Thursday, April 25, 2024

Nats’ proposal on migrants welcomed

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National’s proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages. National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers.
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National's proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages.

National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. 

These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers. 

National has also proposed a “de-coupling” of skilled migrant staff from specific employers, instead making them tied to a sector or a region.

Earlier this month the Government announced plans to allow Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers back into NZ for the coming harvest season without having to undergo MIQ isolation, given they were from covid-free countries of Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu.

However, plans for a broader migration policy are still in the pipeline, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicating earlier this week the stalled policy is next on the government’s to-do list. 

Workers here on temporary visas have had them extended, with those who were here seeking residency due for a decision in short order.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis welcomed National’s suggestion.

“There are still 1000 positions that need filling in dairying and a need for families to be re-united. In a lot of cases the Dad may be here working, but the family can’t get in. I know of a Fijian couple who are working here, but their three kids in Fiji can’t get in here.”

He cautioned NZ needed to move more quickly on arriving at a decision for migrants, with Australia and Canada competing vigorously for skilled staff and making conditions of entry far easier for workers’ families to also accompany them.

He also agreed with the de-coupling of worker-employer visas, enabling greater flexibility, particularly within regions.

“A lot of regions desperately need these staff. 

“But we also need to know what the bigger plan is for longer term policy, especially if we are going to continue to see record low unemployment.”

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