Tuesday 25 July 2017

Voter Motivators 2017: Immigration.

A Big Wide World Out There: Familiarity with “foreign” cultures has rendered “foreigners” a lot less frightening to young New Zealanders than old ones. New Zealanders raised entirely in the globalisation era know there’s a big wide world out there – a world which values highly the Kiwi’s celebrated ability to get along with just about anybody. Racism no longer pays.
IMMIGRATION has set the world on fire. The debt owed by both Brexit and Trump to the issue’s inflammatory power is huge. With record volumes of migrants pouring into New Zealand, immigration policy is widely expected to be among the biggest voter motivators of 2017.
But will New Zealanders react to these new arrivals in the same way as British and American voters? Or will the circumstances underpinning this country’s record migration flows smother the flames of racism and xenophobia before they take hold?
If New Zealand history is any guide, probably not. Net inward flows of migration have always been the signal of economic prosperity and growth. Just as net outward flows have been the surest sign that all is not well in God’s Own Country. There’s an ancestral voice in the racial memory of Pakeha New Zealanders which commands their attention during periods of rapid population growth. A voice which reminds them that, in these stolen islands, more non-indigenous people are always a good thing.
For Maori New Zealanders, the opposite is true. The more immigrants that arrive on these shores, the more the indigenous essence of Aotearoa-New Zealand is diluted. The Treaty the Maori chiefs signed with the British in 1840 seemed a wise and timely concession when barely 2,000 Pakeha were sprinkled lightly across their lands. Twenty years later, when the number of British settlers overtook the population of tangata whenua, the promises given at Waitangi proved to be as cynical as they were unenforceable.
What is it, then, which stops the latest population projections from Statistics New Zealand from setting the fern leaves of Kiwi nationalism alight? Released on 18 May 2017, these projections indicate that over the next 20 years the number of immigrants from East and South Asia will double. By 2038 the number of New Zealanders of “Asian” ethnicity will represent nearly a quarter of the country’s population. Maori, by contrast, will see their share of the population rise by just 2 percentage points – from 16 to 18 percent. “European” New Zealanders’ share of the overall population is projected to fall from roughly three-quarters to two-thirds.
In times past, projections such as these would have generated a massive public backlash against the political party, or parties, responsible for such a dramatic reconfiguration of the nation’s ethnic profile. Twenty years ago, media headlines decrying an “Asian Invasion” were exploited by Winston Peters’ to secure 13 percent of the Party Vote for his NZ First Party. Why, then, twenty years later, is NZ First not polling twice or three times that number?
The explanation is, almost entirely, economic.
Chinese immigration has encouraged Auckland property prices to soar – producing a “wealth effect” (courtesy of tax-free capital gains!) for which, justifiably or unjustifiably, Chinese investors are held responsible. Bolstering this shift in perception across the entire country has been the steady rise in China’s consumption of New Zealand’s exports. Rather than bite the hand which is, increasingly, feeding them, many Kiwis have considered it more prudent to retire the worst of their old prejudices.
In regional New Zealand, likewise, the sterling contribution of Filipino dairy farm workers is encouraging a hitherto undetected enthusiasm for multiculturalism.
Even in the working-class heartlands, the money to be made hiring-out the spare room to overseas students is often enough to defang traditional blue-collar hostility towards “low-wage workers” flooding “their” labour market.
The other factor which explains New Zealanders reluctance (so far!) to respond to nationalistic dog-whistles is the sheer number of Kiwis who have travelled overseas. Familiarity with “foreign” cultures has rendered “foreigners” a lot less frightening to young New Zealanders than old ones. New Zealanders raised entirely in the globalisation era know there’s a big wide world out there – a world which values highly the Kiwi’s celebrated ability to get along with just about anybody. Racism no longer pays.
None of which should be advanced as evidence that racism and xenophobia will find no purchase in the forthcoming general election. There are many thousands of New Zealanders who feel like strangers in their own land. Who miss the comforting homogeneity of the sleepy, white, British dominion in which they were raised. Such voters are, however, a dwindling asset for all but the NZ First Party. Only Winston can afford to make “A Whiter Shade of Pale” his theme song.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 9 June 2017.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

A national radio this morning, a restaurant owner and a farmer explaining why we need to import workers for them. Apparently New Zealanders "don't want to" do the jobs. Surely capitalism suggests that if you can't get workers you increase the wages until you can? It's interesting though, because our local Polytech churns out cooks and waiters by the hundred every year. Perhaps it's just difficult to make ends meet in Auckland on $17 an hour.

David Stone said...

200 odd years ago the Brits mostly, moved 12 million African captured slaves all across the world to work in their plantations as the indigenous populations of the recipient countries didn't perform so well or so cheaply.
Years later when slavery had become non PC, they shifted Indian and Pakistani labourers around the pacific for the same purposes, indifferent to the interests of local populations.
Today the economic powers that be call the process "immigration", but the motivation and the effects remain the same.

Kat said...

Probably why Boris was here to bolster up commonwealth relations for a future flood of incoming Brits. Someone is bound to do a "what immigrant nationality do New Zealanders favour the most" TV show type question, just in time for the election perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Familiarity with “foreign” cultures has rendered “foreigners” a lot less frightening to young New Zealanders than old ones.
I doubt that. Ask any one who has taught languages in China or Japan and they will have observed the ethnocentrism (essential nature of people) from the other side.

Then on the other hand if we assume all such things are socially constructed we won't see that will we?

As for the economic benefits that is just population ponzi.

As for Filipino farm workers, while our social scientists have been concentrating on how to manipulate opinion on diversity, they appear to have written off the Kiwi working class. I don't hear Professor Spoonley defending the lazy, drug-addled Kiwi worker? On A Slice Of Heaven (RNZ) Spoonley called the situation win -win.

Anonymous said...

German media lost its objectivity during the influx of a million migrants and contributed to deep divisions in society by ignoring legitimate concerns, a hard-hitting academic study will say today.

Daily newspapers took on the role of public educators for Angela Merkel’s “welcoming culture” and failed in their role to scrutinise and cover all views, according to the report led by a former senior editor at Die Zeit weekly newspaper.

Mainstream media suppression of critical voices and its suspicion that those who did not support government policy were xenophobic helped drive some Germans into more extreme opposition, the report will say.

“A great proportion of journalists misjudged their professional role and neglected the investigative function of the media,” said Michael Haller, the editor who wrote the report, in advance of its publication…

“The so-called mainstream media” mainly backed Mrs Merkel’s generous refugee policies and uncritically took on “the slogans of the political elite”, Die Zeit added…

The report concludes that moralistic reporting by national and regional newspapers “massively contributed” to a loss of trust in the mainstream media and a split in German society.


Public Address

Nick J said...

There are thousands of "higher skilled" immigrants flooding in to IT roles in Wellington. At the same time there are Kiwi youth who understandably don't want to risk a huge student debt on the chance of getting one of these skilled roles. If employers paid proper wages and paid taxes so education was subsidized or free these youth might be working in roles that under current policies promote immigration. Immigrants are not the issue, it is the neolib policies that drive this sidelining of Kiwi youths futures in favour of "new Kiwis".

Polly said...

I do feel like a stranger in my own land, there is to much Chinese and Indian influx.
Many if not most of these immigrants have wealth above ordinary NZ'rs standards of wealth.
Many of these older immigrants use our social services including free transport without ever paying a penny in tax'es to our economy.
No wonder they think NZ is a easy touch, so more of their families arrive without serious checks at border, without thought by any authorities to our social services, schooling or personal relationships to the communities they make their own.
Immigrants use free money we supply to set up business's then only employ their own.
Many of them also scorn our poor and their disdain is often shown by arrogance to all NZ'rs.
We are a joke to ourselves but we do not seem to know the joke.
Immigrants do.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"There are thousands of "higher skilled" immigrants flooding in to IT roles in Wellington."
I know. They interviewed some of them on national radio. One, an American perfectly pleasant chap said he would love to come and live in New Zealand. But the same time, several people in my son's IT class still haven't got jobs, and he has one that basically leads nowhere. But at least it's a job as they say. And – someone on national radio this afternoon having the temerity to suggest that if you want to hire Kiwi workers perhaps you should pay higher wages. Couple of interviews with people saying that wages in the hospitality sector are crap. And as someone who has had something to do with those that train hospitality workers I must say, that unless you are in a management position with an upmarket hotel chain, or you are a chef in a pretty upmarket restaurant, wages ARE crap.
I notice that the restaurant owner they interviewed on national radio the other day said that these foreign workers have a great hand in training our New Zealand workers. See that's the thing, New Zealand companies don't want to train workers. They want trained workers for nothing. This has just about always been true, at least in my memory. Hence the government has always taken a fairly large hand in things like apprenticeships. Not since Douglas.

sumsuch said...

GS first comment. J.K.Galbraith, a fellow diasporic scot, hence my interest in him, ran the American economy with his little 'left' pinkie during WW II, thus his life-long disdain for the free market. He maintained the only area it applied was primary produce, which here in my province I can witness. Everyone here is oppressed by the supply chain , even if it's the prospect of bankruptcy for the owners and not enough sustenance and the physical violence that explodes in to for the workers.