The Government’s answer to immigrant pressure on Auckland is to offer incentives to go elsewhere in the country.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said yesterday the Government would introduce a package of immigration measures aimed at improving the spread of workers, skills & investment outside Auckland.
However, one line in his release sounded entirely discriminatory against new immigrants: “New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs and that won’t change.”
For the rest of it, Mr Woodhouse sounded gung-ho: “Thousands of people from all over the world are moving to New Zealand because it is a good place to live, work & raise a family. Those people make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth by providing skills, labour & capital we need, along with valuable cultural & business links.
“Currently, many new migrants settle in Auckland, which faces infrastructure challenges as it transforms into a truly international city. At the same time, business owners in other parts of New Zealand often struggle to find enough skilled workers to meet their demands.
“While there are already incentives to encourage migrants to move to areas outside of Auckland, we can do a better job of matching the needs of regions with available migrants & investors.”
New measures to take effect from 1 November include:
- boosting the bonus points for skilled migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside Auckland from 10 to 30 points
- doubling the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the entrepreneur work visa from 20 to 40 points, and
- streamlining the labour market test to provide employers with more certainty, earlier in the visa application process.
In addition, from mid-2016 a pathway to residence will be provided for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.
“Unemployment across the mainland is nearly half that of the North Island, and labour is in short supply. Most workers in lower-skilled jobs must apply to renew their work visas every year. Some of these people have worked hard and paid tax to New Zealand for many years. They are valued at work & in their community, but have no avenue to settle here permanently.
“We’re looking at offering residence to some migrants, who have applied at least 5 times for their annual work visa. In return, we will require them to commit to the South Island regions where they’ve put down roots.”
Mr Woodhouse said the Government was also considering a new global impact visa to attract high-impact entrepreneurs, investors & start-up teams to launch global ventures from New Zealand.
“I will announce further details later this year, but we envisage this visa would be offered to a limited number of younger, highly talented, successful & well connected entrepreneurs from places like Silicon Valley.”
Attribution: Ministerial release.