Trans­port Fo­rum

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Contents -

Lat­est news from the Road Trans­port Fo­rum NZ, in­clud­ing….. im­mi­gra­tion no so­lu­tion to the driver short­age; nom­i­na­tions sought for 2017 NZ Road Trans­port In­dus­try Awards; close fin­ish in NZ Truck Driv­ing Cham­pi­onships qual­i­fier

THERE’S NOTH­ING MORE FRUS­TRAT­ING in pol­i­tics than be­ing the lone voice of rea­son in a de­bate dom­i­nated by pop­ulism and scare­mon­ger­ing. It’s like shout­ing into a hur­ri­cane: No mat­ter how hard you try, your voice is drowned out by the sheer vol­ume of dis­sent from the other side.

Un­for­tu­nately, this is ex­actly the po­si­tion that the road trans­port in­dus­try finds it­self in on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. As the driver short­age be­comes acute, es­pe­cially in Auck­land, it’s nat­u­ral that op­er­a­tors – un­der pres­sure to keep the wheels turn­ing – look to im­mi­gra­tion to help al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem.

The re­al­ity is how­ever that we’re on the wrong side of the na­tional de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy: Po­lit­i­cal par­ties are at the mo­ment com­pet­ing with each other for the an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion vote. The name of the game seems to be how far each of them can go to at­tract vot­ers ner­vous about the im­pact of high im­mi­gra­tion num­bers….be­fore they be­gin to alien­ate more peo­ple than they at­tract.

For a party like New Zealand First, with a long an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion his­tory, they can go as far as they like – their tra­di­tional sup­port­ers have long ac­cepted such views.

How­ever, with Labour and the Greens (both for­merly pro-im­mi­gra­tion par­ties) hav­ing jumped onto the an­ti­im­mi­grant band­wagon, it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that the whole tenor of the po­lit­i­cal de­bate has fun­da­men­tally shifted.

The chal­lenge for both Labour and the Greens is to walk a very fine line – be­tween what they per­ceive as a rich pool of dis­grun­tled vot­ers wor­ried about the im­pact of im­mi­gra­tion on the avail­abil­ity of hous­ing, jobs and the pres­sure on in­fra­struc­ture…and not of­fend­ing the lib­eral sen­si­tiv­i­ties of their tra­di­tional voter base.

Na­tional, which un­til re­cently has re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to kow­tow to pop­ulism on the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion, has also be­gun to shift its po­si­tion.

Un­der John Key the Gov­ern­ment staunchly de­fended the high level of im­mi­gra­tion and the eco­nomic and so­ci­etal ben­e­fits that came along with it. The Can­ter­bury re­build, the dif­fi­culty in at­tract­ing sea­sonal work­ers and labour short­ages in some re­gions were all rea­sons to main­tain pre­vail­ing pol­icy set­tings.

An­drew Lit­tle has tough­ened Labour’s po­si­tion on im­mi­gra­tion, stat­ing that the party would cut im­mi­gra­tion num­bers by tens of thou­sands

By Ken Shirley Chief Ex­ec­u­tive

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