In the opinion section of the Press this morning, these was an article from someone from Ilam who worked in London as an investment banker and dreams about a Brighter Future. No, not John Key, but council candidate Raf Manji. His brighter future for Christchurch is apparently making it a visa-free zone:

Here is my proposal: Offer any young immigrant, subject to specific criteria, an open work visa, which will expire when they hit 30. This means that someone who arrives when they are 20 can stay here for up to 10 years as a resident, at which point they have either earned permanent residency or become a citizen. The goal would be to attract a new class of creative, innovative, smart and young global citizens.

My question would be … why? What is the point of this? Firstly, any aspirational council candidate should know that the council has no ability to change immigration rules. Secondly, where is the problem that this is meant to respond to? Hundred of rebuild workers are flocking to the city already – the number of Brits and Irish, as well as some from the Philippines and other places, have been well documented. Immigration clearly isn’t a problem for them, so what is this meant to resolve?

If it’s to do with “high-skill”, I have met lots of young and relatively young professional people who have come to Christchurch since the quakes, to work in sectors like architecture and planning.  I’ve never heard any of them complaining about immigration. But lets assume that there is a problem here. If there was, then why would we be relaxing immigration rules, when we could be trying to up skill some of the young unemployed people we have in this country, especially young Maori and Pacific Islanders? Lots of these people need a trade, and we can get them down here, teach them on the job and leave them with a skill for life. Many people who come to work a trade for the rebuild might stay 10 years, in which time they may well start a family here, and choose to stay. To me, that’s far more preferable than opening the flood gates. Especially when I’ve seen no evidence of there being an actual problem.

So … what is the point of this?

In summary, we are looking for a whole new class of smart, creative and interesting people, who would love to live in a city like Christchurch. More than that, they are dynamic, entrepreneurial types, who will bring a new attitude to the city, new networks, new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Right. Who exactly is looking for a whole new class of smart, creative and interesting people? Christchurch doesn’t suffer from a lack of smart, creative and interesting people – they are here, but suffering under the weight of bureaucratic incompetence and political disenfranchisement. This whole article just reeks to me of empty, TedX-flavoured Kool-Aid. A branding exercise that takes the English language out for a flogging whilst saying nothing in particular. 

To be frank, I’ve had enough of this city vibrating with new energy.

Overall, the city will vibrate with a new energy that will create a new centre of gravity for a city in desperate need of a new vision and brand.