Migration – so who’s right?
Is it $15 billion or near zero?
A British myth about the real value of immigration could worry New Zealand and pose a serious question: Is immigration really the great cash cow our Beehive bureaucrats and MPs claim it to be? Are our official figures right?
A study made for Immigration NZ by highly-regarded Business and Economic Research Ltd has no doubt.
The BERL report says the country’s near-million migrants contributed $8101 million to the economy through taxes, GST and excise duties in 2006.
And that in the same year government spending on them, including education, health, benefits and allowances, was only $4813 million. Which sounds a pretty good deal.
Certainly better than the newly-released finding by a House of Lords economic committee inquiry that a claimed $NZ15 billion benefit from migration to Britain is hopelessly wrong, that the real impact on the UK economy is close to zero.
If that’s right, the Lords should have come here to see just why our outcome seems so much better.
Or if, somehow, we’ve got it wrong?
Instead, they concluded that in their case the cost to Britain of migrant education and health in particular has been understated.
Experts told them no real account had been made for the effect of European career crime rings, security, the race relations process and what has been labelled “health tourism” – travel to take advantage of the hospital system.
The report called for curbs on further migration and criticised a government scheme to increase the UK population by 190,000 a year.
That was likely to have serious impacts on public services and housing.
The Lords slated the government for “irrelevant and misleading” use of “seriously inadequate” economic statistics to justify the inflow of migrants.
Among the report’s findings: • Migration could price millions of Brits out of the housing market over the next 20 years • Many UK schools are struggling to cope with their rapidly-rising rolls of migrant children who do not speak English as a first language.
Lord Wakesham, a former energy minister, summed up: Ministers risk stoking social tensions with policies “which don’t make sense”.
This verdict and the apparent clash with New Zealand findings comes while Britain tries to cope with the virtual open borders regime forced on it by the EU – migrants have all but trebled in the last 10 years to one in every eight UK workers.
Only half-funny jokes about how many East European plumbers now work in Britain and the impact of that move on their original home communities tell their own story.
The classic repeated in Moscow is how a Russian would-be new car buyer was told he could expect his car delivered on September 1, 2010.
He shook his head sadly.
“I can’t collect it then, I’ve got a plumber due that day.”
The critical report doesn’t come from fuzzy-minded old gentlemen woken from their armchair slumber in cushy London clubs.
Former chancellors and Cabinet ministers were in the group which tried and failed to balance the pluses and minuses of the largest wave of migration in British history.
At the same time, British society is coping with the worst brain drain in 50 years – one Brit left every three minutes in 2006, that’s 207,000, the highest in the OECD.
More than a million British graduates are making a career overseas, a third of them with science and engineering degrees.
So we are far from having it on our own.
With differences in scale, the same trends are obvious here – doctors leaving Third World communities who need them to come here for a new life, replacing our doctors who are going for the First World big money overseas, an Auckland hospital ward staff with 18 nationalities represented on its duty rosters.
Then there’s the prospect of a thousand Chinese nurses, tradespeople and labourers coming into New Zealand under the small print of the China free trade agreement.
And while the gladhanding was going on in Beijing, thousands of Brits were getting their own share of Kiwi charm and suggestions they should come too at migration seminars in Britain.
The whole world seems to be on the move.
Back to those believeChina trade figures.
Which did you believe – the first “expert” estimates of $150 million coming our way, a figure which seemed to double within hours and even triple to guesses of $600m, almost before the ink was dry, the last hand was shaken and the last toast was downed?
Or did those ballooning totals come from the same official sources as that confi matter of $600m in taxes which seemed wrongly to have gone astray recently, then the debacle of the government’s $4.2 billion cash surplus apparently seeping away?
From Paul Holmes: “No Chinese we met has any doubts about Tibet.
“Even our guides, liberal, charming, frank people all of them, think the Dalai Lama is a trouble-maker and that Tibet belongs to China.”
So there! That settles that then.
Surprisingly, no Chinese government civil servant – liberal, charming and frank people – bad-mouthed party policy to foreigners.
How totally unexpected!
To contact Pat Booth email: offpat@snl. co.nz. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.