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PM’s Presser: Clark Plays Down Brain Drain

"I will never discourage young people from looking for opportunities overseas, because I believe most will come back," said Prime Minister Helen Clark today, in response to scare-mongering over the brain drain during the past week.

"I take the view that we are in a global labour market," she said at today's post Cabinet press conference. "Our immigration policy has to be flexible enough to take advantage of that labour market."

She said New Zealand's immigration policy is perhaps more geared to a time when everyone wanted to move to New Zealand.

Miss Clark said most of the people leaving New Zealand are unskilled.

She said New Zealand has had a net migration loss for some time, but figures from Statistics New Zealand show that slowing in the year to August.

Miss Clark said the talking down of New Zealand, of which the Business Roundtable backed Richard Poole Generation Lost newspaper advertisement was an example, was damaging to New Zealand.

"The Government's opponents need to think carefully about how far they take their talking down of the New Zealand economy," she said.

Miss Clark said there is a hard core in business who will not accept that a new government was elected last year, and that New Zealanders called for a new policy direction.

In response to criticism that Miss Clark has immediately gone on the offensive whenever anybody criticised her or her Government, the Prime Minister said the feedback she had got was that people were pleased somebody had finally stood up to Roger Kerr and the Business Roundtable.

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