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Labour's Immigration Policy Consolidates Gains

Labour's Immigration Policy Consolidates Gains

27 August 2005

Immigration Minister Paul Swain today announced Labour's immigration policy, which builds on the gains made since the party came to office.

"Labour sees targeted immigration as playing an important role in the economy by meeting our skilled labour needs, especially given that we have the lowest unemployment in the developed world. However, New Zealand must also protect its borders, and Labour will continue to treat this as a top priority," said Mr Swain.

"Labour has achieved a huge amount since 1999. We have shifted the focus of skilled migration policy from a passive to an active approach, by introducing the Skilled Migrant Category which accounts for 60% of the Immigration Programme."

"With the New Zealand Settlement Strategy we've also made sure that those migrants who are selected, as well as the refugees who make their new home in New Zealand, are more likely to settle successfully" Mr Swain said.

"We have also committed an extra $30 million to strengthening border security. This has included the introduction of Advanced Passenger Processing to identify people who are not wanted in New Zealand before they board a flight. More than 700 people have been prevented from boarding flights to New Zealand, meaning our border effectively starts at the overseas check-in counter. We have also established the Immigration Profiling Group which is responsible for processing all applications from the highest risk countries, and reviewing all applications from those countries approved in the past 2 years. "

Key initiatives that Labour will progress in its third term are:

A comprehensive review of the Immigration Act to ensure New Zealand’s interests are protected and advanced, while also ensuring that we uphold our international obligations The regulation of immigration advisers to protect immigrants and potential immigrants The implementation of the "Expats Initiative" to help make it easier for Kiwis who are currently offshore to return home by giving them information on New Zealand and the opportunities for them here.

"Labour believes that immigration policy needs to recognise the need for skilled migrants, students and visitors, while protecting our borders and meeting our international obligations. New Zealanders deserve a careful and reasoned approach to these issues – not the slogans and scare mongering on offer from some other parties," Mr Swain said.

ENDS

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