocks, health resources and schools.”
1/ When discussing immigration, the central question isn’t human needs of people seeking a better life but the needs of businesses.
2/ An unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent is dismissed as “relatively low”. That 4.4 percent represents thousands of deprived people, unable to live above bare existence level. We’ve become conditioned to accept a section of our society being denied the right to earn a decent living.
3/ “There are not enough workers to satisfy the demand”. Yes, numerous labouring jobs in New Zealand are hard to fill because the pay offered for them is too low. Not because New Zealand workers are too fussy, we are country full of low paid people. Unicef’s definition of poverty in New Zealand is households who earn less than 60% of the median national income – $28,000 a year, or $550 per week. By that measure, there are around 682,500 people in poverty in this country or one in seven households.
4/ “There has been an ongoing debate over how many new migrants is too many for the country’s infrastructure, with new arrivals putting pressure on existing housing stocks, health resources and schools.”
Such debate has been caused by ongoing anti immigrant agitation, especially by NZ First and Labour politicians. The article repeats, as if it were fact, charges of negative immigrant pressure on housing, health and education. Incoming people actually contribute in these fields rather than the reverse. There is some acknowledgement of this later in the article where an electrical engineer from India is quoted:
“My job is designing emergency communications systems for the fire service and coast guards. I am helping to save lives of the people of New Zealand”. Inhumane restrictions on elderly immigrants mean he can’t bring his parents here to care for them.
“I feel like my family is treated like intruders. New Zealand didn’t spend a cent on my education, my parents did. They invested in me, which means they invested in New Zealand and now New Zealand says they can’t come here.
That mentioned in passing, the article concludes, as if it was a natural law, by underlining the priority of capitalist requirements:
“Where New Zealanders will see the full articulation of Labour’s ‘breather on immigration’ will be in the final construction of it’s employer assisted work visa programme, expected to be announced in the middle of this year. It will be a difficult balancing act for the party to ensure it stays true to its promise to reduce immigration while also not upsetting business interests.”