Ki­wis are no longer hard­work­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - DUN­CAN GAR­NER, OPIN­ION

This will be an un­com­fort­able sub­ject for most Ki­wis – but it needs to be said.

We like to think of our­selves as hard­work­ing right? De­scen­dants of peo­ple who worked the land, that No 8 wire men­tal­ity and a will­ing­ness to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Aren’t we?

Maybe not. Maybe we’ve be­come a bunch of lazy sods.

No longer are we pre­pared to work all hours of the day and night for not much more than the min­i­mum wage.

Peo­ple from other coun­tries are flood­ing into the coun­try, des­per­ate for a fresh start – and they’re will­ing to do the jobs that peo­ple born here turn their noses up at. Wel­come to New Zealand. Where Ki­wis can’t be stuffed.

More than 150,000 Ki­wis still re­main un­em­ployed. More than 70,000 young peo­ple aged 15-24 are not in any form of ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment or training. That’s two West­pac Sta­di­ums full of young peo­ple do­ing jack-all.

So ei­ther we can’t be both­ered, or im­mi­grants are tak­ing our jobs. It’s a mix­ture of both. Last year we had a record net gain of more than 70,000 mi­grants. They are now a big part of the cen­tral eco­nomic plan. Some are New Zealan­ders re­turn­ing home but many, many of these peo­ple are pour­ing into the coun­try to fill these sup­posed skills-short­ages.

Last year we granted per­ma­nent res­i­dency to 213 for­eign bak­ers, 600 cafe/res­tau­rant man­agers, 132 ho­tel ser­vice man­agers and 683 re­tail man­agers. The list goes on and on and it’s laugh­able what rep­re­sents a ‘‘skilled’’ mi­grant these days. We even im­ported 121 painters from over­seas. Surely we can find 121 young Ki­wis to do those jobs.

We are bring­ing in low-skilled mi­grants to do min­i­mum-wage jobs that we can’t be both­ered get­ting out of bed for. All this is driv­ing down wages for ev­ery­one across the board. Wage growth is low, at just 1.6 per cent in the latest sur­vey. That’s be­cause for­eign­ers will work for low wages. Ki­wis won’t.

Last year we is­sued 200,000 work visas to for­eign­ers. At the same time around 300,000 Ki­wis were recorded as ei­ther un­em­ployed, or look­ing for more hours.

This week I spoke to the owner of a floor­ing com­pany, Derek Alexander - him­self an im­mi­grant. His work visa says he must em­ploy New Zealan­ders – and he’s try­ing, with­out much luck.

Ninety per cent of the staff he hires don’t even last a month. Floor­ing is hard work and the lo­cals are too soft, he reck­ons.

These Ki­wis can’t be ar­sed be­cause they drink too much booze, smoke too many drugs and are just damn lazy, he says.

A 23-year-old staff mem­ber, earn­ing $27.50 an hour, just walked out on the job af­ter three years – be­cause he couldn’t be both­ered work­ing on a Satur­day.

Derek has been ad­ver­tis­ing for a floor­ing con­trac­tor for a week – he’ll pro­vide the training – but so far he hasn’t had a sin­gle ap­pli­cant.

What on earth has hap­pened to us? No won­der business own­ers are turn­ing to for­eign­ers. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill English dipped his toe into this is­sue a few months ago, claim­ing some young New Zealand work­ers were ‘‘pretty damned hope­less’’.

But I largely agree with him on this. We do have a bunch of soft young jok­ers who ap­par­ently pre­fer wel­fare to hard work. No young New Zealan­der should be leav­ing school with­out a plan or a place to de­velop their po­ten­tial. If we don’t do some­thing we ac­cept the big­otry of soft and low ex­pec­ta­tions.

For a while there last week, the po­lit­i­cal land­scape looked like a 1960s flash­back what with cannabis re­form and the Viet­nam War back in the head­lines, again. Ac­cord­ing to the polls, two thirds of New Zealan­ders now sup­port ei­ther the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of cannabis or its le­gal­i­sa­tion, while an even higher pro­por­tion (82per cent) favour eas­ier ac­cess to cannabis for med­i­cal use.

The po­lit­i­cal re­sponse to this news how­ever, un­folded along en­tirely pre­dictable lines. New Zealand First called for a ref­er­en­dum – their usual solution to so­cial con­tro­ver­sies – on de­crim­i­nal­is­ing cannabis, a pro­posal that would keep the drug il­le­gal but leave its users li­able only for civil fines.

The Greens ad­vo­cated le­gal­i­sa­tion. Both ma­jor par­ties kicked for touch, us­ing the same cau­tion­ary ar­gu­ments heard since the 1960s – ie, think of the young peo­ple, what ex­am­ple would Par­lia­ment be set­ting, what about the need to treat users and sell­ers dif­fer­ently, be­fore long you’d have cannabis shops on ev­ery street cor­ner etc.

Few such con­cerns ap­ply of course, to the mar­ket­ing and sale of al­co­hol, where the sen­si­tive minds of the na­tion’s youth are treated as more ex­pend­able. As for the users vs sell­ers dis­tinc­tion, suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have been re­luc­tant to raise taxes sig­nif­i­cantly on al­co­hol mer­chants, to re­duce con­sump­tion.

Even al­copops, the gate­way drugs to al­co­hol mis­use by the young, have long been shielded from puni­tive tax­a­tion. Par­lia­ment’s re­luc­tance to em­brace the med­i­cal use of

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