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Peters wants to drag New Zealand backwards

27 May 2005 Media Statement

Peters wants to drag New Zealand backwards

Immigration Minister Paul Swain says Winston Peters has once again gone off the deep end with his latest rantings about immigration.

"New Zealand needs skilled migrants, tourists and students to get ahead, but as usual Winston Peters wants to threaten all that for cheap political points in election year by dragging us all backwards with him. He ignores the fact that New Zealand is a nation built on migration.

"In contrast, the government's policies are a balance between attracting the migrants, tourists and students we need with the importance of protecting our borders from people we do not want.

"The Skilled Migrant Category targets migrants who can add to the economy at a time when we need more skilled people. Mr Peters' policies would guarantee that skills shortages would continue.

"At the same time we have invested more than $30 million over the last two years to strengthen the Immigration Service's fraud detection and investigation capabilities."

Mr Swain said Mr Peters had shown his lack of understanding of what the government had already done to strengthen New Zealand's borders and migration systems.

The government has also started a fundamental review of the 18-year-old Immigration Act to make it more relevant to New Zealand’s needs and the international environment, which had both changed since the Act was introduced in 1987.

The Immigration Service is now deciding applications from the highest-risk countries onshore. This is part of a longer-term goal of bringing most decision-making about visas and migrants onshore. A new category of "undesirability" has also been developed to allow staff to better judge the suitability of applicants. A special team has been set up to review all applications from the highest-risk countries for the last two years.

"In addition, legislation will be introduced into Parliament shortly that will regulate immigration agents to tidy up the industry," Mr Swain said.

ENDS

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