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Nats immigration policy bad for business

5 September 2008

Nats immigration policy bad for business

The National Party’s immigration policy would increase the burden on New Zealand employers, expand bureaucracy and remove protections for kiwi workers, said the Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove today.

“The entire policy is a contradiction to what National claims to stand for because one of the biggest losers out of these proposals would be kiwi businesses,” Mr Cosgrove said.

“One of National’s policy promises is to require employers recruiting overseas to provide a bond for every immigrant they employ. As Small Business Minister I find that suggestion preposterous.

“If the intention is to mitigate the risk of an employer bringing the wrong person in who is not suited to the job and therefore ends up needing to be removed or staying here at a cost to New Zealand taxpayers, the bond per employee is going to need to be well into the thousands. How is a business supposed to absorb a huge cost like that?

“National says the bond would be refunded when the worker either leaves New Zealand within the terms of their visa, or gains residence. But given that temporary workers may stay on for many years before taking either of those steps, losing that extra cashflow for so long would have a massive impact on a business,” Mr Cosgrove said.

Mr Cosgrove said that other aspects of National’s policy would increase both the likelihood of the wrong kind of foreign workers moving here and the risk of worker exploitation.

“National talks about ‘streamlining’ procedures for employers to recruit from overseas. This can only mean reducing the checks that Immigration New Zealand currently undertakes to ensure that migrant workers are of good health, character and appropriately qualified for the job; that employers are fit to recruit and will not exploit their workers; and most importantly that there are no kiwis available to do the job first.

“So National would take the responsibility away from the government and put the burden instead on employers to do those checks, and then sting employers again by keeping their bond if things go wrong.

“This government, on the other hand, believes it has a responsibility to assist employers in secure the workers they need, but also doing appropriate checks to protect New Zealanders,” Mr Cosgrove said. “This bond proposal, along with National’s plan to create a new government department for immigration and citizenship, would create huge cost, bureaucracy and red tape for the business community and the taxpayer in general.

Mr Cosgrove said that National’s leader John Key must be kicking himself for breaking his own rule and letting a party member speak, given Dr Smith’s very odd immigration plans.

“As Dr Smith told Morning Report today, he also wants the Immigration Service to set up a ‘one-stop-shop’ for returning New Zealanders (who are not migrants) to assist in ways such as “helping people get their personal belongings back…you know, getting drivers licenses sorted out”. Dr Smith should give kiwis more credit as people don’t need this unnecessary layer of costly bureaucracy to work those things out.”

ENDS

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