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National offers chequebook immigration policy

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister of Immigration

4 September Media Statement

National offers chequebook immigration policy

National has released a vague and illogical immigration policy that shows just how out of touch nine years on the opposition benches has left them, Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove said today.

Mr Cosgrove said it is alarming that National is offering “chequebook immigration” which would allow people with enough money to buy residency in New Zealand without the current checks and balances which ensure people have a minimum level of English and will genuinely contribute to the New Zealand economy.

“National has been here before with disastrous results. Just ask any doctor that came here and ended up driving a taxi during the 1990s. Language requirements ensure that migrants are able to contribute to New Zealand, which is essential at this time of skill shortages.

“This policy is all over the place. Rather than doing a Maurice Williamson and announcing something unpopular only to have your leader dismiss it as “not our policy”, Lockwood Smith has saved time by putting a series of flip-flops within the one policy document,” Mr Cosgrove said.

“National claims it will make it easier for employers to recruit migrant workers, yet it would create a whole new layer of bureaucracy and a cost barrier to employers by demanding that they pay a bond when recruiting overseas. National also accuses this government of having a “government knows best” approach, but then suggests a National government would get directly involved in employee performance issues.”

Mr Cosgrove said a key platform of National’s policy is to better match the skills of immigrants with the employment needs of our economy. “That is exactly what this Labour-led government has already been doing through, for example, our Skilled Migrants policy and Essential Skills policy. We know that these policies are working because a recent 2008 OECD study rated New Zealand as best among OECD countries in matching immigrants with available jobs.”

Mr Cosgrove said National’s bizarre plan for Immigration New Zealand to create a one-stop shop for servicing the needs of returning New Zealanders embarrassingly shows that the National Party does not understand that New Zealand citizens returning home are not immigrants and therefore not dealt with by immigration services.

“This government provides many incentives for kiwis to return home, such as Working for Families, Kiwisaver, interest-free student loans and tax-cut packages. The role of the Immigration Service is to help us target the migrants that we want and need to grow our economy and to ensure that those migrants settle here and contribute to our society.

“Another strange suggestion is to resurrect the Retirement Visa policy that Lockwood Smith himself, as Associate Minister of Immigration in 1999, rejected as unworkable.”

“New Zealand is already on track to building a world-class immigration service – that is what the Immigration Change Programme and Immigration Bill, that the National Party supports, are all about. The only sensible suggestions in National’s policy are those things that this government is already doing.


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