Rural round-up

August 14, 2017

“Parallel Parker” Needs to Do A Better Job of Lining Up Labour’s Water Policy:

Federated Farmers wants Labour to honour the commitment it made to only look at charging overseas-owned water bottlers and to permanently park its discriminatory tax on water that will divide communities and undermine regional economies.

On 21 June this year, then Labour leader Andrew Little told the Federated Farmers national conference, in front of the media, that they were not going to tax water across the board – just look at water bottling. When news reports on this started to come out, Labour changed its tune.

At the beginning of this week Mr Parker was telling us it would apply to “large commercial users”, but now, and the end of the week, we hear it won’t apply to the very large companies putting water in bottled products right now in central Auckland. . . 

Labour could have knocked the water debate out of the park; But the economics of its royalties policy just don’t work; Let’s hope they get some nationalistic headlines out of it before questions are asked – Alex Tarrant:

Labour this election had the opportunity to knock the water pricing debate out of the park. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement Wednesday was instead a nod to politics over policy.

On the face it, the headline announcement that all commercial water users would be charged based on usage was a welcome addition to the water allocation and pricing debate in New Zealand this year.

But going beneath the surface throws up more questions than answers. These mainly stem from the policy’s central theme of different royalty rates applying to different water users, and depending on the quality of water used.

I made my views clear on this issue back in March. Let’s have a proper water pricing debate that encompasses all water use. We also need clarification on who owns water before we go about charging for it. . . 

Govt sets out path to better freshwater:

The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry. . . 

Farmers welcome support to improve environment:

The Government’s announcement of $44 million to support freshwater improvement projects is welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says that over the past two years, in particular, the organisation has responded to farmer demand for support in the environment space. “Through this work, we’ve identified that – while farmers want to take action – knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be a barrier.

“This government funding is timely and will help us better support farmers to deliver on their water quality ambitions.” . . 

California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farm worker shortage – Chris Morris:

Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.

Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here. . .

Collaboration essential for sustainable dairy farming:

If a future in sustainable farming is to be achieved in the coming years, companies in both the private and public sector need to be working both faster and more collaboratively, says dairy farm investment company Fortuna Group.

Southland-based Fortuna Group, along with Dairy Green, are the innovators at the forefront of New Zealand’s methane recovery system.

While there are other methane recovery plants in New Zealand, the partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau is the only one that is consistently and reliably generating electricity from methane.  . . 

Lower fruit prices bittersweet due to high vegetable prices:

Fruit prices fell 5.2 percent in July 2017, contributing to a 0.2 percent fall in food prices, Stats NZ said today.

Cheaper avocados and strawberries led the fall in fruit prices in July. Avocado prices fell 29 percent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 percent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July 2017, compared with $7.71 in June.

“Strawberries are unseasonably cheap for this time of year,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are currently dropping in price due to more imports from Australia.” . . 

NZ wool sale volumes rise at double auction across North, South islands  – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A higher volume of wool was sold at auction in New Zealand this week after organisers skipped a week and held a double auction across both islands.

Some 80 percent of the 15,054 wool bales offered at auctions in Napier in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island were sold yesterday, AgriHQ said. That’s ahead of the 72 percent clearance rate for the 2016/17 season which ended June 30, and the average 77 percent rate for the first six weeks of the current season. . . .

Sanity prevails over proposed animal manure imports says Feds:

Sanity based on sound science has prevailed says Federated Farmers after the Government confirmed it would no longer be permitting imports of products containing animal manure.

The decision follows a Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) investigation which discovered imported compost from the Netherlands, intended for mushroom growing, contained animal manure.

“This is the right decision and we are glad the Government has taken this step. Federated Farmers made a strong submission earlier in the year against these imports,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Synlait Invests in Category Management to Target Growth:

Synlait Milk is investing in category management capability to support increased business development in existing and new categories.

“Building discipline in category management is a crucial step in our pursuit of profitable, and sustainable, growth opportunities,” says John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re here to make the most from milk. Category management will allow us to continue planning our growth into the most profitable categories, products and customers, and to monitor our progress against those plans.” . . 

Fonterra hailed as top NZ co-op:

Fonterra has been judged New Zealand’s top co-operative business of the year, and praised for a “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high profile campaign proudly proclaiming its Kiwi farmer-owned, co-operative status”. 

The sector’s peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) made the award at a function in Auckland last night.

Shareholders’ Council Chair Duncan Coull, who collected the award, says our farmers should take real pride in this special recognition for their co-op.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op. I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”  . . 


When locals can’t/won’t work . . .

July 25, 2017

Industry groups and individual employers were unhappy with government proposals to tighten immigration requirements.

They let the government know that and it’s listened:

Immigration was due to be tightened on August 14 but there’s been a backlash from employers and the regions.

Sources have told Newshub the Government is set to back down and keep the gates open.

Examples of the revolt include Southland, which wants 10,000 more people.

“Good Kiwis are hard to find. Guys don’t want to let their good Kiwis go,” farmer Hayden Nicholson told Newshub.

“I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t let any good Kiwi go.”

Jono Breach also knows how hard it is to get a “good Kiwi”. He just got an application from one, so checked his Facebook page.

“His first picture was with wads of cash and bags of drugs, and I’m like, ‘Well!’,” he told Newshub.

That’s why farmers down in Southland have turned to immigrant labour, mainly Filipinos, like “Choco”, who loves the work, and even says he likes the Southland frost.

“This is the weather that I really like… because it is frost in the morning, but after 9am or 10am, it’s really warm and really good weather.”

Mr Breach says those are the types of people they need in Southland. But there’s a problem. The Government has proposed a tightening of immigration rules, due to come into force next month. Under the proposed changes, any immigrant earning less than $23.50 an hour, or $48,859 a year, will be deemed “unskilled”.

They will face a three-year cap on working here, with a one-year stand-down from New Zealand. They also can’t bring their families and children with them. . . 

Before an employer can take on an immigrant now they have to establish there are no locals who can do the job. A common complaint from employers is that out-of-work locals aren’t work-ready:

South Canterbury fisheries are calling out for skilled workers, saying many job seekers don’t have basic numeracy, literacy or communication skills. . . 

Sanford’s Timaru spokesperson Karen Duffy said they always had several vacancies at any one time, but it was getting harder and harder to fill those positions.

The fishery employed 90 workers, one of the largest job providers in the city.

“We are experiencing great difficulty with employing people into our business … and finding the right candidate has become extremely difficult,” she said.

Ms Duffy said local talent was difficult to come by, and she said many job seekers lacked basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills.

“Ability to problem solve, basic communication skills … those skills around communication and working as a team … it’s becoming harder to find suitable candidates”, she said. . . 

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith said the area was in the grip of a skilled labour shortage, but it was a victim of its own success.

She said rapid growth in some businesses was quickly overtaking the supply of potential workers. . . 

Ms Smith said bringing in overseas workers could help fix the problem. . . 

“We would like to see regional variations in place … we are quite concerned a blunt policy is being applied that might work for Auckland, but is probably not very applicable for down here”, she said. . . 

When locals can’t or won’t work, businesses have to employ immigrants.

The proposed changes would have had a serious impact on a range of businesses, including dairying:

DairyNZ is backing calls for the Government to rethink its new immigration policy, saying dairy farmers rely on skilled people from overseas who are wrongly classified as lower-skilled, locking them and their employers into a cycle of uncertainty.

“Many of the best performing teams on dairy farms include migrant staff,” says DairyNZ’s chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. “Some of these people are being classified as lower skilled workers when, in reality, their experience and skillset should be considered mid-skilled.”

Dr Mackle says the dairy sector and the wider New Zealand economy will not benefit from the policy changes to the essential skills visa conditions which will result in farmers not being able to retain their best migrant staff.

“The requirement of the new policy is that herd managers and farm assistants here on work visas must have their visas reviewed every year, and that they must leave New Zealand at the end of three years. This means our farmers will lose some of their best staff.”

With the objective of ensuring there were no unintended outcomes with the new policy, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, recruitment advisors, and others including farmers, made submissions to Government.

“As stated in our submission, on behalf of dairy farmers, we want to see migrant dairy staff who are currently classified as lower-skilled to be recognised as mid-skilled when they are paid within the mid-skilled remuneration band.

“With this policy there is no provision for farm roles between the low-skilled classification and the high-skilled bracket. It is crucial that this be addressed so that our farmers can continue to tap into this pool of workers when there are no New Zealanders available,” Dr Mackle says.

“Without being able to retain skilled migrant staff, dairy farms in several regions, especially Southland and Canterbury, will be severely impacted in terms of profitability. There’s the real likelihood that with fewer skilled, and consequently more unskilled staff on the ground farmers would also not be able to keep up their high standards of care for the environment they live and work in, or for such aspects as animal welfare and health and safety.”

Dr Mackle says migrant staff and their families are good citizens, making vibrant and viable contribution to the rural communities they live and work in.

“They bring their cultures and values with them. Many partners of the primary visa holders are working in the likes of aged care, supermarkets, and cafes, where they’re also valued for their work ethics and reliability. Their children attend local schools and, far from putting pressure on class sizes, many rural schools may not be viable if not for these kids.”

Dr Mackle adds that what is being faced in many rural communities – and impacting employers in all sectors – is not so much an immigration issue, but one of migration.

“In many rural areas in the South Island, especially Southland and Canterbury, people have moved away to cities. With the decrease in rural populations, the pool of available workers has shrunk too – impacting all business, not just dairy. Quite simply, there’s a shortage of Kiwis in these rural areas – migrant staff are the answer for many.”

A stable, skilled, and productive workforce is essential to the success of any business, he says.

“Farmers are the foundation of the dairy sector which earns this country upwards of $12 billion in exports, and contributes to the lifestyle, infrastructure, and technology all Kiwis enjoy, rural and urban. Farmers must be able to employ – and retain – the staff they need to run their businesses.

“Dairy deserves the best. Like most Kiwi employers, dairy farmers might not hire people from overseas as their first choice – due to language and visa bureaucracy – but often they have no other choice.”

DairyNZ says the industry provides 35,000 on-farm jobs, including contractors and staff – 3,774 of these jobs are currently filled by people from overseas.

Other sectors are also relieved that government has listened.

We are pleased to hear that the Government is planning to review incoming immigration changes with a specific focus on how they will affect the regions. Effectively addressing skills shortages in manufacturing and other sectors needs to remain a core part of our immigration system – notwithstanding changes that may be required to address other issues associated with current high levels of net migration, say the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA).

NZMEA Chief Executive, Dieter Adam said, “In particularly, the 12-month stand-down after three years did not make any sense to businesses – having to send quality workers back home not long after they completed the inevitable on-the-job training required to become fully productive and integral to their business operation. The skills they may take with them often simply cannot currently be filled by New Zealanders.”

“Unlike in other sectors, labour shortages in manufacturing are almost completely in the skilled workers category, especially for those with trade skills and experience.

“The Government’s approach to use pay levels as a surrogate for skill level was seen as a sensible approach by some of our members, where it was seen as potentially a smoother pathway to fill high income skill shortages, but others argued it is crude and has a number of issues. It ignores the fact, for example, of regional variation in pay for jobs at the same skill level, and it may unintentionally lead to wage inflation by artificially setting a base line across the country for what machine operators, for example, should be paid.

“The NZMEA is not simply advocating for a continuation of current immigration policies and practises, which have led to immigration outcomes that may well be unsustainable in some areas. The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with changes that address these issues without cutting off the much needed supply of migrants to fill skill shortages, especially in the regions outside of Auckland.” Said Dieter.

The regions have a serious shortage of both skilled and unskilled workers. Unemployment is around the level where those without work are unemployable nationally and in a lot of small towns unemployment is well below the national rate.

Restaurateurs in Oamaru and Wanaka have told me how difficult it is to get local staff who are prepared to work the required hours. They want to start later and/or finish earlier than the business requires or they simply don’t have the attitude and work ethic that’s needed.

Advertising is expensive. It costs several hundred dollars each time a new staff member is required and immigrations rules require that the business goes through that process of trying to employ locals each time there’s a vacancy, even if they’ve only just done that and established there isn’t anyone suitable.

In small towns and provincial areas, employers know the locals and would usually know anyone who was willing and able to work when there’s a vacancy without needing to advertise.

The requirement to prove there are no locals available to work simply becomes an expensive exercise in futility that puts strain on businesses and their staff.

Auckland has problems with too many people for the available housing and infrastructure but that should not be used as an excuse to make business so hard outside the city.

It is possible to ensure immigrant workers stay in the regions when their visas are tied to specific employers.

Opposition MPs are making their triennial discovery of life outside big cities as they try to court votes. That they have softened their anti-immigration stance shows that they have realised the difficulties businesses are facing.

It’s difficult for government’s to win on something like this – if they don’t listen they’re criticised, if they do they’re accused of doing a u-turn.

But most employers aren’t interested in the politics, they’re just grateful that the government has heard their concerns and will be acting on them.


Whose job is it to make jobless job-ready?

July 18, 2017

The Opposition’s anti-immigration policies are based on the view that New Zealanders should come first for jobs.

They do under current policy, if they are ready and willing to work.

But what happens when they’re not?

Whose job is it to make the jobless job-ready?

When unemployment is as low as it is (4.9% in the March quarter), too many of those without jobs don’t have what it takes to take on even low skilled or unskilled jobs.

There are plenty of jobs which don’t require specialised skills but none don’t need people with at least basic numeracy and literacy, who turn up on time ready, willing and able to work, and continue to work willingly and ably for the required number of hours.

Not all businesses have the human and financial resources to deal with people who aren’t work-ready.

But the Warehouse is giving some young unemployed people a chance:

The Warehouse’s Red Shirts programme offers unskilled 16 to 24-year-olds the training they need to get a job.

It’s a three-week unpaid programme supported by the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry, which chooses who will go on the programme, pays for participants’ shoes and trousers, bought at cost price from The Warehouse.

“At the end of the programme their eyes are sparkling, their posture is up, they are able to hold a conversation with you,” The Warehouse’s Shari French told Newshub.

“It’s incredible, the self-esteem and the growth we see is amazing.” . . .

The programme teaches workplace safety, customer service and confidence.

“It’s absolutely essential we give them that before they turn 20, before they go onto a benefit,” Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Newshub.

So far 250 young people have been through the course, with 70 percent of them getting jobs within three months and 50 of them working at The Warehouse.

The programme will now be rolled out to more Warehouse stores around the country and will take in a further 1000 young people.

Few if any small to medium businesses could do this without putting too much pressure on other staff but the Warehouse is showing that some bigger business could.

It’s also a reminder that sorting out social problems isn’t only up to the government and its agencies.

But it’s not an argument against immigration when too many employers can’t find locals ready, willing and able to work.


Labour now the Sweatshop Boys

June 23, 2017

Duncan Garner has the line of the day on the AM Show – he’s calling Labour the Sweatshop Boys.

He’s referring to the party’s botched intern scheme :

There are calls for Immigration NZ to investigate a Labour-linked election campaign which used unpaid labour in the guise of an education programme.

More than 80 overseas students have been doing unpaid “drudge work”, and living in a cramped Auckland marae without a working shower, reports political blog Politik. . .

Rivals ACT called the campaign a “sweat shop filled with immigrant labour”.

“I cannot believe the Labour Party’s do as we say, not as we do attitude. This is a new low for hypocrisy, even for them,” ACT leader David Seymour said.

“Who would believe in Labour’s promised crackdown on cheap student labour when Labour are one of the worst offenders in the country?” . . .

That is hypocrisy writ large.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said Labour had to explain how it could justify “exploiting” international students for its election campaign while it was also speaking out against international education providers.

“This is truly appalling behaviour both for its lack of human decency and industrial strength hypocrisy,” Joyce said.

“If the allegations are correct, Labour has brought international students to New Zealand on false pretences, failed to look after them, and failed to meet their obligations to the students in the most basic way, while at the same time campaigning against exploitation of migrants.” . . .

Employers are very, very worried about Labour’s threatened changes to immigration.

Skills shortage in many sectors including IT, trades, farming, contracting and hospitality mean employers are already struggling to get anyone to fill positions. They’re wasting time, money and energy working their way through the process of employing immigrants.

Labour’s threatened changes would make that much, much worse.

These employers are working hard making a significant and positive economic and social contribution to New Zealand.

Labour wants to hobble them and yet has the hypocrisy to bring in people from overseas, not to work in productive businesses,  but to campaign for the party, and do it without pay.

Compounding that, the party that is supposed to stand up for workers put them up in sub-standard accommodation.

Matt McCarten did a mea culpe yesterday but the party can’t blame the mess only on him.

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it. . .

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.” . . .

Hypocrisy is bad enough, but there are also questions over which visas the students are on.

. . . We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.

It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.

So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.

Even if the students are on working holiday visas, there are other questions:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse did not know whether Immigration NZ or MBIE’s labour inspectorate was investigating the issue, but believed Labour had serious questions to answer about possible breaches.

Woodhouse said the students would be allowed to undertake the work if they were on working holiday visas, as Labour believed, but there were still questions about whether there had been breaches of employment law.

“What I am aware of is similar schemes to this have been investigated very seriously by the labour inspectorate because it is work masquerading as voluntary work, and I think that is also a question that should be asked of the Labour Party.”

Providing services for food and board counted as work under employment law, he said.

“Regardless of what visa they’re on, there are certainly questions about the nature of the work they’re doing and whether that meets the definition of employment.” . .

The Sweatshop boys and girls in Labour will be sweating over this.

Even if there is no immigration fraud, what they are doing is in direct contradiction of their immigration policy and their supposed role in protecting workers from exploitation.

 

 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2017

Differing water quality rules still an issue – Sally Rae:

Simon Williamson has been re-elected president of North Otago Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the branch’s annual meeting in Oamaru, Mr Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said it had been a busy year ”on many fronts”.

It was apparent the two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council – were still taking a very different approach to water quality. . .

Cows make a comeback – Neal Wallace and Mel Croad:

Buyers are chasing breeding cows and heifers in what could be the first sign of a revival in breeding cow numbers.

In-calf heifer and breeding cow fairs across the country in recent weeks have drawn large galleries of buyers paying prices akin to those paid in Australia where the herd was being rebuilt.

Prices for in-calf Angus heifers at Temuka exceeded $2400 a head in early May when a lack of numbers saw two fairs rolled into one. But prices were helped by farmers rebuilding breeding herds. . .

Decision ‘simple arithmetic – Maureen Bisop and John Keast:

They may have suspected it was coming, but the announcement of the proposed closure of Silver Fern Farm’s Fairton plant in Ashburton was still devastating for many of the 370 workers set to lose their jobs.

The proposal to close the 125-year-old plant was put to staff at a meeting in Ashburton last Wednesday. A two-week consultation period was to follow, although if there was significant feedback that this was too short or too long, that would be considered. It was hoped to have a final decision on May 31.

Most workers already knew the future of the plant was uncertain. The seasons were shorter and there was an ever dwindling supply of lambs. . .

NZ Binxi builds 20% stake in Blue Sky Meats, may revisit takeover after getting OIO sign-off – Rebecca Howard:

China’s Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co won’t rule out revisiting its takeover of Invercargill meat processor Blue Sky Meats now that the deal has Overseas Investment Office approval, having abandoned the bid in March when the OIO process missed a deadline.

“We don’t have any fixed position on what our next steps will be,” Richard Thorp, chief operating officer of Binxi Cattle’s local unit NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, told BusinessDesk after the OIO gave the deal a greenlight this week. . .

Principals fear visa change – John Lewis:

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s essential skills visa could result in some small rural Otago schools closing, principals say.
Many parents working in the region’s dairy industry are migrants, and their children make up a significant percentage of rural school rolls.

The proposed changes will limit essential skills visas to one year, and after a maximum of three years, immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa. . .

Honoured for advocacy role – Nicole Sharp:

Doug Fraser is a name well-known in the farming circle.
Dedicated to the sector and the people who work in it, for a long time Mr Fraser has been a strong voice in Federated Farmers.

His behind-the-scenes work and advocating for farmers was recognised recently at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM, when Mr Fraser was awarded life membership.

Former Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson presented Mr Fraser with the award, speaking of his time working with Mr Fraser. . .

Health hub has 25 exhibitors – Annette Scott:

Getting like-minded health organisations together to change how rural people think about health has been the driver for the inaugural Fieldays Health Hub.

Health issues affecting rural communities would be the focus as a whole host of relevant health professionals and organisations delivered interactive health care of the future messages, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager said. . .

 


Different in real world

September 6, 2016

Why do we bring in immigrants when there are so many people on benefits?

Prime Minister John Key gave the answer:

“We bring in people to pick fruit under the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, and they come from the islands, and they do a fabulous job. And the government has been saying ‘well, OK, there are some unemployed people who live in the Hawke’s Bay, and so why can’t we get them to pick fruit’, and we have been trialling a domestic RSE scheme.

“But go and ask the employers, and they will say some of these people won’t pass a drug test, some of these people won’t turn up for work, some of these people will claim they have health issues later on. So it’s not to say there aren’t great people who transition from Work and Income to work, they do, but it’s equally true that they’re also living in the wrong place, or they just can’t muster what is required to actually work.”

He said geographic location was a major factor in matching unemployed people up with available jobs, and filling a position like a hairdresser in Queenstown could require a migrant to fill the role. . . 

He was criticised for this but employers back him up:

The New Zealand Seasonal Workers Scheme, is designed to give unemployed locals a job and aims to help them move to  areas with staff shortages.

But fruit growers said they were frustrated by the number of ‘no shows’ involved in the trial.

Central Otago wine grower James Dicey said he had tried several times to get workers in the trial to pick grapes for him.

“I’ve tried the scheme and worked hand in glove with Work and Income in the past and the level of suitable candidates who are prepared to turn up on a reliable basis and do an honest day’s work is pretty skinny on the ground. The last attempt I made on this, we tried to import some people from Dunedin. We had 1400 people be interviewed and we struggled to fill an eight-seater bus,” he said.

Mr Dicey said even before the scheme he tried to get a van full of beneficiaries to do seasonal work for him, but to no avail.

“Usually in a van of 10, if you can fill a van, two people won’t turn up to work the first day, another two people will last a couple of hours, the next two people won’t turn up the following day, then two of those people will see the harvest out, then when we offer them winter pruning work maybe one or two will do that.”

Mr Dicey said trying to get the workers left to do what was necessary to become full time – such as get their restricted licence – was difficult.

“I’ve offered all sorts of incentives for these two kids that I’ve got working for me at the moment to try to get them from their learners to their restricted licence, they’re not motivated. I’ve offered them money, I’ve put things on the table and I don’t understand what more I can do with these guys to get them across the line. And it’s a constant source of frustration. It’s just one illustration of something that makes it very difficult for me to be able to offer full time employment.” . . .

It’s not just in horticulture, dairying depends on foreign workers, in particular backpackers who, like Kiwis when they travel, are willing to work while they explore the country.

In the political world of the Opposition who want fewer foreigners every unemployed person has the attitude and ability to work.

But in the real world it’s different.

Unemployment is now around 5% nationally and lower in some of the places where there’ are staff shortages.

That’s getting down to the unemployable – people who can’t or won’t work.

When you’ve got fruit and vegetables to pick or cows to milk, you need people you can rely on to do what’s required when it’s required.

The alternative to foreign workers, be they visitors or immigrants, when locals won’t work is more mechanisation.

A friend who with a horticultural business installed a new sorting machine which took the place of five workers.

It was expensive but he said the difficulty of finding staff and increased complexities and costs of employment meant it was worth it.

This is the choice employers face when they can’t find locals who can and will work – foreigners or machines.


Kiwi factor in net migration

July 15, 2016

Higher net immigration is prompting calls for a curbs on migrants.

But, Statistics New Zealand shows the kiwi factor in net migration:

A record net gain of 71,900 non-New Zealand citizen migrants in the May 2016 year, was partly offset by a smaller-than-usual net loss of 3,500 New Zealand citizens (Kiwis), and produced a record-breaking net gain of 68,400 people. The last time the difference between Kiwi migrants arriving and departing was this narrow was 25 years ago.

More Kiwis are coming back after living overseas and fewer are leaving than in recent years. These historically small net losses of New Zealand citizens combined with record net gains in non-New Zealand citizens have created our current record in migration.

The graph below shows New Zealand’s annual net permanent and long-term migration for 1986–2016.

 

Each year, typically more Kiwis depart overseas than return after a year or more away, and more non-New Zealand citizens arrive here to stay for a year or more, than leave.

The flow of New Zealand citizens can be large, and at times significantly offset the net gain in non-New Zealand citizen migrants. For example, in the May 2012 year 22,400 Kiwis arrived back in New Zealand and 61,800 headed overseas for a year or more, creating a net loss of 39,400 Kiwis. In the same period, there was a net gain of 35,800 non-New Zealand citizens which was outweighed by the loss of Kiwis, creating a total net loss of 3,700 migrants.

Since 1986, an average of 21,600 more Kiwis have left than arrived back, compared with an average of 32,100 more non-New Zealand citizens arriving than departing per year. These figures contribute to an average net gain of 10,500 migrants a year.

There are many ways of analysing net migration including by country of residence. The biggest net gains by country of citizenship in the May 2016 year, contributing to the 68,400 total net gain, were from:

  • India (13,100)
  • China (9,600)
  • the Philippines (6,200)
  • the United Kingdom (5,600).

Net migration is the difference between arrivals and departures of migrants. The biggest flows in either direction in the May 2016 year were:

  • New Zealand citizen departures (34,200)
  • New Zealand citizen arrivals (30,700)
  • Indian citizen arrivals (14,400)
  • Chinese citizen arrivals (11,500)
  • United Kingdom citizen arrivals (10,300).

While Kiwis are not contributing net gains to the current record gain in migration, they are a big determinant of total net migration as they dominate both migrant arrivals and departures.

It’s only a few years ago that the number of New Zealanders leaving and not returning was cause for concern.

Now that fewer are leaving and more are returning ought to be cause for celebration.

That people from other countries are also seeing New Zealand as a desirable place to live is a positive reflection on the country, economy and quality of life.


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