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Labour streets ahead on immigration

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Labour's Immigration, Settlement and Ethnic Affairs policy will put a Labour Government streets ahead in ensuring that new migrants and New Zealand will benefit from immigration, Labour Leader Helen Clark said today.

Helen Clark said Labour had a comprehensive settlement policy which would illustrate significant differences between Labour and National on policies for migrants.

"National's interest in immigration seems to stop when its quotas are met and permanent residence is approved," Helen Clark said.

"Yet to migrate to another country is one of the biggest life-changing decisions a family can make. We have a responsibility for ensuring that new migrants who are accepted into New Zealand come to a climate which is supportive of them," Helen Clark said.

"For a start, would-be migrants need to be able to make informed decisions about whether or not to come to New Zealand. Some are painted far too rosy a picture. I have met many professionals who have had no idea how hard it would be to get work in their field and who may not have come had they had access to decent information.

"Under Labour, government agencies will be required to compile comprehensive and accurate information for intending migrants. We will also support the development of a register of immigration consultants to ensure universally high standards in the promotion of New Zealand as an immigration destination

"Once new migrants are in New Zealand they will have access to comprehensive information on New Zealand which will be available in major ethnic community languages. Labour will also work in partnership with local and regional government, and key community organisations to encourage a wider distribution of new migrants throughout New Zealand and business development services will be encouraged to be actively involved with new migrants who seek to set up businesses.

"Adults and children will have access to English language learning to help them get jobs, mix with other New Zealanders and access basic services.

"My vision for a multicultural society in New Zealand is one which is outward looking, tolerant, accepting, interesting and dynamic. We have not yet reached that state in New Zealand. Labour, in government, will have that as a clear aim with our immigration, settlement and ethnic affairs policy," Helen Clark said.

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