'Trump, Brexit, rise of far right result of not rethinking immigration'- economist

Economic experts are warning we need to rethink our immigration policy to avoid a backlash against immigrants.  

Consulting Economist Julie Fry says overly simplistic approaches to immigration policy have caused problems around the world.

"If you look at the rise of the far right in Europe, if you look at the Trump presidency, if you look at Brexit, these are all in part driven by people responding to feelings they have around immigration."

Ms Fry and Peter Wilson, Principal Economist from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, have written a book called "Better Lives" in which they detail a new way of approaching immigration.

The authors argue that looking at immigration solely in terms of its effect on GDP is too limited and a more holistic approach is needed.

They say the Government should consider wellbeing factors when creating policy, which includes immigrants’ effect on things like housing, education, health and the environment.

The authors argue migrants may have a negative effect on one area, but often balance that with a positive increase in another.

"We need to look at all the costs and all the benefits of immigration overall, not just zero in on the GDP," Mr Wilson says.

Ms Fry also suggests we may be using immigration to cover up problems in other areas.

"Maybe we are using immigration to compensate for the shortcomings of our education system,” she says.

Mr Wilson also argues that iwi need to be more represented in discussions around immigration.  

"The key point is we need to talk about immigration from a wide range of perspectives, including reference to the Treaty. It's not the only thing, but it's an important thing and it's not being talked about right now."

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