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Pacific working to strengthen border security

Hon David Cunliffe Minister of Immigration

Statement and speech

Pacific countries working to strengthen border security An initiative to further strengthen New Zealand's border security is happening in Wellington this week, says Immigration Minister David Cunliffe. New Zealand is hosting the tenth annual Pacific Immigration Directors' Conference (PIDC), attended by senior immigration officials from 23 countries including New Zealand and Australia.

"The aim of the conference is to manage migration flows and strengthen border management in the Pacific, to improve the region's social and economic well-being and security, Mr Cunliffe said.

"With today's trend of increasingly complex temporary migration around the globe, the border security of our Pacific neighbours has flow-on effects for New Zealand. "So while we continue to facilitate the entry of the migrants our country needs, New Zealand must also sharpen its focus on the safety and security of the Pacific."

The conference, at Te Papa from 17 to 19 October, allows opportunities for regional bodies such as the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) and Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, and government agencies, to share information and plan initiatives to strengthen border security in the Pacific.

"Examples of work underway are reviews of member countries' border security laws to see if they meet international best practice.

"Another important function of PIDC is information-sharing between member countries - through meetings and workshops, building contacts, sharing information, and training and capacity building activities."

One way in which this takes place is through a regular immigration intelligence bulletin contributed to by member countries, co-ordinated and distributed by the PIDC Secretariat.

"I would like to welcome participants to the Conference and recognise the information-sharing and relationship-building benefits of this forum for New Zealand," Mr Cunliffe said.

For the minister, contact David Mcloughlin 04 471 9067 or 021 227 9067 To contact the chair of PIDC, Api Fiso, call Charlotte Bull of the Department of Labour, 04 915 4716 or 027 446 3538

Speech:

New opportunities: Immigration and the Pacific

Address to the Pacific Immigration Director's Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 9am 17 October 2006

Tena koutou katoa, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Bula Vanaka, Kia Orana, Bonjour, warm greetings.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

There is a well-known Maori saying: He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.

I open with that reminder today because immigration is first and foremost about people.

It's about the people that New Zealand wants to attract for their skills, the people that want to come to New Zealand for a better life and the people that will ultimately enrich our country with their vibrant culture.

It wasn't so long ago that we lost sight of that point. We treated potential migrants as economic units. We forgot that immigration should have win/win outcomes for everyone. And in the process migrants and New Zealanders alike did not get the best that they could from our immigration system.

So, I'm pleased to announce today that this outdated model is a thing of the past.

We have embarked on a journey towards implementing an immigration model that is responsive, proactive, skills-focussed and people-centred.

We have begun a process that will ensure that New Zealand does indeed reap the benefits of immigration and that the risks are well managed.

The Department of Labour's Immigration Service is no longer an agency that passively processes applications from whoever applies.

It is a proactive department that increasingly targets the people with the skills that New Zealand needs – resourcing New Zealand with the best talent that the world has to offer.

This model is consistent with other similar countries and is in line with the rapid global changes that we are facing.

So with this background, I would like to cover three main areas this morning:

· Firstly, the historical links and contribution that Pasifika migrants have made to NZ; · Secondly, I'd like to briefly touch on our immigration change programme and; · Finally talk about the new opportunities for partnership with Pacific nations.

Historical Ties

New Zealand enjoys a close and unique relationship with other countries in the Pacific. This relationship is based not just on the fact that we are neighbors – but also on our constitutional and historical ties.

Pacific peoples have lived in New Zealand for over 100 years and continued growth of the pacific population in New Zealand is expected.

Nationals of three Pacific countries: the Cook Islands; Niue; and Tokelau are all New Zealand citizens and are therefore able to freely move between New Zealand and their home countries. We have a unique Treaty of Friendship with Samoa.

There are three special arrangements that New Zealand has to facilitate the permanent entry of Pacific nationals. Currently, these are the Samoan Quota, the Pacific Access Category and the Pitcairn Island Special Policy.

The Samoan Quota: Based on the special Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa, New Zealand allows up to 1,100 citizens of Samoa (including spouses/partners and dependent children) to be granted residence in New Zealand each year

The Pacific Access Category replaced work schemes with Tuvalu and Kiribati in 2002. The PAC allows up to 250 Fijian, 250 Tongan, 75 Kiribati and 75 Tuvalu citizens to gain residence in New Zealand each year.

The Pitcairn Island Special Policy allows Pitcairn Islanders to be considered for residence, in recognition that there are few employment opportunities on Pitcairn Island.

All of these arrangements are subject to a guarantee of employment, age, and standard health and character requirements. In addition, principal applicants under the Samoan Quota and the Pacific Access Category must meet a minimum level of English language ability.

Pacific nationals from all states can also apply under other residence categories for example, family or skilled migrant categories. You may be interested to know that between 1 July 2004 and June 2006, a total of 12847 applications for residence from Pacific nationals were approved. The top three countries were Fiji (5214); Samoa (4460) and Tonga (2453).

In addition, Pacific nationals from all states qualify for temporary work permits provided they meet standard conditions including appropriate job offers.

New Zealand also values the contribution that Pacific Island cultures have made in building New Zealand's national identity.

A number of leading business people in New Zealand are of pacific origin.

Hip-hop music is not only an icon of the young but also a multi-million dollar business in which Pacific people are very successful – Che Fu and Nesian Mystik being just two examples.

Pacific culture is widely celebrated in this country. This year in Auckland, around 200,000 people attended the Pasifika Festival. It was a fantastic day and is an amazing statement about the prominence and acceptance of Pacific culture in New Zealand.

In short, over the last 20 years, things have changed for Pacific people living in New Zealand. Pasifika New Zealanders are well-established members of our community – growing in numbers and going from strength to strength.

Immigration Change Programme

I would like to now like to very briefly outline our Immigration Change Programme.

The issues that we are addressing through our change programme are very pertinent to Pacific Island nations.

The purpose of the Immigration Change Programme is to ensure that, now and in the future:

· New Zealand has the skills, talent and labour it needs for economic transformation. · New Zealanders are confident of the security of our border. · Migrants and refugees settle well, and integrate into communities.

We are undertaking the biggest overhaul of immigration legislation in 20 years

There are four drivers of change that have precipitated this programme.

1. Circulation

The first is circulation. There are now greater people flows around the world. In general, people are more transient now than they were 20 years ago.

The number of people living outside their country of origin is growing worldwide. In 1985 it was 84 million; in 2000 it was 175 million; in 2050 we forecast that it will be around 230 million

People's movement patterns are also more complex and dynamic. Rather than "moving for life" people may expect to have substantial periods in a number of countries over the course of their careers.

Many also return home after "migrating" for an extensive period.

New Zealanders are also on the move: 16% of people born in New Zealand live in another OECD country.

Settlement patterns have changed also; thus temporary and semi-permanent migration has increased 2. Competition for skills, labour and talent

The second key driver of change is the global competition for skills, labour and talent.

As labour mobility increases, countries will increasingly compete for migrants.

We are living in an increasingly globalised integrated world; labour markets exist across national boundaries. New Zealand and Australia share a labour market for example, as does the EU.

Internationally, populations are aging and there are lower birth rates. According to data from the United Nations; by 2050, 1 in every 3 persons living in the more developed regions of the world is likely to be 60 or older. We need to start planning for these changes now.

Migrants based their country of choice on a range of factors.

Our research shows that migrants want good job opportunities, top salaries, business opportunities, a work-life balance, recreational activities, good health and education services, civil and political freedom and of course low crime rates.

These are all factors that put New Zealand in very good stead, in the competition for the best global talent. 3. Diversity

New Zealand is becoming more culturally diverse – a fact that we celebrate and embrace. One in five Kiwis were born overseas.

New Zealand has a relatively proud record on multi-ethnic relations to date. But in times of international instability, this cannot be taken for granted. Recent riots in France and Australia reinforce the need for successful settlement and integration

We must identify what this diversity means for our communities and respond by ensuring the best settlement outcomes for migrants.

4. Heightened risk and pressure on the border

Unfortunately, a sign of our times is the heightened threat of international terrorism, illegal migration and trans-national organised crime.

Increased connectedness means more opportunities for diseases to enter New Zealand, which may affect people and animals.

Security measures across countries need to be complementary.

That is why this conference today is so important. We need effective dialogue with nearby countries to ensure that our border security is as effective and robust as it can be.

Deputy Secretary, Mary Anne Thompson will explain the practical steps we are taking to achieve this goal with pacific nations.

The change programme is based on three core elements or "pillars:"

· The legislative base – this includes a vigorous review of the Immigration Act as well as the Immigration Advisors Licensing Bill – and I note the Association's support for this bill and the excellent set of ethics that you already have in place for your members. · The substantive policy mix – that is - developing an Immigration Policy Framework that is flexible and responsive to meet our future needs · And of course, the operational side – this involves the development and implementation of a new business model with associated service enhancements.

Pacific Partnership

Pacific nations face many challenges of poverty, hardship, geographical isolation and limited economic and employment opportunities.

These challenges are real, they are substantial, they are complex and can only be solved through meaningful strategies and communication.

The New Zealand government believes that Pacific partnership is one of the keys to developing effective strategies for Pacific Island countries.

There are a number of ways that the New Zealand government is partnering with the Pacific and demonstrating our commitment to improving Pacific development.

Firstly, New Zealand participates in the Pacific Leaders Forum, where the Pacific Plan was designed. The Pacific Plan is a means to fully realize the Leaders' Vision for the whole Pacific region into the future. It proposes concrete plans for the key goals of the forum:

· Economic growth · Sustainable development · Good governance · Security

In our view the Pacific Plan is a key means to a better future – where Pacific nations get better returns from their natural resources (including fisheries), enjoy the benefits of more effective regional organisations and work towards "joined up approaches to the technical assistance, trade and the environment. The Prime Minister will again be attending this year's forum in Fiji next week and I look forward to hearing about further developments in these areas.

Pacific labour mobility is another important issue.

The New Zealand Government has heard the message from a number of Pacific Island Governments that they see improved access to temporary and seasonal work opportunities in Australia and New Zealand as important for their economic development.

As I've already outlined, New Zealand already provides work opportunities for many Pacific peoples without the need for specific or new policies. Remittances to New Zealand are already a significant input to many Island economies.

So we are not starting from scratch.

It is an area that New Zealand is willing to look at. However, we need to consider a range of issues, such as:

· The needs of participating New Zealand industry sectors and employers; · The Pacific Island nations gain positive development benefits; · The welfare of Pacific workers is adequately protected; · Wages and conditions are industry standard; and · The scheme is sustainable and proof from problems of overstaying and exploitation, this enabling willing seasonal workers to return in future years.

This government understands that Pacific nations require work opportunities, options to develop their skill base, high quality settlement outcomes and the chance to build local economic capacity as well as support for their immigration and border security.

These are not unreasonable aspirations and I believe not unachievable ones. New Zealand is committed to partnering with Pacific Island nations achieve these aspirations.

Conclusion

Leaders believe the Pacific region can, should and will be a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all of its people can lead free and worthwhile lives.

We treasure the diversity of the Pacific and seek a future in which its cultures, traditions and religious beliefs are valued, honoured and developed.

We seek a Pacific region that is respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values, and for its defence and promotion of human rights.

We seek partnerships with our neighbours and beyond to develop our knowledge, to improve our communications and to ensure a sustainable economic existence for all.

After all, New Zealand is a pacific nation. Pacific prosperity is beneficial for all of us.

This vision remains a powerful aspiration for us today and into the future.

But governments cannot pursue that vision alone.

This is a vision that must be adopted and carried out at all levels of society if we are to be successful.

So lets develop the necessary partnership and links to achieve this vision. Let's continue to build our ties with the pacific, lets continue to listen to each other and be open to ideas of mutual benefit and let us continue to value our unique relationship.

ENDS

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