The government's latest announcement on immigration - was not a bang - that many had expected - but a whimper - that many had experienced in the recent past from this government on immigration issues.
The speech, which was earlier planned to be given by Immigration Minister Kris Fafooi and expected to be a major announcement on immigration issues, was delivered by Regional Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash and was at best - a vision document for the future of NZ economy - and its relation with low-skill based immigration.
It offered no value or respite to the tens of thousands of temporary migrant workers whose lives have been turned upside down because of inefficient handling of the immigration department under this government as they continue to deal with the system year after year without any clear direction from the government.
Ideally, that speech should never have been written for the Immigration Minister in the first place as it offered no operational direction for the immigration policy. At best, what it offered, and so indifferently delivered by Minister Nash, was a rhetoric repetition of what has been largely known publicly - that the Labour Party absolutely detests the current economic growth model underpinned by low-skill based mass-immigration.
The speech given on Monday, May 17, was a mere repetition of what has been previously said multiple times, albeit in a different background and for different audiences.
Finance Minister Grant Roberston had on April 12 articulated the need for immigration-reset in a letter to the Productivity Commission when setting up terms of reference for an enquiry into Immigration Settings under the new reality of Covid imposed disruptions on the economy.
Prime Jacinda Ardern had herself hinted as late as on May 7 in a speech before Business New Zealand about the impending immigration reset that has become imminent only because of Covid induced economic disruption and not of any pre-existing abomination toward the low skill-based immigration approach to fuel the country's economy.
It is important to recall that this country has been hearing the Labour Party's vision for a high skill-based, highly productive economy right from 2016 when the Party first released its immigration policy as part of the election manifesto for 2017 elections, multiple times from multiple platforms and under multiple leaders.
Then why another speech by another Minister, and why a mere pre-announcement of an announcement that has to happen in the future?
The Labour Party has till date not been able to present a credible plan on how to leapfrog NZ from the current model of low-skilled base mass immigration to a highly skilled based highly productive economy without causing any "collateral damage" on the business sector and the wider economy - except for well-intentioned, well-meaning, wishful thinking.
What was the need for another speech to reiterate the same vision document on the need to get rid of the low-skill based immigration approach in a post-Covid-world?
It is largely given.
At least prospective future migrants and New Zealand based businesses and employers would largely anticipate in a post-Covid world and are instead crying for a clear plan and support from the government to navigate through disruptions caused by Covid.
The latest speech was clearly short on substance as far as these two important constituencies are concerned.
However, the speech had some very clear - not so good - deliverables for a vast, invisible constituency of "temporary migrant workers."
Govt's snubbing of "temporary migrant workers stuck overseas" continues unabated
Every time government announces a new category of border exception and MIQ spaces that allows new migrant workers - either critically skilled or low skilled fruit pickers from Pacific Islands for New Zealand's struggling horticulture industry - it stamps its continued snubbing on tens of thousands of temporary migrant workers who were ordinarily living in New Zealand before borders were shut and they were not allowed back despite having legitimate visas issued by the government.
This remains the single biggest "collateral damage" of the government's star Covid-management policy. Tens of thousands of temporary migrant workers - including post-study work visa holders who have invested tens of thousands of dollars in New Zealand are denied what was completely legitimate based on their visas - the right to live and work in the country.
That this is happening under the watch of the most kind and compassionate government that New Zealand has seen in recent years is just surreal.
Govt's continued apathy of temporary migrant workers stuck in long immigration queues
The fact that a major speech planned by the Immigration Minister with a claim for immigration reset was absolutely silent on the fate of tens of thousands of temporary migrant workers (both onshore and offshore) who have been helplessly waiting in immigration processing queues for Skilled Migrant Category Visas is just a plain demonstration of the government's apathy towards this invisible class of migrant workers.
If any doubts were raised in last week's noisy demonstrations by migrant union networks in front of the parliament that they were able to raise voices for temporary migrant workers currently onshore waiting for their residency applications assessment that was quashed by the speech delivered by Minister Stuart Nash.
There was neither an honest admission that their plight was purely a creation of this government's inefficiency much before the Covid pandemic had emerged and given this government a magical shield to hide behind it and shirk all its responsibility of fixing the problem nor an attempt to fix it anytime soon.
The glimmer of hope that many would have construed - only in their minds though - after the last week's protest in front of the parliament that at least those onshore had a better pathway and clarity of direction would have been extinguished by utter lack of plan for them in the speech.
Govt's royal snub of ethnic migrant workers union networks
Another important observation that would have escaped largely unnoticed from mainstream media commentaries on this supposedly important immigration related speech - is the royal snub of the ethnic migrant workers union network.
For uninitiated, many union networks had made successful inroads within the ethnic migrant communities, including the Kiwi-Indian migrant communities in the last decade, largely on the basis of raising migrant exploitation issues, but also, and importantly tapping on their mutually shared ethnic and linguistic linkages with those ethnic migrant communities.
Those ethnic migrant union networks had some notable successes towards the closing years of the last National government when the issues of international student exploitation by unscrupulous immigration agents had become widely noted in the government.
At that time, the Labour Party MPs had gained significant inroads within ethnic migrant communities riding on some hard groundwork done by ethnic migrant union networks.
As a consequence of that bonhomie and the Labour Party's eventual catapulting into the government, those ethnic migrant union networks were emboldened to envision themselves as an equal partner in the Labour Party's Labour movement and an agent of social change.
This speech threatens that self-vision of ethnic migrant union networks - as they stand to face a consistent and uncomfortable line of questioning from those who they have been so passionately claiming to support for and lobby with the Labour government - ethnic temporary migrant workers.
As more and more temporary ethnic migrant workers continue to become collateral damage of the government's Covid management and permanently lose their money, assets, and years invested in New Zealand, their position and relationship with a Labour government will come under scrutiny and be challenged.
At least, these ethnic migrant union networkers would not have a legitimate position of representing the migrant workers' interests and be in bed with a Labour government as those two positions will become progressively untenable.
For now, the Labour government had clearly thrown the ethnic migrant union networks under the bus by not caring for the constituency that they claim to represent in favour of another constituency that the Labour government is unabashedly wanting to preserve under the guise of an immigration reset.