Speaking on Morning Report today, Mr Key admitted high immigration was putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure, but the government would continue to bring in large numbers to fill jobs.
He said this was partly because many employers could not get New Zealanders to work due to problems with drugs or work ethic.
“We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying ‘well, OK, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke’s Bay, and so why can’t we get them to pick fruit’, and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme.
“But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won’t pass a drug test, some of these people won’t turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on.
I can understand why you’d want drug tests for forestry jobs, or other high risk industries – but why on earth would you drug test fruit-pickers? Is someone who smoked pot in the weekend really unqualified to pick apples? It seems like a totally pointless barrier to entry: the creation of a spurious problem, the solution to which – higher unemployment, higher welfare costs, higher immigration, increased infrastructure costs – can all be avoided by simply letting potheads pick some fruit.
As for people not turning up for work and having health problems, these seem like the completely predictable and widely predicted results of folding the sickness benefit into the unemployment benefit. Yeah, people with chronic illnesses are gonna have health issues. What Key seems to be saying here is that Paula Bennett’s extremely expensive welfare reforms have been a catastrophic failure.