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National misleads over migration statistics

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister of Immigration

15 September 2008 Media Statement

National misleads over migration statistics

Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove said it has been revealed that the National Party has tried to mislead the New Zealand public by using false figures in its immigration policy.

The latest TVNZ’s Agenda programme revealed that the figures used by the National Party about the number of New Zealanders leaving the country are out by more than 50 percent.

“National’s immigration spokesperson Dr Lockwood Smith claimed that New Zealand has “tragically lost” more than 80,000 kiwis permanently in the past 12 months, when in fact there was a net loss of only 35,300 New Zealand citizens in the year to July 2008,” Mr Cosgrove said. “In his calculations Dr Smith conveniently forgot to take account of the 23,100 kiwis who also returned home permanently in that same year.”

Mr Cosgrove said permanent and long-term (PLT) departures includes overseas visitors leaving New Zealand after a minimum stay of 12 months as well as New Zealanders departing for more than 12 months, which would include young people taking their traditional OE break.

Mr Cosgrove said Dr Smith’s scaremongering is irresponsible, especially given that the true picture of immigration for New Zealand is very positive. “Under the Labour-led government we have been experiencing year-on-year consistent positive net migration, with more people moving to New Zealand than departing. There was a net permanent and long-term migration gain of 5,201 people for the year ending July 2008, for example.”

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“The migrants we attract also tend to be more skilled than the people who are leaving New Zealand. In the year to June 2008, 67% of PLT arrivals were in skilled or highly skilled occupations, compared to 62% of departures.

“The movement of skilled migrants between countries is now a global norm, with Australia, for example, experiencing very similar trends. The departure of Australian-born people in 2006/07 was approximately 1.3% of their total population, compared to NZ’s loss of 1.7%.”

Mr Cosgrove said the fact that New Zealand has more skilled people moving here than leaving shows the government’s policies, such as the Skilled Migrant Policy - which are aimed at attracting the people we want and need - are working. “The government is also working hard to attract kiwis home after they have gained valuable skills and experiences overseas, with policies such as Welcome Home Loans, Working for Families, Kiwisaver, and interest-free student loans.”

Mr Cosgrove said National’s latest embarrassing gaff is not surprising given the series of illogical and vague proposals in its “chequebook” immigration policy.

This includes establishing a new Retirement Visa plan for wealthy retirement-age foreigners - a proposal that Dr Smith must have forgotten he rejected in 1999 when he was Associate Immigration Minister as being “too risky” – and a plan to charge employers a bond for every immigrant they hire, thus creating bureaucracy and a major financial burden on businesses.
The National Party also proposes setting up a new layer of bureaucracy under Immigration New Zealand to deal with returning kiwis, despite the fact that New Zealand citizens are not migrants and are therefore excluded from all requirements in the Immigration Act.


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