New Zealand Herald (Auckland), May 20, 2008
Inundated with telephone calls and emails after publishing a report that concludes Pacific Islander immigrants are a drain on the economy, an Auckland academic is hitting back at “political correctness bullies”.
Economist Greg Clydesdale, of Massey University’s management and international business department warns in his report that Polynesians display “significant and enduring under-achievement”—a problem immigration was making worse.
Pacific Islanders’ poor education and low employment were creating an underclass and a drain on the economy, the report says.
The study is to be presented at a July conference in Brazil.
It says Polynesian immigrants are less productive and less likely to contribute to economic growth.
They had the highest unemployment in every age group, were less likely to start businesses and had lower rates of self-employment.
Polynesians were also over-represented in crime statistics, had higher rates of convictions and prosecutions and were more likely to be victims of violent crime.
The report said they were more likely to need government help for housing and income.
Community leaders, including Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban, have rejected the underclass claims and condemned the study as “lazy and unprofessional”.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said the study appeared to have reached “extreme” conclusions, although he admitted not having read it and said his office was trying to obtain a copy.
Since the report was published in the Dominion-Post newspaper today, Dr Clydesdale said his phones and emails had been running hot, but comments were “generally supportive”.
However, Dr Clydesdale said he had a “huge concern” that people would write off his work as “extremist”.
“I’m not saying anything new. This is government data,” he told NZPA. “All I’m saying is what the implications of this data are for future economic growth.”
Dr Clydesdale said he expected people would call him “a racist” for putting out the report.
“It’s scary. New Zealand’s future growth depends on its ability to create new products and production processes. We’re going to have a large proportion of the population without the educational requirements to create that.”
Dr Clydesdale said political correctness was smothering rigorous debate.
“The PC bullies are clamping on this debate so it stays at the level of simplicity and it’s doing exceptional harm to the New Zealand economy,” he said.
“As a result, the debate on this issue has reached the point of intellectual bankruptcy.”
Dr Clydesdale said New Zealanders should be able to debate the issue without being labelled extremist.
“We do need to discuss these issues and the PC bullies have got to open their minds to intellectual debate.”