National’s abrupt backflip on their recently-announced changes to immigration shows they never understood the problem and just came up with a confused knee jerk response, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.
“Regional communities and businesses were quite right to be concerned at National’s changes to immigration that threatened the economic viability of New Zealand’s provincial heartland.
“National ignored the immigration debate for too long then came out with a half-baked response based around an overly-simple income threshold that satisfied nobody. Salary thresholds are a poor proxy for skill. Changing the threshold is not enough – the whole policy is flawed.
“It shows they’ve stopped managing immigration to match skills shortages, which is what we’ve always needed immigration for.
“The Government’s policy was a one-size-fits-all approach that failed to consider regional and industry variations, and their backflip shows that the wheels are falling off their economic plan.
“They know that the regions were listening to Labour’s fresh approach on immigration which recognised regional skills shortages.
“Our Regional Visas policy works with local businesses, councils and unions to identify skills a region needs and aims to ensure migrants end up working there, rather than using their visa as a backdoor to Auckland.
“We need to take a breather from the unfettered immigration that, under National, has seen 130,000 more people than official forecasts settle in New Zealand, and has compounded the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to congestion on roads.
“New Zealand is a country that’s built on immigration and Labour’s plan reflects the enormous value that migrants bring here.
“Our immigration policy gets the balance right: more skilled migrants to the regions to support key industries, while easing the pressure on our cities, particularly Auckland.
“The Government is tired, out of touch, and lacking any new ideas. It’s time for the fresh approach that only a Labour-led Government can deliver,” says Andrew Little.