New Zealand makes clear that its own citizens come first

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

New Zealand is introducing tougher immigration requirements for skilled overseas workers.

Immigration numbers in the country have reached an all-time high.

News of the requirement change comes after Australia said it would scrap a temporary visa for skilled workers. That these two countries, which are isolated islands and physically hard to get to other than by air, are nonetheless focusing on how best to control immigration is a reflection of the scale of the pressures on all developed countries.

These pressures will only increase in the years to come, as the population in places such as Africa rises sharply and hundreds of millions of children reach the sort of age when they can think of undertaking long and difficult journeys.

Australia and New Zealand have generally managed their immigration well, although their geographic isolation makes it easier, as does the fact that they have a lot of room to accommodate large numbers of people. But both countries have also been prepared to defend their dominant culture. It is hard to imagine a British minister speaking in a similar way to New Zealand’s minister Michael Woodhouse, who said: “We are absolutely committed to the principle of kiwis first.”

New Zealand is also showing admirable toughness by making clear that if industries find it harder to recruit the people they need, so be it. This sort of thinking is particularly appropriate for England, the southeast of which is one of the most densely populated regions on Earth. There comes a point at which the cultural and infrastructural fabric of a nation is more important than endless pursuit of economic growth.

Brexit is now under way in the UK. A key reason it was backed by the voting public was the growing feeling that Britain must be able to regain control of its borders.

Many other countries are showing the same concern for their own immigration controls, including some of the remaining 27 EU states. If the EU is unable to agree a common approach in the years to come, that will be their problem, not the UK’s.