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NZ Can Learn From Australia’s Migration Policies


For release: 22 July 2005

New Zealand Can Learn From Australia’s Migration Policies

New Zealand has much to learn from Australia when it comes to devising immigration policies which work for both the migrant and the host country, according to Sydney-based lawyer, Mark Tarrant

Mr Tarrant, a graduate of Auckland University’s Law School practiced as an Immigration Solicitor in New Zealand for eight years before relocating across the Tasman in 2002.

Now head of the Immigration Section at Wright Stell Lawyers, he is to lead a seminar comparing and contrasting Australian and New Zealand immigration policy at next week’s Auckland conference of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI).

“Both New Zealand and Australia are suffering from acute skill shortages, ageing populations and declining birth-rates. They are also viewed as desirable migration destinations by many skilled people across the globe. A key question facing both countries is how best to benefit from the global market in skilled migration.

“Australia certainly has no monopoly of sensible policies and, in some instances, has successfully borrowed ideas from New Zealand, particularly as far as business migration is concerned. However, on balance, New Zealand has more to learn from Australia than vice versa when it comes to harnessing immigration to meeting the country’s economic goals,” he says.

“A key difference is that, in Australia, very few people actually need job offers to qualify for residence. Instead, the qualifications and work experience of skilled migrants are subjected to a rigorous and sophisticated skills assessment procedure, aimed at assessing whether they measure-up to Australian standards.

“This frees migrants from the ‘Catch 22’ familiar in New Zealand, of needing a job offer for residence but not being able to secure a job because of uncertainties over immigration status. It also means that employers don’t have to wait months for a suitable candidate to clear migration hurdles.

“Because of both the rigour of the skills assessment process and the buoyancy of Australia’s economy, most skilled migrants find it relatively easy to get suitable jobs once residence has been granted. At the same time, statistics suggest an economic benefit to Australia from integrating skilled people so smoothly into its labour force,” says Mr Tarrant.

Mark Tarrant also praises Australia’s “Skilled Independent Regional Visa” policy, which offers three year’s provisional residence for migrants willing to live outside major centres such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth.

“This month, the Australian government is awarding ten bonus points to everyone applying under the regional scheme. It has also recently raised the overall pass mark for skilled migrants seeking residence. The combined impact of these moves should provide a boost to smaller centres such as Adelaide, which have been shedding population in recent years.

“Of course, once migrants have achieved full residence, they are free to live anywhere they like in the country. However, by that stage, many will have put down roots in regional centres. They may well choose to stay there rather than pay Sydney or Melbourne property prices.

“Another sensible Australian approach is to recognise prior skilled work experience irrespective of the country in which it’s gained. This is in sharp contrast with New Zealand’s approach, which tends only to recognise work experience derived from a small number of highly developed countries.

“Australia can afford to recruit people from a broader range of backgrounds because of the robustness of its skills assessment procedures. Given the chronic skills shortages on both sides of the Tasman, it’s certainly no disadvantage to be able to choose from a wider pool,” he says.

Mr Tarrant points out that Australia also imposes less rigorous English language skills requirements than does New Zealand but that these are still rigorous enough to ensure that most new migrants are able to find their feet in their new homeland.

“On both sides of the Tasman, there are chronic shortages of people with hands-on skills, such as bricklayers, panel-beaters, carpenters and spray-painters. It makes no sense to demand, as a pre-condition for entry, that such valuable people speak English like university graduates,” he adds.

The NZAMI conference will take place at the Waipuna Conference Centre on Thursday 28th July and Friday 29th July. Mr Tarrant is due to lead his workshop comparing New Zealand and Australian immigration policy at 3.45 pm on Thursday 28th July.

Other scheduled speakers include Immigration Minister, the Hon. Paul Swain, Associate Immigration Minister, the Hon. Damien O’Connor, Ethnic Affairs Minister, the Hon. Chris Carter and the Minister of Economic Development, the Hon. Jim Anderton.

The NZAMI represents approximately 200 members throughout New Zealand, including immigration and investment consultants, lawyers, banks, business specialists and financial advisers. It seeks consistent, fair, reliable immigration policies of long-term benefit to New Zealand.

“We are looking forward to discussing the differences between New Zealand and Australian immigration policies, not least because our two countries are competitors in the global market for skilled migrants,” says the NZAMI’s Chief Spokesperson, Bill Milnes.

“New Zealanders should be concerned by the latest Labour Market Reports, issued last week by the Department of Labour. These show employers finding it harder than ever to recruit suitably-skilled staff and also raise the possibility or New Zealand’s net outflow of migrants exceeding inflow in the second half of this year.

“It’s also increasingly apparent that, far from taking jobs away from New Zealanders, immigration can help create new employment opportunities by boosting the economy. Conversely, a recent IMF report suggested that unemployment could rise by up to 0.5 percent over the next few years if the current immigration slow-down continues,” he says.
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Programme for NZAMI Conference (Waipuna Conference Centre – July 28/29)

Day 1 — Thursday 28 July 2005

8.30 am – 9.00 am Registration

9.00 am – 9.10 am Chairman’s Welcome – David Cooper of Malcolm Pacific

9.15 am – 9.30 am Official Opening by the Honourable Chris Carter, Minister of Ethnic Affairs

9.30 am – 9.45 am ASB Bank Migrant Banking

9.50 am – 10.30 am Workshop—Taxation and Asset Protection for Migrants
Sponsored by Hesketh Henry

10.30 am – 11.00 am Workshop—BizAngels – Linking Investors and Entrepreneurs
Sponsored by Enterprising Manukau

11.00 am – 11.20 am Morning tea

11.30 am – 12.10 pm Workshop—The Office of the Ombudsman
Presented by Yu Lina George and John Pohl

12.15 pm – 12.45 pm Workshop – Immigration Law and Practice – the course
Sponsored by Massey University

12.45 pm – 1.45 pm Lunch

1.45 pm – 3.00 pm Workshop—NZIS BMB Update and SMC, Health and WP Update
Presented by Michael Carley (Branch Manager BMB) and Carl Andrews

3.15 pm – 3.45 pm Afternoon tea

3.45 pm – 4.15 pm Workshop— NZ and Australian Immigration Policies Compared
Presented by Mark Tarrant, Solicitor, WrightStell Lawyers

4.15 pm – 5.00 pm Workshop – Immigration Industry Regulation – NZ and Australia
Presented by Bill Milnes, Access Immigration (NZ) and Laurette Chao, Gibsons Lawyers (Aus)

Cocktails — Thursday 28 July 2005
5.00 pm – 6.00 pm

Dinner — Thursday 28 July 2005
7.00 pm – 11,00 pm for NZAMI members and their partners
After Dinner Speaker—the Honourable Damien O’Connor, Associate Minister of Immigration

Day 2 — Friday 29 July 2005

8.30 am – 9.00 am Registration for Day 2

9.00 am – 9.15 am Chairman’s Welcome / housekeeping

9.15 am – 9.45 am Yong Lee of Kiwi Discovery
Success at Business Migration

9.45 am – 10.15 am Morning tea

10.15 am - 11.00 am The Honourable Paul Swain, Minister of Immigration
Immigration Now and Into the Future

11.15 am – 12.30 pm Mary Anne Thompson, Deputy Secretary Workforce (DOL)
The Workings of the Department of Labour’s Workforce incorporating the NZIS

12.30 pm – 1.45 pm Lunch

2.00 pm – 2.30pm The Honourable Jim Anderton, Minister of Economic Development
The Key Role of Immigration in the NZ Economy

2.30 pm – 2.45pm ASB Bank – Migrant Banking

2.45 pm – 2.55pm Official Closing

3.00 pm – 5.00 pm Annual General Meeting

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