19 November 2008

Dr Coleman sworn in as NZ Immigration Minister

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Dr Jonathan Coleman was today sworn in as the New Zealand Minister for Broadcasting and Immigration, and the Associate Minister for Tourism and Health, reports the National Business Review.

This month the citizens of New Zealand voted the National Party into government.  Jonathan "Smokey" Coleman will now be responsible for developing government policy on New Zealand immigration, and will play a major role in maintaining New Zealand's competitiveness in the global tourism market.

National's Immigration spokesperson Lockwood Smith said his party would work to counteract the brain drain by encouraging Kiwis home and increasing the number of skilled migrants who wish to move to New Zealand.

"New Zealand has tragically lost more than 80,000 people overseas permanently in the past 12 months.  That is more than 1,500 people each week.  The numbers departing have been steadily worsening.  Departing Kiwis are replaced by new immigrants, which makes immigration policy critically important to New Zealand's future," Mr Lockwood said in a statement.

The new government's policy will focus on creating opportunities in New Zealand so that overseas Kiwis will return home with their developed skills, and prospective skilled migrants will look to New Zealand and have confidence in the country's world-class immigration services and job opportunities.

"National wants to assure potential immigrants, along with all New Zealanders and Kiwi employers, that they will be given an efficient, world-class immigration service that acts with integrity and produces the best outcomes for the widest interests of New Zealand. "

"In addition, we will implement the most attractive policies to maximise the number of Kiwis worldwide who want to, again, make New Zealand their home." 

National plans to reduce the bureaucratic barriers to being able to hire seasonal workers from countries outside the existing Recognised Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme, if countries part of the scheme are not meeting the needs of the New Zealand economy.  The RSE allows temporary workers to work in New Zealand in the horticultural industry.

The Party wants to introduce two new types of visa.  The Silver Fern Visa would enable people with recognised tertiary qualifications to be in New Zealand for a short period to seek permanent employment in highly skilled areas that are of high value to the New Zealand economy.  Silver Fern Visa holders may undertake temporary work while seeking highly paid permanent employment.  The Retirement Visa would allow high net-worth people from overseas locations to live in New Zealand at no cost to the taxpayer.

In related news, the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) said in a press release on Monday they would be forming a close relationship with the new Tourism Minister (PM John Key) and Dr Coleman, Associate Minister for Tourism and Health.

Tourism contributes $50 million every day to the New Zealand economy, and all efforts to retain the current flow of tourists visiting New Zealand would play a major role in buffering the global crisis.

"In the current economic climate, we believe there is a real need for increased government investment to market New Zealand internationally in a much more aggressive manner.  This is crucial to ensure travellers are aware of New Zealand and what we have to offer, in traditional markets like Australia, the UK and USA, as well as in newer markets like China, India and the Middle East," Tim Cossar, chief executive of TIA, said on Monday.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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