Examining the Russian media war

A very interesting article by Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times that claims Russian influence in what has become known as fake news, used to promote discord and protest and to interfere in elections in countries around the world.

Examples are given of interference in Germany over immigration, in the UK over Brexit, and in the US election.

RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War

How the Kremlin built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century — and why it may be impossible to stop.

…Steltner found the phone calls he received that morning confounding. They came from police officers from towns far outside Berlin, who reported that protests were erupting, seemingly out of nowhere, on their streets. “They are demonstrating — ‘Save our children,’ ‘No attacks from immigrants on our children’ and some things like that,” Steltner told me when I met him in Berlin recently.

The police were calling Steltner because this was ostensibly his office’s fault. The protesters were angry over the Berlin prosecutor’s supposed refusal to indict three Arab migrants who, they said, raped a 13-year-old girl from Berlin’s tight-knit Russian-German community.

Steltner, who would certainly have been informed if such a case had come up for prosecution, had heard nothing of it. He called the Berlin Police Department, which informed him that a 13-year-old Russian-German girl had indeed gone missing a week before. When she resurfaced a day later, she told her parents that three “Southern-looking men” — by which she meant Arab migrants — had yanked her off the street and taken her to a rundown apartment, where they beat and raped her.

But when the police interviewed the girl, whose name was Lisa, she changed her story. She had left home, it turned out, because she had gotten in trouble at school. Afraid of how her parents would react, she went to stay with a 19-year-old male friend. The kidnapping and gang rape, she admitted, never happened.

The allegations were false, but Russian news agencies kept publishing them, promoting protests and discord over immigration in Germany.

Officials in Germany and at NATO headquarters in Brussels view the Lisa case, as it is now known, as an early strike in a new information war Russia is waging against the West. In the months that followed, politicians perceived by the Russian government as hostile to its interests would find themselves caught up in media storms that, in their broad contours, resembled the one that gathered around Merkel.

They often involved conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods — sometimes with a tenuous connection to fact, as in the Lisa case, sometimes with no connection at all — amplified until they broke through into domestic politics. In other cases, they simply helped promote nationalist, far-left or far-right views that put pressure on the political center.

What the efforts had in common was their agents: a loose network of Russian-government-run or -financed media outlets and apparently coordinated social-media accounts.

And this is effective. This is evident in New Zealand where ordinary people, especially those with conspiracy tendencies or with strong views about things like immigration or politics, pick up on and amplify the messages – which is of course one of the aims.

After RT and Sputnik gave platforms to politicians behind the British vote to leave the European Union, like Nigel Farage, a committee of the British Parliament released a report warning that foreign governments may have tried to interfere with the referendum.

Russia and China, the report argued, had an “understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals” and practiced a kind of cyberwarfare “reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion.”

I wouldn’t rule out other countries either, like North Korea, from the Middle East – and the US, who are also one of the main targets.

But all of this paled in comparison with the role that Russian information networks are suspected to have played in the American presidential election of 2016.

In early January, two weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, American intelligence officials released a declassified version of a report — prepared jointly by the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency — titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” It detailed what an Obama-era Pentagon intelligence official, Michael Vickers, described in an interview in June with NBC News as “the political equivalent of 9/11.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” the authors wrote. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency.” According to the report, “Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

The intelligence assessment detailed some cloak-and-dagger activities, like the murky web of Russian (if not directly government-affiliated or -financed) hackers who infiltrated voting systems and stole gigabytes’ worth of email and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

But most of the assessment concerned machinations that were plainly visible to anyone with a cable subscription or an internet connection: the coordinated activities of the TV and online-media properties and social-media accounts that made up, in the report’s words, “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine.”

The assessment devoted nearly half its pages to a single cable network: RT. The Kremlin started RT — shortened from the original Russia Today — a dozen years ago to improve Russia’s image abroad.

But it is not simple to isolate and combat.

Plenty of RT’s programming, to outward appearances, is not qualitatively different from conventional opinion-infused cable news.

Its fans point to its coverage of political perspectives that aren’t prominent on mainstream networks — voices from the Occupy movement, the libertarian right and third parties like the Green Party. The network has been nominated for four International Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy.

This makes RT and Sputnik harder for the West to combat than shadowy hackers.

 RT might not have amassed an audience that remotely rivals CNN’s in conventional terms, but in the new, “democratized” media landscape, it doesn’t need to.

Over the past several years, the network has come to form the hub of a new kind of state media operation: one that travels through the same diffuse online channels, chasing the same viral hits and memes, as the rest of the Twitter-and-Facebook-age media.

In the process, Russia has built the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far, one that thrives in the feverish political climates that have descended on many Western publics.

It is a long article but worth reading if you have any interest in international propaganda and information wars.

As stated it is not just the use of news organisations, it is the use of social media as well. Facebook is gradually admitting how they were used during the US election campaign.

Reuters: Facebook says some Russian ads during U.S. election promoted live events

Some of the ads bought by Russians on Facebook last year promoted events during the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook Inc said on Tuesday, indicating that alleged meddling ahead of the 2016 election went beyond social media.

Facebook said in a statement that its takedown of what the company last week called Russian-affiliated pages included shutting down “several promoted events.”

Facebook declined to provide details of the promoted events.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, said last week that an operation likely based in Russia had placed thousands of U.S. ads with polarizing views on topics such as immigration, race and gay rights on the site during a two-year period through May 2017.

The Daily Beast, the news website that first reported on the promoted events posted on Facebook, said one advertisement promoted an anti-immigrant rally in Idaho in August 2016.

The rally was hosted by a Facebook group called “Secured Borders,” which was a Russian front and is now suspended, according to the Daily Beast.

In social media they commonly target people who want to believe certain things and  spread issues that have dubious merit.

Ardern not keen on being likened to Trump

Jacinda Ardern’s rise in New Zealand keeps getting international attention.

Wall Street Journal: Immigration Politics Turns Upside Down in New Zealand Election Campaign

Center-left party’s plan to cut immigration helps narrow the gap with conservative government

A tightening election race in this U.S. ally has its roots in anxiety over immigration and the rise of a leader who wasn’t even her party’s first choice when campaigning began more than a month ago.

New Zealand voters will go to the polls on Sept. 23 to decide whether Bill English’s National party should remain in government after nearly nine years or be replaced by the opposition Labour Party headed by Jacinda Ardern, a 37-year-old former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

Ardern may not be keen on that being pointed out so prominently.

Ms. Ardern’s rapid ascent owes much to tapping into growing unease about affordability, particularly among young voters, and feeding off a global backlash over immigration.

I think this overstates how much of a part immigration is playing in Ardern’s rise and  Labour’s resurgence. Winston Peters keeps playing the anti-immigration card and he and NZ First are slipping in the polls.

Ms. Ardern wants to cut the annual net migration figure by up to 30,000 people a year to help more New Zealanders find work and own homes, as well as to take the pressure off infrastructure—especially in the commercial capital Auckland, which is often clogged with traffic.

No mention of Donald Trump but in a tweet promoting the article:

NZH followed that up: Jacinda Ardern takes offence at being compared to Donald Trump

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she takes offence at being compared to Donald Trump by The Wall Street Journal.

The publication made the comparison in a tweet promoting an article about Labour’s rise in polling under Ardern’s leadership.

Asked about the tweet today, Ardern said she proudly stood behind Labour’s policy to double the refugee quota.

Ardern is adept at diverting from the point.

She did not delve into Labour’s immigration policy which the party estimates would reduce net migration by 20-30,000 a year. That policy was announced by former leader Andrew Little but Ardern has not changed it.

“Our policy has remained the same for the last several months. I have made no change to that policy. Yes, we have infrastructure issues in Auckland and we know we need to address those – we need to build more houses.

“We wouldn’t be having this conversation if there had been proper planning upfront by the current Government.

“That’s another reason I absolutely refute the statement that was made there. And everyone who I think has been watching this campaign will know that what was said there was absolutely false. And, frankly, offensive.”

The Trump comparison was made by a journalist who was reporting from “quite a distance from the campaign”, Ardern said.

Trumps targeting of some groups of immigrants and the measures he is taking, including building a wall between the US and Mexico, is some distance from Labour’s immigration reduction policy.

Labour’s Janus faces

Gareth Morgan has been in trouble for suggesting, in a sexist tweet, that Jacinda Ardern has the face of a pig.

If I were to characterise the Labour Party of the Ardern era, then I would use a different metaphor. I think that the party is a little like the Roman god Janus, who had two faces.
Janus was a confusing, and perhaps confused, god. While one of his faces smiled, the other might scowl. While one of his tongues spoke sweetly, the other might curse.
Jacinda Ardern is a talented and charismatic leader who has brought a smile and a message of hope to the election campaign. She is deservedly surging in the polls.

But at the same time as Ardern smiles and promotes progressive ideas like reducing child poverty and ameliorating Auckland’s housing crisis, Labour continues to run a troubling crusade against both immigration and immigrants. Labour has for the last couple of years been complaining that too many immigrants are entering New Zealand, and the party’s election manifesto promises to cut migrant numbers by almost half.

I disagree with Labour’s plans to cut immigration, but I accept that New Zealanders have the right to debate the subject, and that our various political parties have the right to put forward different policies on the subject.

What I find very ugly, and very ominous, is the rhetoric that Labour has used when it has promoted its immigration policy.

Labour has blamed, without evidence, problems as different including New Zealand’s high youth suicide rate and Auckland’s gridlocked roads on recent migrants to this country. And as they campaign for re-election the party’s MPs continue to use language that stigmatises and dehumanises migrants. In a recent forum of parliamentary candidates, for example, MP Louisa Wall complained that National had ‘flooded’ the country with ‘low-quality’ migrants. By using the word ‘flooded’ Wall compared migrants to a natural disaster, and suggested that New Zealanders’ safety is threatened by the new arrivals. When she used the phrase ‘low-quality’, Wall likened tens of thousands of migrants to defective goods, or inefficient machines. Without having met the vast majority of these people, she is ready to characterise them as less than fully human, and as undeserving of New Zealand citizenship.

Opinion polling shows that a huge majority of New Zealanders dislike Donald Trump and the policies he has pursued as American president. Trump’s ally and ambassador to New Zealand was booed by crowds when he drove from Wellington’s airport to his embassy. A number of Labour politicians have criticised the xenophobia of the Trump regime. Yet Labour, like Trump, is calling for drastic cuts to immigration. And Labour, like Trump, is using irresponsible and ugly rhetoric against migrants.

If Jacinda Ardern is serious about running a positive and hopeful election campaign, why won’t she stop the verbal attacks on new New Zealanders, and reverse Labour’s Trump-like policy on migration? I wouldn’t vote for Trump, and I can’t vote for Labour as long as the party runs this Janus-faced campaign.


Post by Scott Hamilton

Better presentation of shite?

Jacinda Ardern has just been interviewed on RNZ. A quick response:

Backtrack on immigration skills clampdown

In April the Government announced tougher requirements for lower skilled immigrants, but after complaints by provincial employers they are backtracking.

Stuff in April:  What do the Government’s immigration changes mean?

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has announced a number of changes to New Zealand’s immigration system, aimed at tackling both the number and quality of immigrants coming here for work.

What has the Government actually done?

They’ve made a number of changes to the rules for people applying for a skilled migrant visa – a points-based system for people who want to work and live here indefinitely.

If an applicant would earn less than the median New Zealand income of $48,859, they won’t get any points – even if their job was previously considered as skilled.

What about people here on temporary visas?

The same income thresholds will apply. Someone eligible for a temporary “essential skills” work visa who earns less than the median income can still work here, but only for a maximum of three years before a “stand down period” and a new application.

In addition, seasonal workers will have their visas limited to the length of their work, rather than 12 months as is currently the case.

Stuff today:  Government backdown on immigration changes

A proposed immigration crackdown will be watered down after a backlash from provincial bosses, Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed.

English told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme the changes would not be scrapped but there would “probably be some adjustments.”

The Government announced in April there would be an overhaul of the skills requirements for work visas as immigration heated up as an election year issue.

But the rule changes have been criticised as overly punitive and locking out a large number of skilled or necessary workers, particularly in regions where employers say they are struggling with a labour shortage.

South Island mayors are among those who put pressure on the Government to do a U-turn.

English said the Government would not be scrapping its plans entirely as it was important to get the right balance of skills in the economy.

But there were 10,000 jobs created each month and migrant workers were needed bo “build the houses, drive the trucks, make the whole thing work”.

​English acknowledged there had been a lot of pushback and said employers told the Government there was plenty of work, and strong demand for people to do the work.

“[They’re] doing their best to recruit Kiwis where they can but there are still gaps and they need the skills and are a bit concerned some of the rules might be a bit tight.”.

The April changes seemed to be in reaction to political pressure in election year.

This backtrack is a reaction to reality.

New housing infrastructure agency

The Government seems to have made as much noise and effort in trying to address housing problems this year than in their previous eight years in power. Housing has become both a critical problem and a critical election issue.

A new announcement yesterday: Govt sets up new housing infrastructure agency

The government is setting up a new agency to speed up the building of housing, starting with a fund of $600 million.

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) will be given $300m in each of the next two years, to co-fund basic infrastructure especially, but not only, in Auckland.

The government’s named the first two projects to be considered for funding, one in Drury in Auckland’s rural south, and the other at Wainui in the city’s northern rural area.

The Drury development by Stevenson Limited could be eligible for up to $68m for roading, water and transport spending to accelerate the start of 700 homes by up to two years.

Up to $149m could be available for new roading around the Wainui area near Silverdale.

The fund is the second housing initiative in a fortnight by the government, which unveiled its $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Funds chosen projects 12 days ago.

These sorts of things and this sort of expenditure takes time to set up but one could be a little cynical about the timing.

Related to this: Immigration, tourism continuing to surge

Official figures show a net migration of a record 72,300 people in the year to June; 131,400 people arrived and 59,100 left.

For the month of June, there was a seasonally-adjusted net gain of about 6400 people – the strongest since the start of the year.

“Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since late 2012 when we had more departures than arrivals,” Statistics NZ population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said New Zealanders were choosing to stay put.

“The number of New Zealanders moving offshore remains very low, and we continue to see large numbers of New Zealand citizens returning from Australia.

“The net outflow of New Zealand citizens is at its lowest level since 1984 … this accounts for half of the pick-up in net migration since 2011.”

While the number of new immigrants is a contentious issue a lot of the reason for the increase in net immigration is the slowdown in the numbers of New Zealanders leaving and an increase in the numbers returning.

Ironically Chinese money, builders contribute to Auckland housing construction

Chinese money or Chinese builders are contributing to almost a third of all residential construction under way in Auckland.

A top economist says that the billions of dollars of Chinese investment flowing into the New Zealand industry is badly needed.

 

James Shaw: “Migrants are not to blame…”

Green co-leader James Shaw spoke in Dunedin today (and despte what he said it isn’t cold for this time of year).

He talked about immigration numbers but also in avoiding scapegoating.


Kia ora kotou, nihao, namaste, annyong, kamusta, talofalava, bula, salam alaikum

And warm Pacific greetings – on this cold Dunedin morning – to you all.

***

It’s a privilege to be representing the Green Party at your AGM.

We in the Greens are deeply concerned that the debate about immigration policy in New Zealand has, over the course of time, come to be dominated by populist politicians preaching a xenophobic message in order to gain political advantage.

This ugly strain of political discourse is quieter at times of low net migration into New Zealand, but rises at times of when net migration is high – as it is now, and so, at this election, sadly, the xenophobic drum is beating louder.

Last year I made an attempt to try and shift the terms of the debate away from the rhetoric and more towards a more evidence-based approach.

We commissioned some research which indicated that immigration settings would be best if tied to population growth.

Unfortunately, by talking about data and numbers, rather than about values, I made things worse.

Because the background terms of the debate are now so dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, when I dived into numbers and data, a lot of people interpreted that as pandering to the rhetoric, rather than trying to elevate the debate and pull it in a different direction.

We were mortified by that, because, in fact, the Greens have the ambition of being the most migrant-friendly party in Parliament. And I am sorry for any effect it may have had on your communities.

Migrants are not to blame for the social and economic ills of this country.

Migrants are not to blame for the housing crisis.

Migrants are not to blame for our children who go to school hungry.

Migrants are not to blame for the long hospital waitlists.

Migrants are not to blame for our degraded rivers.

It is the government’s failure to plan for the right level of infrastructure and services that has caused this.

***

So today I am not going to talk about numbers, but about values.

And, in all honesty, I don’t think New Zealand will be able to talk about numbers and settings until we’ve had the conversation about values and principles.

Until we can agree on those, we’ll just lurch around responding to changing circumstances or the latest headline.

And what are the values that the Green Party stands for? We stand for an open, inclusive and tolerant Aotearoa New Zealand that welcomes people who want to make a contribution.

We stand for an Aotearoa that stands up to racism and scapegoating and xenophobia.

That’s what’s missing from the debate about immigration. The rhetoric and scapegoating around election year means that people miss the fact that ‘immigrants’ aren’t a sea of strange faces.

They’re people, families, individuals. With hopes and dreams and aspirations. With fears and anxieties and worries. Humans who need love and need to love.

New New Zealanders who love their new homes and want to do so much to give and to give truth to that love.

But New Zealand needs to be better at showing that love back. We haven’t always lived up to that Kiwi mythos of giving people a fair go and being welcoming to strangers.

We have a tendency to treat immigrants as economic units who are either a benefit or a threat to our narrow economic interests.

We tend not to think of immigrants as people in their own right, as people who come to this country for the promise of a better life – as all our ancestors once did.

***

Look at how we treat our migrant workers – often putting them through harsh conditions and low pay just for the privilege of coming here.

It’s shameful that although only 5% of the total workforce are migrant workers – about a third of prosecutions involving employment condition violations involve a migrant worker.

And MBIE doesn’t have enough resources to deal with the problem. We know from their 2016 annual report that they’re falling well short of doing the interventions they need (up to 1049 short) and that one in five investigations are taking longer than six months.

That’s unacceptable. We will invest more resources into the Labour Inspectorate so that we can have more proactive investigations and less migrant worker exploitation.

***

And look at how we treat non-Pakeha New Zealanders in this country. According to a report by the human rights commissioner – one-in-ten Pasifika and one-in-five Asians have faced discrimination in the last 12 months.

Having a non-Pakeha name means you’re 50% less likely to get a call-back for a job interview. Being a migrant means you’re more likely to be over-qualified and over-experienced in the job you do.

And we need to address these issues. The Greens want to trial ethnicity-blind and gender-blind CVs to address discrimination.

***

Look also at how we treat our multicultural associations and migrant centres. Last month the Canterbury Migrant Centre was forced to close due to lack of funding.

The value that your groups bring to New Zealand – not only in easing the settlement process for new migrants but for the diversity and social connections you bring to your areas has been underappreciated for far too long.

The Greens at the heart of government will initiate a funding review so that the valuable work you do is rewarded and recognized through a consistent baseline of funding – so you can get on with the job rather than having to constantly chase the next dollar.

***

Look at how we rip off foreign students with the promise of a so-called high-quality New Zealand education and a pathway to residency.

But then thousands, if not tens of thousands, of these students end up in terribly dodgy private training establishments, doing courses that get them a certificate barely worth the paper it’s printed on and of no value to being able to find a job.

And in the meantime they end up being exploited, working for below minimum wages, and unable to get decent accommodation at a price they can afford. I mean, what way is that to treat anybody, let alone a guest in our house? That’s just a rip-off.

***

I’m proud to lead a party that stands for the politics of love and inclusion, not hate and fear.

I’m also proud to be standing with the most diverse list of candidates we’ve ever put forward for an election. They include:

Two Pasifika candidates – Leilani Tamu, a former diplomat and Fulbright Scholar, and Teanau Tuiono, an climate change advocate for the Pacific Islands
Two Chinese New Zealanders – David Lee, a City Councillor, and Julie Zhu, a freelancer in the theatre and film industries
Raj Singh, an Indian lawyer and successful business owner
Rebekah Jaung, a Korean doctor, currently also doing her PhD
Ricardo Menéndez March, from Mexico, a migrant rights campaigner.
And of course, many of you will have already read about Golriz Ghahraman, who came to New Zealand as a nine-year old refugee from Iran, and who is now an Oxford-educated human rights lawyer who puts war criminals on trial at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

These, our candidates for Parliament in this year’s election, represent our commitment to the journey of looking more like modern New Zealand and being able to advocate for all New Zealanders.

And we are the furthest along this journey that we have ever been – thanks to the efforts of my colleague Denise Roche, who has been reaching out to ethnic and migrant communities, with sixty-five meetings all over New Zealand, over the last three years.

But we do still have a long way to go.

We will continue to make sure that our party not only looks like modern New Zealand – but also reflects the needs of all New Zealanders.

We haven’t always gotten it right – and we won’t always in the future, either.

But I promise that we will listen to you and learn from our mistakes.

Openness, inclusiveness and tolerance must win out over racism and scapegoating and xenophobia.

Love and inclusion must win out over hate and fear.

We are only great, when we are great together.

 

More Peters posturing on immigration

Winston Peters gave a speech yesterday to the Auckland Rotary Club, slamming immigration and other party’s policies on immigration.

He started oddly:

Fully aware as one’s experience tells you that this is not an audience susceptible to conversion when the facts are laid out.

That said, it is the intention of this address, to lay some facts before you which you are going to have to live with whether you like it or not.

The first fact is, “you can have great wealth in the hands of a few or you can have democracy and stability – but you can’t have both.”

That is not a fact. It’s nonsense.

Anyone who follows international events knows that we are in troubling, restless and uncertain times.

There is growing discontent in many democracies.

That does appear to be true.

People are increasingly dissatisfied with what the major establishment parties of both the Left and Right have delivered.

Any society that allows a pool of discontented and disaffected young people to grow is playing with fire.

Peters is firing off shots here but I don’t think this is anywhere near as relevant to new Zealand as to some other countries.

People who are buying their own home have a purpose, a direction, and a structure for their lives.

People who are buying a home put down roots in their community – because they have a stake in it.

And secure housing is vital in creating the conditions for raising families.

In general that’s true.

They are not then vulnerable to the blandishments of trouble makers.

That’s an odd statement.

For that reason every New Zealand government prior to this one has worked hard to create the conditions that favour widespread home ownership.

But thanks to both Labour, first, and then National that era has ended.

He seems to contradict himself. Labour ran the government prior to the current National government – and Peters was a part of that Government. There was a major surge in house prices during that time.

It is fashionable for media types to talk about the “gig economy” as something trendy and hip.

I mustn’t be trendy, I haven’t heard of the “gig economy”.

A home and a job – those are core aspects of every adult life.

Labour and then National’s shameful failure in both areas has blighted the lives of countless Kiwis.

The truth is that after 32 years of the neo-liberal experiment the character and the quality of our country has changed dramatically, and much of it for the worse.

Pushing the ‘neo-liberal’ button. Peters has been a part of the establishment Parliament for most of that 32 years (and three terms prior).

  • in 1990 Peters became a Minister in the National Government.
  • In 1996, leading NZ First, Peters helped National form a coalition government and took on the roles of Treasurer (senior to Minister of Finance) and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • In 2005 helped Labour form a coalition government, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Racing.

He has been a willing participant in “the neo-liberal experiment”, although was sacked twice for being contrary.

For those who try to refute that statement let them give us the evidence of how we have risen in the graphs of real economic comparisons and not have countless alternative facts susceptible to various sociological interpretations and beloved only in the eye of the beholder.

What?

Such as – show us one piece of economic analysis, just one piece, that says mass immigration is good for a modern economy.

He throws an alternative fact in – New Zealand does not have anything like “mass immigration”, our immigration is very controlled. Most of the fluctuations in numbers are due to the free movement of New Zealanders.

Allowing unprecedented levels of immigration – a staggering 72,000 net migrants a year – directly impacts housing and jobs.

You heard that correctly. There is no mistake.

But there is a mistake. The current rate of net immigration has risen to 71,900 (year to April 2017), but that is a 10% increase on the previous year, it is not per year.

Annual net migration (to July each year):

  • 2016:  +69,000
  • 2015: +59,600
  • 2014: +41,000
  • 2013: +10,600
  • 2012: -3,800
  • 2011: +2,900
  • 2010: +15,200
  • 2009: +14,500
  • 2008: +

It is as plain as day – immigrants need housing and jobs themselves. Notice they don’t bring housing and jobs with them!

But only one political party in New Zealand understood that for a long time.

Yeah, right.

Labour admitted that last week. On this matter their policy is identical to National’s.

That is not a fact.

So here is their FARCICAL VIRTUOUS CIRCLE.

“We need more migrants, to build the houses and the roads for migrants.”

What utter stupendous, imbecilic, idiotic, moronic nonsense.

Yet these parties are in total denial of the facts – they have either the arrogance or stupidity to pretend this isn’t so.

Peters mentions ‘facts’ frequently but rarely actually cites facts.

If we had a government that was actually serious about improving the housing and employment prospects of young people we would see action.

There has been action, it has just been inadequate.

It would pull the obvious lever it does have – and close the open immigration door.

The Government can adjust immigration levels – but it is difficult switching numbers off and on quickly, especially when a large proportion of movements is New Zealanders, which can’t be controlled.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on 12 June the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag and revealed what is actually behind the absurd level of immigration.

When asked why there was not a drastic cutback to immigration his reply was that if that happened it would stall the economy. Bingo!  So that’s how strong the economy really is.

In effect, Bill English is saying “IMMIGRATION IS THE ECONOMY”. So if the brakes are applied, collapse is on the cards.

At last the admission that the whole dishonest show on the economy is a con.

Who is trying to con who?

All our policies are framed with a concern for the future health and security of New Zealand as a whole.

The New Zealand national interest is our starting point.

And there is one overriding imperative right now that is in the national interest and it is to cut back immigration to a sensible level.

We mean closer to 10,000 highly skilled immigrants a year, not 72,000 mostly unskilled immigrants per year.

Many of the 72,000 are skilled migrants and returning New Zealanders.

Our policy will immediately brighten the housing and employment prospects for younger Kiwis.

That’s doubtful, especially on housing, as much as the Government and the Auckland City Council have tried there are no easy or quick fixes to the housing shortage.

If we don’t deal to this crisis created by the other political parties support or condonation of mass immigration we can’t effectively deal with any other concern.

And because of the magnitude of their shorts-sightedness it is going to take well over a decade to fix up.

So it won’t immediately brighten the future.

But beginning with this issue New Zealand First has the policies to rebuild this country and when our manifesto is out soon I trust you will read it.

In the next 96 days you are going to see or hear numerous speculative comment on what New Zealand First is going to do and you can be certain of one thing. None of those commentators will be reciting anything I said.

I have just recited what Peters has said from  Speech: Rt Hon Winston Peters – The farcical virtuous circle, immigration is the economy

But the great news, confirmed from overseas evidence, is that those in politics who speak straight to the people, do gain their support.

And quickly lose that support when their deeds don’t match their rhetoric, as Donald Trump. And Peters barely uses Twitter anyway.

Bad timing by Greens on refugees

Greens want to substantially increase the number of refugees coming into New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB:  Greens push for even bigger intake of refugees

The Green Party is pushing for an even bigger intake of refugees into New Zealand.

It is looking to further extend the country’s refugee policy, and is committing to do more than double the current quota.

Co-leader James Shaw said they would aim to increase the quota to 4000 refugees a year, to be phased in over six years.

“We would need to build an additional refugee resettlement centre, that would not be in Auckland. We would be asking council to apply. We know that there are number who are already keen,” he said.

Shaw said they would also introduce a new community support programme that would allow NGOs and support agencies to take in another 1000 refugees annually.

“When the Syrian crisis really hit the front pages last year, we did hear from a lot of community organisation, church groups and NGO’s to say actually we do have capacity, we do want to be able to support refugees. And so we are taking them up on that offer,” he said.

Immigration is a hot topic leading into the New Zealand election campaign.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First wants to substantially reduce immigration numbers, but they don’t seem to have any policy on refugees – see their Immigration Policy.

Labour announced policy last week that would reduce overall immigration by tens of thousands – see Time for a breather on immigration – but that doesn’t mention refugees. A fact sheet states “These changes won’t affect the Refugee Quota”. It also gives numbers:

Labour will increase the refugee quota to 1,500.

This will continue Labour’s proud tradition of welcoming victims of war and disaster to our shores, which extends back to taking in refugees during World War II and is just as needed today, with conflicts such as in Syria creating the largest number of displaced persons since 1945.

The Green proposal is substantially more, with an eventual aim of 4,000 refugees per year.

There may be many more Syrian refugees looking for a safe haven as their civil war escalates yet again – see US shoot down Syrian jet – but with an escalation in Muslim tensions in the UK – see London Finsbury Park Mosque attack – there are likely to be growing concerns and opposition.

The timing of Green proposal may have been pre-planned but it is unlikely to be well received with the current international situations deteriorating.

 

 

Shaw could work with Peters with gritted teeth

James Shaw has said he would prefer not to have to work with Winston Peters, but would if it meant changing the Government (getting National out of power).

This suggests he sees a NZ First dictated coalition as better for the country than the current Government.

It also implies that he thinks a Labour+Green+NZ First collation would do better for Green policy preferences than National+Green

Newshub: ‘If I have to’ – Greens co-leader James Shaw on working with Winston Peters

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he’ll work with Winston Peters if that’s what it takes to change the Government.

“If you look at the trends in the polls… it’s about level pegging,” says Mr Shaw. “This is a very close election.”

“I can [work with Mr Peters] if I have to. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

It may be the Greens only choice if they refuse to work with National.

Last year Mr Shaw and his co-leader Metiria Turei were split on whether working with the National Party was a possibility – Mr Shaw open to it, and Ms Turei “100 percent” against it.

It is claimed that Green Party members, who theoretically at least would make any decision on who they would and wouldn’t go into coalition with, are strongly against working with National.

On current polling Labour+Greens are nowhere near getting a majority, and Labour has gone backwards in the latest Newshub poll to 26%. Greens didn’t pick up all Labour’s shed support, they were on 12.5% but combined that is less than 40%.

NZ First rose more to 9.4% and may challenge Greens for the third party spot. They may have no choice than to go with NZ First and Labour.

If that happens it won’t only be Shaw with gritted teeth.

In an interview with The Spinoff in March, Ms Turei said despite Mr Peters being “annoying as hell” and holding “racist views”, she admired him for his tenacity and the advice he’s given her over the years.

Shane Jones looks set to join NZ First and seems to have more rancid racist views – see Jones signals a rancid approach.

Greens claim to be much better than this, but Shaw suggests they would join with it anyway, ironically to oust National who have more open immigration policies than Labour and especially NZ First.

Who needs principles when you want power?