It pains us to say it, but this ANZAC Day the Aussies have played our Prime Minister like a didgeridoo. A path to citizenship will be welcome relief for the 700 thousand-odd Kiwis living in Australia, but it’s not an act of kindness. If they were worried about New Zealand they wouldn’t have spent the last decade exporting their worst criminals here.

No, the whole Western world is engaged in a war for talent. Smart governments know they need to plug the gap left in workforces by ageing populations (and accelerated recently by COVID disruptions). You hear it from everyone in New Zealand trying to run a business and compete with the world. They cannot get enough people to fill their orders.

That’s one reason why Labour’s ‘immigration reset’ designed to reduce immigration was so silly, and they have largely abandoned it. They were not thinking about what’s going on in the rest of the world, and how New Zealand secures its place as a first world country.

The Aussies know there’s a war for workers. They’re laying out the welcome mat with their immigration policies (for example their seasonal worker scheme is uncapped and has a pathway to residence). They start with good weather, nice beaches, and high incomes.

And as they look around, where is a highly educated population of people who speak English and fit into their culture and their legal and political systems more easily than anyone else on earth? Not difficult to work out.

The path to citizenship deal is not an act of kindness but a raid on people trained up at great expense by the New Zealand taxpayer. And there was Chris Hipkins, smiling for the cameras saying it’s a ‘generational’ and ‘historic’ change, putting out press releases about it three days in a row. They played him like a didgeridoo.

The fact Labour are trying to take the credit is even stranger than it seems at first blush. What Government would want to claim they made it easier for citizens to leave and live in another country? It wasn’t even their achievement, being a decision of the Australian Government anyway.

The only reason Free Press can guess they’re happy is they figure it won’t be Labour voters who get up and go.

It didn’t need to be like this. Fifteen years ago ACT negotiated for the Government to commission the 2025 Taskforce. Needless to say it was ignored by the Key Government, but it was designed to close the gap with Australia by 2025.

The taskforce recommended a series of changes that won’t surprise Free Press readers. Cut government waste, cut taxes, more choice and innovation in social services, reduce benefit dependency, and more discipline in Government regulation.

None of that happened. If anything, red tape, government waste, and educational standards have gotten worse, while the Government openly says its policies are not supposed to be democratic. Sadly, that hasn’t helped with economic growth.

When the Key Government came to power the median wage was $11,900 higher in Australia. Now it is $23,400 higher. The median Aussie earner is $450 a week better off, and now they’ll throw in a passport to boot.

Nobody likes losing to Australia. If you’ve seen State of Origin, they don’t even like losing to each other. The next New Zealand Prime Minister is going to have to take the bull by the horns and make New Zealand competitive again.

The problem is that both Labour and National Prime Ministers have been happy to manage the decline in return for a title and a limo. There needs to be a circuit breaker that returns New Zealand to the values of success. That’s why a Party Vote for ACT matters more than ever this October.

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