Q + A: Panel Discussion in response to Paul Spoonley
Q + A: PANEL DISCUSSION 2
Hosted by SHANE TAURIMA
In response to PAUL SPOONLEY INTERVIEW
SHANE Welcome back to our panel, Raymond Miller, Mike Williams and Fran O’Sullivan. Mike Williams, immigration hasn’t really been a political football since Winston Peters in the mid-‘90s. Do we take that as a sign that we’re doing pretty well?
MIKE Yes, I think we do. I mean, I live in Auckland, and I think probably— I’m not certain, but we are the only Pakeha family in the street. We’re surrounded by Chinese, Koreans, and I have to say it’s absolutely the quietest neighbourhood I’ve ever lived in, so there are huge benefits. But I think this actually links up with a topic you’re going to go on to – transport. There’s huge growth happening in Auckland. We’re not building houses fast enough. There’s severe overcrowding. Two elections ago, I went door-knocking in Manurewa, and every second garage was actually occupied, so there’s got to be some policies on that.
SHANE Are we doing enough with all these issues in Auckland here, Raymond?
RAYMOND I don’t think we are, actually. I talked about the lack of political voice for young New Zealanders, even more so for immigrants. And the problem is that Auckland is going to have not only 40% of the total population of New Zealand, but it’s a population which will have a lot of young people and a lot of new migrants. And take housing, for instance, now, some viewers will remember when large swathes of Auckland were developed way back in the ‘50s and ‘60s – Mount Roskill, Hillsborough, Pakuranga, the North Shore and so on. I mean, we have an undersupply of housing right now. This is going to become a critical issue for all these new immigrants and these young people who want to have their first starter home. Employment is another one. So there are lots of big issues that the political elite should be addressing not in 10 years’ time, but begin addressing now.
MIKE There’s a good point around that. Auckland is politically decisive. It was Auckland that gave Helen Clark her third term in government. The provinces are much more stable than Auckland, and Gerry Brownlee continually knocking back even talking about the city rail loop is likely—
SHANE And we’ll go back to Auckland after, I think, we’ve heard from the Mayor. But, Fran, going back to, you know, I think they said 2020, one in five being over the age of 65. Doesn’t that take us back to what we were talking about—
FRAN Well, it comes down—
SHANE before with super?
FRAN Yeah, it comes down to basic arithmetic, and what you have is great wodge of people on the top and not enough taxpayers underneath to pay for it. And I don’t buy for any moment— I mean, the Prime Minister I thought relatively glibly said that essentially the cost of super now would almost double as a portion of GDP over a particular period. Well, that’s actually quite big and when you look at it in big, round numbers. But the other thing about this issue which we’re talking about here about population growth and diversity, I’m in the middle of doing The Herald’s annual Mood of the Boardroom CEO survey, and already there is this huge concern about young people – young skilled people that we have paid to educate in New Zealand and they have been a cost to the taxpayer getting them through university, all of that, and they go somewhere else. And they’re lacking— and they do not see the skilled immigrants coming in necessarily, you know, replacing those people. It’s a much harder mix to work in, and actually managing a diverse multicultural workplace is quite difficult and people are not necessarily up to that yet. And so I think that brings back to the generational issue. We need to look at how we can retain our young here. I think it’s quite scandalous that, okay, we’re growing and the proportion’s going to change, but we’re still losing all these young people offshore.
SHANE It doesn’t make sense, though. As you say, all our people are moving offshore and we’re getting—
FRAN And we move from what was the bicultural paradigm where I think Maoridom in particular felt that they were making headway with Pakeha in that kind of universe, and then suddenly we’re a multicultural country.
SHANE And interestingly, they don’t like immigration.
FRAN It’s very—
MIKE that’s perfectly understandable.
FRAN But we’ve got to get the growth from somewhere, and it’s a positive, actually, that in a world where there is going to be a shortage of young people and there are a lot of ageing populations, at least if we’re getting people in, that’s a plus for us.
RAYMOND And ask the Irish about problems with migration. And the other problem we’ve got, of course, is the Christchurch problem, and it is the rebuilding of an entire city almost. And that will take a lot of employment, it will take a lot of our resources, it will take a lot of planning over the next few years. Meanwhile, this monstrosity called Auckland keeps getting bigger and bigger.
SHANE And we’re moving on to Auckland.