This reading carries on from here.
The sixth chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Immigration’. It starts with an attack on Winston Peters’s “twenty year racist dogwhistling campaign”, in which Seymour takes the opportunity to position himself as a crusader against racism and bigotry. This is a wise strategic move on Seymour’s part, considering that his party gets more votes from the foreign-born than any other. The Greens are also accused of racism for wanting to lower immigration levels.
Astonishingly, Seymour makes a passionate appeal to New Zealand’s moral obligation to help displaced refugees – but at no point in this book so far has he made any appeal to New Zealand’s moral obligation to help its own people, especially its poorest and most disadvantaged. Here Seymour comes across as the out-of-touch, highly privileged urban dweller who is horrified by a tennis ball to the head.
Ironically, Seymour pillories those who cry “racist” at everyone who claims that we need some immigration restrictions, despite doing the same thing himself on the previous page. This he does in an attempt to position himself as the supporter of a “smart” immigration policy, pointing out that no-one wants no immigration and no-one wants open borders.
He lists at length what he perceives to be the good things about New Zealand, as a way of explaining why so many people want to come here. He claims that New Zealand has a “generous” welfare system, no doubt by way of comparison to Samoa or India. Noting that New Zealand would be swamped tomorrow if we decided to throw open our borders, he seems to think it’s good enough for New Zealand to be doing better than the global average. No word about our domestic violence, child abuse or teen suicide rates.
He also makes some fair criticisms of the current immigration system, such as the absurdity of getting an investment visa from buying and holding for a few years a couple of million dollars’ worth of Government bonds. He laments the shortage of workers at tech companies and hospitals, but manages to resist the temptation of arguing that we need to attract them through lower tax rates.
New Zealand First comes in for special criticism here, with Seymour going as far as to claim that their “poisonousness” is “intended to hurt those who want to bring their skills and settle in New Zealand”. Seymour might not be aware that Maoris vote New Zealand First much more often than white people, so one wonders what he makes of this. Are Maoris racist for not wanting mass immigration? No-one knows.
There are many contradictions in this essay, many of them glaring. Possibly the most grievous encountered so far is when he complains that previous Governments have failed to make sure that the immigrants coming there are those who will integrate and contribute to economic growth, but in the very next sentence complains that those Governments only “reluctantly and begrudgingly” increase the refugee quota when concern about overseas suffering becomes “overwhelming”.
Anyone with the most passing familiarity with the situation in Europe knows that refugees are precisely the sort of person who are least likely to integrate, and who will offer negative economic growth. This contradiction is so glaringly incredible that it’s unclear if Seymour is being dishonest here or if this essay is simply poorly written.
Hilariously, Seymour is willing to grit his teeth and write that New Zealand doesn’t need “upper middle class foreign citizens flashing their bank accounts at us on their way through customs to get to a beach house” – when those people make up most of ACT’s voters. Also, we don’t need more Pacific Islanders “taking the piss” by using family migration to get their extended family “to come and live and take advantage of our generous welfare system”. Seymour writes this, apparently completely unaware that, earlier in the chapter, he pilloried New Zealand First and called them racist for saying much the same thing.
Seymour concludes this chapter with some virtue signalling about how our refugee quota is an “embarrassment”. He doesn’t appear to understand that keeping the number of Muslims and Africans low is the only way that the New Zealand population will remain favourable to immigration in general – this has been the lesson of the last twenty years in Europe. This contradiction is typical of what has so far been the most poorly written and argued essay in this book so far.
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