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Mayor puts immigration queue concerns to Minister


Hon John Banks QSO
Mayor of Auckland City

11 July 2003

Mayor puts immigration queue concerns to Minister

At the Mayoral Forum this morning, Auckland City Mayor, Hon John Banks, raised his concerns with Immigration Minister, Hon Lianne Daziel, over the long queues outside the New Zealand Immigration Service Centre at 450 Queen Street.

Mr Banks said he was aghast to recently witness nearly 100 people queuing outside in the cold and wet, all while coping with what seemed like inordinate delays.

“We have to treat our new arrivals better than this. They arrive expecting a First World country offering First World services. At the very least queuing people should be kept in touch about how long their wait’s going to take.”

Accepting the criticism, the Minister agreed that immigrants need to feel more welcome at the ‘shop-front’. She believes many are queuing that don’t need to but they simply don’t trust the system enough to drop off or send in the necessary paperwork. The Minister hopes the opening of a service centre in Henderson will alleviate the pressure off 450 Queen Street.

Mr Banks told the Minister, who was presenting her immigration policy changes to the Mayoral Forum, that the two immigration amendment bills introduced to Parliament last week “will go a long way to filling a 30-year void.”

“I applaud this eleventh hour initiative and there is much to be encouraged about. The inherent problem with immigration policy has been its lack of cohesion over the past 20 years. It has been entirely ad-hoc, mostly unfair and questionably workable.”

The Minister’s changes shift the use of the current General Skills Category from one that provides for the passive acceptance of residence applications to one that promotes the active recruitment of the skilled migrants.

“I have always supported a policy of active recruitment of skills needed for our country. I hope the proposed Skilled Migrant Category produces a win-win for the immigrants and for Auckland as the Minister promises,” says Mr Banks.

“I am highly critical of past immigration policy that has encouraged people to come to New Zealand with skills and then has left them languishing on social welfare benefits or doing menial tasks completely unrelated to their profession, training and qualifications. Correcting this is well overdue.”

The Mayor believes New Zealand’s economy would be in very bad shape if it weren’t for immigrants coming to this country over the past decade. In the year to June 2002, immigrants had a positive net fiscal impact of $1.7 billion on the national economy.

“Immigrants with the necessary skills, qualifications and accreditation have made a substantial economic impact on the Auckland region - home to 47% of New Zealand’s total migrant population. We welcome their contribution,” says Mr Banks.

The Mayoral Forum agreed that the Chief Executives Forum would investigate a framework for a regional settlement strategy and report back.


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