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Time to face the facts: immigration

'We're losing more people overseas than we're gaining, those who come here with skills are not able to use them and in the end its New Zealand that misses out,' said Alliance spokesperson on immigration, Matt Robson.

Matt Robson and Alliance leader Jim Anderton launched the immigration policy today at a public meeting in Otahuhu, Auckland. Deputy Mayor of Auckland Bruce Hucker chaired the meeting.

'First we need accurate information and figures. Only then can we build a dynamic immigration policy for the next century. The Alliance is committed to that.'

To that end, the Alliance will set up a Bureau of Immigration and Population Research. This unit will co-ordinate and carry out extensive research into all facets of population demographics, including the needs and impacts of immigration and emigration.

'At the moment, the facts are buried behind knee-jerk reactions. For example, in the 20 year period between 1975 and 1998 there were 998,453 permanent arrivals and 1,140,509 long term departures. That's a net loss of 142,056 people, with peaks in migration lose coinciding with periods of high unemployment and low economic growth.

'We don't want our youngest and brightest students to leave because of crippling student debt. Neither do we want those people who settle here to bail ship because they can't use their skills here.

'New settlers in this country have always contributed to the economic, social, cultural and sporting development of their new country. We don't want to lose that vital input.

'Immigration matters have been stuck for too long in the Department of Labour. It's a hang-over from the days when governments just wanted to import cheap labour. Those days are long gone. The Alliance will shift immigration matters from the Department of Labour to the Department of Internal Affairs.

'Government's have made immigration policy on the run, and failed to face the facts. For example there has been a fall in skilled migration of 61% between 1995 and 1997.

'We have internationally qualified professionals granted entry into this country but denied professional registration. That makes no sense at all. We have overseas trained doctors for example, who we could well use, but who end up driving taxis and delivering pizzas.

'The Alliance has a bill before parliament which would enable doctors and specialists to work in this country.

'Active steps have to be taken to end waste of skills brought to New Zealand by migrants. Population and immigration policy and practices must be based on good research and data. That way we enter the next millennium with the chance to grow the talent in our country, rather than export it or lose it,' said Matt Robson.


ends

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