Prime Minister Bill English appears to be making a U-turn on the Government’s planned immigration changes
The PM of New Zealand Bill English is likely to tweak some of its planned immigration cuts after a backlash from business groups and the regions.
Prime Minister Bill English said this morning that the proposals would still “largely” go ahead, but “with some adjustments”.
The backtrack came after regional mayors, farming and hospitality groups told the Government that the proposed rule changes “were a bit tight”, he told TVNZ.
The changes announced in April included a $49,000 minimum income for a skilled migrant visa, a three-year limit for lower skilled workers followed by a stand-down period, and stricter rules for partners and children of workers.
English said 10,000 jobs were being created a month.
“We need people to build the houses, drive the trucks, make the whole thing work.”
But the proposed rule changes would not be scrapped altogether because the Government wanted to “strike the right balance”.
“We also want to make sure New Zealanders can get the jobs that they should be able to get,” he said.
English said there had been “very strong demand” for workers not only in Auckland but in the regions.
“We’ve had quite a bit of feedback that there’s work there, plenty of jobs, they’re doing their best to recruit Kiwis when they can, but there are still gaps and they need the skills and are a bit concerned that some of the rules might be a bit tight.”
Immigration is one of the main talking points in this year’s election campaign, as Labour and NZ First are both promising deep cuts to migrant numbers if in power.
The Green Party also proposed limiting immigration to population growth but is now reviewing that policy after a backlash from migrant groups.
The Government’s original proposals (to start August 14)
- Anyone who will earn less than about $49,000 a year once in New Zealand won’t get a skilled migrant category visa, and permanent residents won’t get points for such jobs.
- People who will earn more than $73,299 will automatically be classified as highly skilled.
- The SMC points table, under which individuals claim points towards their residence application, will also be realigned to give more recognition of skill levels in the 30-39 age group and high salary levels.
- Limiting lower skilled visa holders to a maximum of three years, after which a stand-down period will apply before another visa can be approved.
- Classifying the partners and children of these visa holders as visitors, meaning they will only gain work visas if they meet requirements in their own right.
- Ensuring the length of the visa in seasonal occupations aligns with peak labor demand, rather than for 12 months as is presently the case.