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Immigration Or Exports, That Is The Question

12 June 2002

“New Zealand exports $3,600 (US) per person. That is on the back of favourable commodity prices and exchange rates. Compare that with other countries with similar populations: Ireland $19,300 or Singapore $34,731 (both US dollars).

“There is a stark message in those figures, New Zealand First leader and Member for Tauranga, Winston Peters said.

“Our export performance is not good enough to sustain quality health and education services or to provide security. To grow the economic cake we need a plan to treble exports, and to do that we need low exchange and low interest rates. The Reserve Bank’s single-minded pursuit of low inflation has fuelled recent rises in both and spell disaster for our exporters and especially for the rural sector. Quite apart from the obvious need for the Governor to take a broader approach we need to look at what the upward pressures are on these key conditions.

“The violence of this upward trend has brought uncertainty for exporters and scared the Government into an early election before the news gets worse. One of the major factors in these disastrous trends is unplanned and uncontrolled immigration, Mr. Peters said.

“In noting that gross immigration was 8,300 in excess of the 45,000 target, Infometrics’ economist Gareth Kiernan identified this as a major reason for forcing up prices: ‘…the influx of migrants is quickly soaking up spare capacity in the economy – housing, schools, health services, roads, etc. As supply of these goods and services comes under pressure, prices will be forced up….’.

“All New Zealanders, producers and consumers, should be alarmed by the insidious change that is taking place in our society without any public debate. Clearly the question is higher exports or higher immigration. The answer is clear,” Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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