Why is New Zealand sick of Jacinda Ardern?

In the lead-up to the September 2017 New Zealand general election, Labour promised to reduce immigration by around a third by cutting the numbers of work and student visas:

…in recent years our population has been growing rapidly as record numbers of migrants arrive here. This has happened without the Government planning for the impact immigration is having on our country… This has contributed to the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to the congestion on roads.

…we will take a breather on immigration. We will do this by making sure that work visas are not being abused to fill low-skill, low-paid jobs, while ensuring that businesses can get the skilled workers they need…

In total, these changes are estimated to reduce net migration by 20,000-30,000. Without these changes there would be up to 10,000 more houses needed and up to 20,000 more vehicles on our roads annually. Our immigration system will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is functioning well.

As shown in the table above, Labour promised to slash work visas by between 14,000 and 20,000 places per annum, whereas student visas were also to decline by between 6,000 to 10,000.

On Friday, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released data showing that work and student visas hit decade highs in 2019, thus shattering Labour’s election commitment:

Figures complied by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (Immigration NZ is part of MBIE) show that just under a quarter of a million (248,910) work visas were approved last year, up 5% compared to 2018 and up 49% compared to 2010.

Student visas were also up but not as strongly, with 108,645 approved last year, up 4% compared to 2018 and up 13% compared to 2010…

MBIE also keeps track of the number of migrants entering or leaving the country and this data shows that at the end of December 2019 there were 424,965 people in this country on work, residence or student visas. However the residence visa numbers are understated because MBIE stops counting them after five years and treats them as citizens.

The number of people on work, residence or student visas was up 28% compared to December 2014, giving an increase of 93,564 over five years.

The biggest growth over that period was in work visas, with 196,410 people in New Zealand on work visas at the end of December last year, up 73% compared to five years earlier.

The number of work visas issued is likely to rise further given Labour recently expanded access to lower-wage temporary migrant workers for New Zealand businesses:

The Government has announced plans to make it easier for employers to bring temporary workers into the country.

And it has also announced a reversal of the previous clampdown by the National Government in 2017 on families of lower paid temporary workers being allowed to also come into New Zealand…

Lees-Galloway says the new rules “will assist around 25-30,000 businesses get the workers they need to fill skills shortages”…

The Government will reinstate the ability for lower-paid foreign workers to support their partner and children to come to New Zealand for the length of their visa. This was restricted in 2017…

Dependent children of a lower-paid worker will have access to primary and secondary education as subsidised domestic students.

Labour also recently announced that it would increase foreign seasonal workers by over 3,000 to 16,000:

The Government says it will provide more support for the country’s horticulture and viticulture sectors with an increase in the quota for seasonal workers.

“For the first time we are announcing a two-year increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) quota. This will help address industry concerns that a lack of certainty on RSE numbers makes it hard for them to plan for labour needs and accommodation requirements,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.

He says it will see the cap on the number of temporary visas that can be granted for foreign seasonal workers rise by 3,150 over two years to 16,000.

Accordingly, broad sectors of New Zealand’s economy will be given easy access to low-paid migrant workers. Migrants paid below the median $52,000 wage will also be permitted to bring their partners and children along for the ride, with taxpayers subsidising their children’s education.

The loosening in visa requirements comes despite Iain Lees-Galloway in 2016 scolding the National Government for ignoring systemic exploitation of migrant workers, which he claimed is eroding New Zealand wages:

“…exploitation of migrant workers is pervasive in New Zealand… migrant workers continue to report high levels of abuse, intimidation, underpayment, debt bondage, and a host of other exploitative employment practices… it is the same industries—dairy farming, fishing, hospitality, horticulture, construction, and international education—that keep coming up as the most exploitative… migrant exploitation has a chilling effect on wages and conditions for all workers in those sectors… too many employers rely on exploiting migrant workers so that they can avoid paying decent wages and meeting basic employment standards”…

Jacinda Adern has clearly broken her election commitment to reduce immigration by paring back work and study visas. This ties in with her total failure and lies about redress for housing affordability.

This is why New Zealand voters dislike Ardern despite her popularity elsewhere. They have to live with the consequences of her lies.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Voters have no alternative, though, all parties support mass immigration and even Winston Peters has sold out.
    Face it, like Australia there is no way to stem the floods of migrants.

    • After listening to the Nucleus podcast with Christopher Joye, I’m convinced there won’t be any large cuts to immigration for a decade or more. Given the choice seems to be high immigration vs. Japanification, it’s not hard to guess which way policy makers will lean.

      • Are you suggesting our mass immigration program is to tackle the aging population, because I thought the average age of migrants is older than locals? We effectively give PR to those arriving at the age of 50 (45 application limit, with 5 years to process) – whilst they still qualify for the aged pension at 67.

        Surely that aging population myth has been put to rest?

        • No, I’m just talking about numbers of people. “They” will want to keep immigration higher than historical norms to keep GDP and inflation positive.

        • Arthur Schopenhauer

          Stagnation. Printing money. Propping up indigenous corporations. Asking everyone to sacrifice for the good of the nation. Aging population. No immigration.

          Low unemployment and rising wages, 30 years after their property bubble burst.

          They have a cohesive first world society. Well done Japan.

      • Fox and the Hound

        We’re going high immigration and Japanification, soon to be called Australiafication.

    • The90kwbeastMEMBER

      I agree.

      This is why I keep asking MB to analyse how if we can’t change mass immigration, how do we decentralise our country to cope with it.

      • Arthur Schopenhauer

        With longer hotter summers, it’s only possible to decentralize along the coast.
        Not going to happen without a lot of incentives. And even then, it’s all about water, water and water.

        • The90kwbeastMEMBER

          It’s about many things indeed, but if there is a will there is a way. Between Newcastle and the Gold coast is nearly 700km of mostly small towns , Coffs Harbour the biggest at 70k population. Either one or more of these towns needs to be developed or new ones built entirely. Sunshine coast to Rockhampton is 550km.

          All of this stretch of land is in a highly desirable climate, the further north you go the less risk of drought there is also.

        • bolstroodMEMBER

          Water, water rising water That skinny strip of land between the waters edge and the Great dividing range will get skinnier by the decade, encroaching ocean and rising river heights. Mean time the great divide gets drier and drier.Our food will have to come from the coastal strip, don’t cover it in concrete and subburbs.
          The big V may thin us out , but CC will make Australia a very unpleasant place to live.
          We will not even have a wine industry. All our tiples will be grain sourced.

  2. We’re all fcuked. As a young bloke I never would’ve dreamed these wonderful places would turn into such sh1tholes.

    • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

      Same here, I had no idea Sydney would become an Indian and Chinese shythole in 2 decades

  3. Have we seen a change in the Ardern character over the last few days? Her confrontation with Morrison over the deportation issue might indicate so. It’s the first time she’s dared to challenge the status quo.
    As is noted above, there is no viable alternative for Kiwis to choose between.
    Love him or hate him at least Americans might get a clear choice between Trump, and Sanders.
    New Zealand needs a “Trump'”someone who will stick to their promises regardless, but Ardern comes from a political family and has been ‘one of them’ all her life, so the chances of it being her are slim. That leaves us with Simon Bridges….and God Help Us if that’s the best we can do!

  4. I think everyone is forgetting the most important point. She wore a head scarf once. I don’t see how anyone could expect anything more.

    • The90kwbeastMEMBER

      Nothing like some good old virtue signalling as you pointed ouf to cover the various issues not addressed as per the above analysis by MB

    • JunkyardMEMBER

      Being woke will only get a handful of votes from the blue haired land whales, assuming they can drag themselves off Twitter for more than 30 seconds.

    • And a lovely headscarf it was!

      Let’s not look into the point she supported dubious gun policy, to get in to power.

  5. Here is the problem they have in Europe ! …

    Germany and Spain scramble to reverse the flight of youth … The Guardian


    EU vows action as free movement and ageing create ‘youth deserts’ in eastern and southern parts of Europe … read more via hyperlink above …
    Is ‘immigration a major political issue in New Zealand ? Read the latest New Zealand Ipsos Issues Monitor released early December …

    Ipsos NZ Issues Monitor November 2019


  6. Jumping jack flash

    “Jacinda Adern has clearly broken her election commitment to reduce immigration by paring back work and study visas. This ties in with her total failure and lies about redress for housing affordability.”

    When will our leaders learn? You can’t make promises that mess with the foundations of the New Economy. It simply isn’t allowed. Nor would anyone want to.

    You can’t reduce immigration! Migrants facilitate wage theft which allows the incomes of the rich to rise while prices can remain stagnant so the plebs, whose incomes are flat and falling, can still afford to live. If you upset that balance then it will only result in pain for someone. The rich won’t be able to afford more debt and the economy will collapse under the weight of existing debt, or the poor start starving as prices rise to pay the increased incomes, or plebs lose their jobs altogether which has pretty much the same effect.

    You can’t lower house prices, it is the wrong approach to housing affordability. Due to the fantastic property valuation model, you also can’t build cheap slum houses next to any house that already has debt attached to it. There are only a couple of approaches to housing affordability that can actually work. One is to unlock larger amounts of debt with the same income, the other is to make the block sizes smaller while still maintaining the same land value/m^2 or hopefully more.

    • Torchwood1979

      Yep. Political promises have always been “core” and “non core” but any political party that talks of lowering immigration or doing something about “affordable housing” can be dismissed as utter BS from the get go.

      • Jumping jack flash

        Yes the old “core promise” is a great card to play.

        It is far too tricky to modify any of the New Economy’s pillars of debt, immigration and house prices, or anything that could possibly affect anything to do with them.

        In fact promising to do anything at all is a sure path to total failure. It is obvious the status quo must be maintained at all costs.

        The last Aust. Election should be enough proof of that:

        Say nothing, do nothing, and make no promises to do anything in the future – winning and breeze to victory.
        Promise to attempt to fix one or more fairly insignificant aspects of parts of the system [that may or may not affect house prices] – widespread panic and total fail.

        • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

          Australia doesn’t want a Labor government. Where you have all the negatives of LNP plus a dozen more.

    • Why are BB so gun ho on keeping their inflated (and relatively unearnt) residential house prices up?

      Is it just ego or is their a fair practical reason to have it remain up?

      How many are really selling up, downsizing and cashing in for a better retirement?

        • Does the rising equity serve as an ATM to finance holidays, nail salon and day spa trips and jetskis?

  7. Narapoia451MEMBER

    The voters might be sick of Jacinda – but National is worse.
    At least NZ has MMP but it hasn’t helped the smaller parties make a difference in key areas like housing or immigration.

  8. bolstroodMEMBER

    Attitudes may change when people find their is no bed at the hospital for them when the bigV strikes.
    Our infrastructure has not kept pace with the Big Australia project. Now we will feel it.