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COVID-19: Don’t Be So Hasty To Get Rid Of Migrants, Winston Peters

Hearing Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters’, latest statement that migrants who haven’t got jobs should leave the country, suggests electioneering has been given preference over humanity and common-sense.

“What has become of caring for each other and kindness which the Prime Minister has been emphasising?” asks New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) chair, Ms June Ranson.

She says it seems fairness and natural justice no longer exists when it comes to the migrants who, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs and ended up hungry and sleeping on the street during the COVID-19 lockdown response.

“We appear to be becoming worse than the Middle East. These migrants need looking after, and while they have been referred to their own Embassies for support, this has been very limited.

“The NZ labour market environment has changed overnight as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While it is clearly understood that NZ residents and citizens must have the first right to job vacancies (and the Government is putting in place retraining programmes) there are many jobs that New Zealanders would not undertake.

“So, how tough is the Government going to be on New Zealanders taking on a job or relocating them to a new location, thus getting unemployment numbers down and avoiding unemployment benefit payments?

“We know we do not have all the skills that this country needs for its economic recovery, so we should not be too hasty in dismissing these migrants. We need to understand the holes in our workforce and establish if the migrant here can fill the role as they already have the skills and can train others. Rest Homes are a classic example of those migrants working in an industry where very few Kiwis are found.

“There is a massive piece of work needed to understand the projects and industries that need development and to identify do we have these skills amongst those NZ residents or citizens who have returned to NZ or who have now been found unemployed through the loss of their job.

“In getting the country back on its feet Government needs to take a long-term view and not get too focussed on the here and now. We know there will be migrant casualties, but if those migrants who now have no job are able to receive appropriate job offers due to their skills why get rid of them? We must get this right otherwise in 12-months’ time we will have shortages that cannot be filled, this would be history repeating itself.”

Ms Ranson suggests NZ needs to have a ‘think tank’ focussing on a 10-year plan for what the ideal population should be and for this to be revisited every 10 years.

“All political parties need to accept this otherwise there will be no consistency in thinking, and this will become a political football.”


The NZAMI is made up of lawyers and licensed immigration advisers who must uphold professional standards and comply with the Association’s strict Code of Ethics. This Code always requires them to uphold the integrity of the New Zealand immigration system and to respect the vulnerability of migrants. For more information please see: www.nzami.co.nz.

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