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