On Sunday, the former leader of the National Party and former Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Don Brash told journalists that he thought that the rebuild of Christchurch would require it to turn a blind eye to illegal immigrants as the need for workers would over ride all over considerations. Coming days after concerns were again raised about issues pertaining to fraudulent rebuild activity, and efforts getting New Zealand unemployed back into work by helping Christchurch, the suggestion that illegal non-New Zealand migrants should be accepted, sends all of the wrong messages to New Zealanders. It also raises serious questions about whether the Government has planned for the huge influx of workers – legal or otherwise – now arriving in New Zealand.
My suspicion is that the Government has done some planning, however it has been overwhelmed by the scale of the rebuild now unfolding and has no idea of how to keep up. Suggestions such as those by Dr Brash do nothing to help the situation. So, what are the issues that are raised?
1) How many of the local unemployed, like myself could be found work and how much effort is being made in this regard?
I have spent the last year trying, thus far without success to find a job in Christchurch and so have many other people. The large numbers of unemployed in Christchurch should be given first crack at finding work by the Government. It appears to have done little to assist people with disabilities in the post-earthquake environment. Just because they are disabled does not mean they cannot work, and there are many office jobs that they would excel at. Many such jobs now exist or very shortly will to handle the record keeping; the planning of projects and their administration.
I am not disabled, so theoretically I should have no problems getting an office type job here. I have outstanding verbal and written communication skills, knowledge of Microsoft Office. I graduated in natural hazard management and have some understanding of resource management planning. And why cannot scores of others like me get work either?
2) What are the skills that are required?
Although I have been told by Work and Income New Zealand staff that the two major employers in Christchurch are the construction and the hopsitality sectors, such a major project as the Christchurch rebuild will generally mean growth in available jobs across the board. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and so forth will be just some of the people needed. The supply of building materials, such as wood, steel, cement, aluminium and plastics will all be needed in greater quantities and would need to be sourced in New Zealand, which means people able to manufacture these items will be needed. There will also be a need for the bartenders, waiting staff, chefs and so forth as the workers will need sources of entertainment. Sporting codes will do well because many of the men will likely want to play rugby, cricket, soccer, so clubs will experience a surge in membership.
3) Keeping on top of the legalese.
An army of administrators has to be at work somewhere keeping on top of the legal paperwork, ensuring the resource management, occupational safety and health, employment laws among others are being complied with. It is all very well working in Christchurch and being part of the rebuild, but if one is non-compliant with the law they are ruining it for potentially everybody else. Every accident that occurs, every illegal dumping of waste could be potentially setting up problems to occur further down the track. I am having a really hard time believing that there is not an explosion of office based jobs sorting all of this out in progress. It seems natural to me that as New Zealanders will be the most likely to be familiar with New Zealand for reasons I do not need to explain, they should be getting first crack at these jobs.
But are they?