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Consistentcy Urged On New Immigration Minister

Consistentcy Urged On New Immigration Minister

Migration consultants have called for a stable, consistent and fair approach from the new Immigration Minister, Paul Swain.

"We congratulate Mr Swain on his new portfolio and look forward to working with him to ensure that immigration policy truly meets our country's needs," says Bill Milnes, Chairman of the New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment (NZAMI).

"Immigration is one of the chief motors of our economy and requires a stable and consistent approach, so that appropriately qualified candidates will be attracted to settle here. Stability and consistency are also essential if business is to make informed investment decisions and if sound social policies are to be formulated.

"Former Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel was notable for providing a stable policy environment during the earlier part of her time in office. However, apparently as a result of perceived electoral pressures, the last eighteen months have seen a return to short focus, reactive policy change. We hope that the new minister will reverse this trend and place renewed emphasis on long term, stable policies which are good for our economy," he adds.

The NZAMI represents more than 170 members, including immigration and investment consultants, banks, business specialists and financial advisers. In May 2003, the Association won a High Court action against retrospective application of tough new rules for skilled migrants, announced the previous November.

"Little more than two months later, in July 2003, in clear response to the court's verdict, the government announced a wholesale revamp of the rules covering skilled migrants. Amongst the changes was the introduction of a complex, new two stage application system.

"This new approach is inherently more restrictive than its predecessor. Moreover, it too has been applied retrospectively to tens of thousands of would-be New Zealanders who had applied in good faith under the old rules. Many of these people had already started the difficult and expensive process of relocation here only to find themselves suddenly in an administrative limbo, with little hope of qualifying for residence," says Mr Milnes.

"No immigration policy will pass the consistency test if it fails to deliver broadly foreseeable outcomes for applicants. Our frequent, electorally -inspired policy changes and their retrospective application have sent a warning signal to many of the most valuable potential migrants, including potential business operators, not to waste time or money on the uncertain prospect of gaining residence here. This cannot be good for our economy or for our reputation as an essentially fair country which stands by its word.

"We look forward to meeting Mr Swain in the near future and to discussing with him how to ensure that immigration policy stays consistent and foreseeable and works to the advantage of all New Zealanders. Our membership's extensive knowledge of the field of immigration should enable us to make a useful input," he says.

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