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Better planning essential for immigration

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Long term planning and a stable framework are essential for good immigration practices, Labour Immigration spokesperson Lianne Dalziel said today.

Releasing Labour's Immigration, Settlement, and Ethnic Affairs Policy in Auckland today, Lianne Dalziel said the National Government's knee-jerk approach to immigration had to end.

"That approach has tarnished our international reputation and resulted in poor settlement outcomes," Lianne Dalziel said.

"They have acted like they have thrown darts at a dartboard to choose their immigration targets. Then they have panicked and introduced measures like the short-lived English language test which had a devastating effect. The number of business migrants coming to New Zealand plummeted by 90% in the wake of that policy change.

"A Labour Government will secure immigration within a stable framework where changes are well thought out and transparent. We can't keep moving the goalposts on intending migrants and we cannot change the rules in a manner which adversely affects those who have already settled here.

"On becoming government, Labour will commission comprehensive research to aid that long-term planning.

"In the short term, Labour does not intend to introduce any major changes to the current policy settings, but does see the need for a number of slight changes within some of the policy categories.

"For example, we will adjust under the skills and experience category to give greater emphasis to the recruitment of people to specific job vacancies. Under the business category, we will take a more proactive approach to seeking business migrants who have the potential to contribute to New Zealand's vision of becoming a knowledge based economy. We will review criteria in both the family and humanitarian categories to make them fairer. We will also give consideration to a Pacific Access category in recognition of the special relationship between Pacific Island nations and New Zealand."

Lianne Dalziel said she was particularly proud of the changes Labour planned to make to settlement policy (see Helen Clark statement) and of Labour's languages policy.

"Labour is the first party to have a languages policy which includes a commitment to inheritance languages and to the provision of English tuition for speakers of other languages."

Labour's comprehensive settlement policies would have particular relevance for refugee migrants.

"Labour has decided against increasing the number of refugees accepted into New Zealand until we are better able to cater for the settlement needs of the refugees we are already committed to. Access to decent housing, health, education, English language lessons, community orientation and skill development is vital to ensuring refugees can thrive in New Zealand," Lianne Dalziel said.

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