Choking back immigration would stall the economy, PM English says
By Paul McBeth
June 12 (BusinessDesk) – Turning off the flow of new migrants would stall the economy which faces a shortage of skills to meet the growing infrastructure demands of a larger population says Prime Minister Bill English, who expects to amend the government's policy before the September election.
The opposition Labour Party today unveiled its immigration policy, with leader Andrew Little saying it was “time for a breather” to ease some of the pressure on the nation's infrastructure and proposing restrictions on student and work visas to cut the number of new migrants by between 20,000 and 30,000 a year. New Zealand's net migration has been at record highs, propelled in part by the number of Kiwis staying home or returning from abroad.
Speaking at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference, English dismissed the opposition policy saying a 30,000 reduction in new migrants would “stall the economy” and "deprive business of the skills they need to make investments to grow New Zealand".
In April, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced plans to impose new restrictions on temporary work visas linking them to how much a person earns. Six months earlier, Woodhouse raised the bar on the skilled migrant visa.
English today said the government was making “adjustments at the margin” and was just about to start reviewing submissions on its proposed policy changes.
"We want to do it in a way that gets the right mix of skills for the jobs that are there," English said. "If you head around the country there's strong demand for people to do the jobs that are being created."
Labour's proposed changes wouldn't affect the refugee quota, Pacific quotas, working holiday schemes, or the recognised seasonal employer scheme, and would seek to better target skills shortages in the regions. It would also introduce a new KiwiBuild visa to help support its pledge to build 100,000 houses over the next decade and an exceptional skills visa to attract talent for high-tech industries.