Italian migrants are welcome – but here’s hoping we find jobs for them on dry land

They are not so clever when it comes to captaining cruise liners, apparently.

Alf was delighted to read that that New Zealand is proving a favoured place for European immigrants trying to escape the economic downturn.

This reflects well on the country: it’s a great place to live in, although not too many of the migrants have yet discovered that Eketahuna is the best part of the country to live in.

It also reflects well on the Government in which Alf is proud to serve: our economic management obviously is superior to that of the governments in the countries from which the migrants are coming.

Or rather, these migrants obviously believe we run a good shop.

But the Herald today published some dastardly stuff about costs of living increasing in New Zealand and wages not increasing to match, while Australians enjoy longer lives and lower unemployment.

Figures included in Statistics New Zealand’s annual report, New Zealand in Profile 2012, compared the living standards of New Zealand and its five main tourism markets: Australia (1,111,000), the United Kingdom (220,000), the United States (188,000), China (132,000) and Japan (79,000).

New Zealand has higher unemployment levels than Australia, with 5.3 percent of the working population unemployed in Australia compared to 6.8 percent in New Zealand.

People are also living longer in the Lucky Country. The male life expectancy at birth in New Zealand is 78.8, compared to 79.4 across the Tasman, while the female life expectancy at birth here is 82.7, compared to 84.4 in Australia.

Australia’s GDP per capita is higher, at US$54,000 compared to US$31,000 in New Zealand. The Consumer Price Index is higher in New Zealand, at 5.3 percent compared to 3.6 percent.

And so on.

When word gets around about these comparisons, we may no longer attract the influx of Europeans who are now coming here.

But whoa.

One element of the story at Stuff was a bit more disturbing.

It tells us –

Italians and the Irish are leading the influx as European job markets stall.

There were 50 per cent more Irish migrants in the year till last November than in 2010 (1545 compared with 1030) and 29 per cent more Italians (160 compared with 124).

Alf has no problem with news that the Wellington Irish community is flourishing as the jobseekers arrive.

According to one of the newcomers:

“It’s dismal [in Ireland]. There’s just absolutely no work at the moment in construction, and so many other industries.

“People talk about the recession in New Zealand but it’s absolutely nothing compared to what’s going on at home.”

It was “unbelievable” how many Irish people had come to live in Wellington since he arrived.

And the Irish do make a nice drop of whisky.

Fair to say, Alf is relaxed – by and large – about the Italians, too.

But he adds a proviso.

He is relaxed, depending on what jobs they can get.

Italian chefs, fine.

Italian fashion designers, fine.

But just think of what might happen if one of the buggers comes here brandishing the sorts of credentials that result in his taking command of one of our inter-Island ferries!

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