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I thought we voted National – Labour’s in charge, can we still hire Filipinos?

This blog will be my first of many to keep clients, candidates and friends of Cross Country Recruitment Limited up to speed on the issues facing our industry.

The turnout of voters for the 2017 election was 73% more than those that showed up in 2011 and 42% higher than votes made in 2014. We should feel comfortable that the government in power today is representing more New Zealanders than ever before. But do we feel this way?

Aside from the recent election, voter turnout has been on a downward slide since the 1960s, when it reliably reached 90 per cent. It has declined in each election since the start of MMP, with the exception of 2002. Does MMP remain to be the most suitable system for electing government when coalitions or agreements between political parties are usually needed before Governments can be formed?

It is well known that National has traditionally been the most popular party amongst farmers, with the view that National represents farmers best, whilst Labour has often achieved the best outcomes for farmers. However, it’s not all that encouraging to rural New Zealand when the current government has recently proposed a water tax, bringing farming into the Emissions Trading Scheme, investigating a potential capital gains tax and a land tax. Not to mention the media suggestion of plans to cut immigrant numbers by up to 30,000. Who’s going to milk the cows?

Referring to my opening point, if 44.4% of us voters aligned ourselves with the blue party, do we feel comfortable that the policies of a coalition red, green and the opposite of white government will represent our best intentions for the dairy industry of NZ? 

To be honest, I do not think that the change in government we are currently facing is going to have as greater effect on our lives as is sometimes portrayed by the ‘fake news’. The world is a different place from that we thought we knew as little as five years ago. A man with an orange do, a 37-year-old who's never had a real job, and BREXIT amongst some of the most interesting results since Hitler got to power in 1932, following taking only 35% of the vote (at least he was honest?!).

In my opinion, whilst written off by many, elections (and their results) has become a fascinating source of entertainment. But what does this mean for those of us who have come to enjoy life out of the shed? Well, I don’t think you will have to don the gloves anytime soon.

Let’s look firstly at what will make up the numbers..

With labour in power with 37% of the vote, a large portion of kiwi’s that might have contemplated the move home will quite possibly change their minds. Conversely, a lot of those considering the OE might also be one leap closer. Whilst net migration has been high over recent years, 70,900 in the year end September 2017, this included 32000 kiwis coming home. With a red flag floating around the traps a 15% change of both kiwis leaving and kiwis staying would result in ⅓ of the 30,000 cut in immigrant numbers that’s being bandied around.

Along with this, under Labour’s policy, a decrease in student visas granted of 10,000 and post study work visa’s falling by a similar amount, Labour’s announcements will be achieved without having to make any change at all to the work visa’s that you and I are concerned about. We’d all love to hire kiwi’s on farms, but the reality is, they just don’t exist. Dairy cow numbers have doubled in the last twenty years, kiwi’s that want to roll out of bed at 4am, sadly have not. Whilst plenty of opportunity still exists for kiwi’s at management level and above, we just don’t have the numbers interested enough to get the job done. In walks Rodel Macatigbac that shows up everyday smiling, respects the boss and throws 110% for longer than a 90 day trial period (if you’re lucky) because he’s supporting the wife and kids back home in the Philippines.

Aside from the labourites, uncle winny and his cronies actually have a fairly good understanding of the labour required in provincial New Zealand. Ron Marks, current Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs, is on the board of a number of farming businesses including Pouakani Trust Farms in the central plateau as well as deputy chair of the Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, a $200 million, 11,000 hectare Maori Agri-business. In catching up with him at the Central Districts fieldays in March it was evident that NZ First had no intention of making it anymore difficult for New Zealand’s farmers to obtain labour.

Again this is only my opinion, but I feel that making any changes to labour supply for the dairy industry will not go down easily with National in the strongest opposition position in history and Uncle Winny as deputy prime minister due to his popularity amongst rural and provincial voters. We need a government that believes that the future of dairy lies in increased productivity, not what labour and the greens want to do to rural New Zealand. Maybe the scaremongering Bill English and his party undertook to try and get uncle winny’s vote wasn’t the best tactic after all. Then again, maybe I should get a new car, red’s faster.

I like to stay in charge of my own destiny, cooperation vs. corporation.

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