The Green Party believes shaving 5000 residency approvals off migration numbers doesn’t go far enough.
The Government’s target of between 85,000 and 90,000 a year for the next two years has been criticised as a token gesture.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw told TV3’s The Nation a sustainable policy should be based on about 1 percent of population growth.
“We think that the country needs a more sustainable immigration policy, so what we’d do is set a variable approvals target based on a percentage of the overall population. That would be at about 1 percent of the population, which is historically how fast New Zealand’s population has grown.”
Mr Shaw says the policy would even out peaks and troughs in annual migration numbers.
I don’t want this blog to be a place where I endorse various Green Party policies, but this one touches on a couple of things I’ve been thinking about for a while.
A few months ago I was discussing politics with a chemist who supported National. He liked the fact that John Key changed his mind about things. ‘Half of what I learned about science as an undergraduate has been proved wrong,’ he said. ‘I’ve had to change my mind and keep changing my mind my whole career. That’s what intelligent people do.’
I think Key’s tendency to blow with the wind has more to do with political expediency than intellectual honesty, and I said so. But I agree that the ability to change your mind is an important trait, and since then I’ve been trying to think of recent instances in which I’ve changed my mind on political issues, and I couldn’t really think of any, which worried me a bit.
But the whole Brexit debate did make me wonder why I supported a high level of immigration. The standard left-wing take on this is that immigration is a good thing, because it is, and anyone who disagrees is a racist and a xenophobe. Now, there are also economic arguments for immigration: it boosts GDP, it keeps the Labour market competitive, it is (possibly) an antidote to an ageing population with low birthrates and high superannuation liabilities. But none of them are very left-wing, or progressive, and some of them are notions the left should probably oppose. If there’s a coherent left-wing argument for high immigration – other than claiming that anyone opposing it is evil – then I haven’t heard it. It seems more coherent – to me – for an environmental party to argue for levels of immigration that are sustainable. And, if voters feel that high migration is causing problems – house prices, high demand on schools and infrastructure, etc – I feel like the left needs a more robust answer than ‘Shut up and stop being racist.’ If that’s all we’ve got then maybe we’re just wrong?