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Picking Winners Dumped for Placating Winston

Picking Winners Dumped for Placating Winston

The Government's knee-jerk reaction to immigration will damage one of its own "picking winners" policies, ACT IT spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"This Government has selected the Information and Communications Technology sector as requiring government interference. Just what New Zealand's highly skilled and motivated ICT companies have done to deserve Jim Anderton's clammy bearhug of crony-capitalism is a mystery. Nevertheless, the much-lauded Growth and Innovation Framework chose ICT as a "cluster" along with biotechnology and the creative industries.

"Now we have a delicious irony before us.

"The Government's own ICT taskforce has produced a draft report that identifies obstacles to growing wealth in the ICT sector. With a beautiful sense of timing, the ICT Taskforce recommends retaining the high proportion of foreign students among ICT graduates because of New Zealand's chronic shortage in this area.

"But the Government - in the dead of night and under United Future-supported urgency - has changed the rules. Now an immigrant must pass an English language test that even a senior journalist who passed School Certificate English with 70 per cent thought he would fail.

"To make matters worse, the Education Minister is planning to make changes that will cripple the ICT industry. In response to New Zealand First's rhetoric and a call from the country's two most powerful and richest unions - the PPTA and NZEI - Trevor Mallard has indicated he will cap the number of foreign, fee-paying students.

"Within months this Government has gone from aiming to double the size of the export education market to preparing to legislate away the one billion dollars of income we receive from foreign fee-paying students," Miss Coddington said.

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