Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Exposing Nathan Guy's racism

Back in March, Immigration Minister Nathan Guy went on TV to explain the government's crackdown on immigration. His reasoning?

During the interview the Minister confirmed "…. those [immigrants] that have been coming in previously have been very reliant on benefits. Even though they have had to have a job offer, in a lot of cases we have found that after a study we have done on the first 18 months that a third of them have ended up requiring a benefit."

The Minister went on to say that "Hard working taxpayers in New Zealand need to know that their money is being well invested, not spent on people sitting around on benefits".

It was a nasty little dogwhistle, which both smeared immigrants as shiftless layabouts, while also telling those thinking of coming here that they had poor employment prospects and might as well not bother. But, as exposed by Move2NZ using the OIA, it was based on some very shonky figures:
Information used by Mr Guy was taken from the Department of Labour's Long Term Immigration Survey (LISNZ) which followed 5,144 migrants who took up residency in New Zealand between November 2004 and October 2005. Data was collected at 6 months, 18 months and 36 months after arrival.

However the LISNZ confirms in its summarised May 2009 report entitled ‘New Faces, New Futures, New Zealand’ that: "less than 2% [of migrants surveyed] had received a core benefit".

Responding to a request lodged by Bell under the OIA about his comments on "migrants claiming benefits, Mr Guy responded: "only 66% of migrants who obtained residence through the Sibling and Adult Child Category reported having a job when surveyed 18 months after taking up permanent residence in New Zealand."

(Emphasis added)

There are two problems here. The first is that the Minister confuses "not being in paid work" with "being on a benefit". I guess students, retirees, and parents just don't exist in his world. Secondly, the Sibling and Adult Child Category makes up just 2.5% of residence applications. So the Minister is using statistics relating to a tiny fraction of immigrants - which show that yes, they too go to university, care for children, and get old - to demonise everyone who comes here as shiftless bludgers, in blatant contradiction of the facts. But clearly, the Minister is pretty comfortable with that.