Opinion

Same crap, different minister

When the hopeless Kris Faafoi stepped aside and Michael Wood took over the Immigration portfolio I was filled with hope that he would see the light, listen to the public and health sector and add nurses to the fast-track immigration list for residency. 

You also told me you were optimistic, nurses did as well.

For a minute it seemed as if our prayers had been answered. Michael Wood’s tone was less equivocal, less pigheaded.

Remember Faafoi was obstinate and only willing to review the policy after a year, here’s what he told us in May.

"We are happy with the settings as they are and we will review them in 12 months," said Faafoi.

But Wood immediately seemed more amenable to an earlier review. 

And actually, we asked him again just last week to please listen to these nurses and again, he placated us with this refrain.

"I’ve said I’ll continue to keep a very close eye on it, I’m focussed on outcomes," said Wood.

The problem is - this is smoke, mirrors and spin.

Do not be fooled. If you thought this meant he was actually keeping a very close eye on things, that he was actively reviewing the policy, and that he’s considering changes. Think again. 

What he’s talking about - disingenuously - is the same annual review of the immigration settings that were always built into the green list. That same review Faafoi had pledged. 

National’s Immigration spokeswoman Erica Stanford asked this parliamentary question of the minister.

Question: Does he stand by his statement that "as I've said consistently along the way: the outcome is what matters. I'll be keeping a close eye on how the settings go"?

Reply from the minister: Yes. The one-year review of the Green List will occur in 2023. 

That’s not a close eye, that’s just the one-year review. 

That’s not this...

Wood: "I’ll continue to keep a very close eye on it."

It’s just this...

Faafoi: "We will review in 12 months."

Same crap, different minister, but worse - dressed up with a bow pretending to be better. 

I’d also point out that the one-year review is politically far worse for Labour.

It waits a year, reviews the policy... Ta-da! Discover what everyone’s been telling it since day one, it’s buggered, the Government finally admits it was wrong, is forced to change the policy because it's been making the nursing crisis worse for a year - except instead of doing that now, all this is happening just four months out from an election.