29 October 2008
NZ political parties addressing migration in the lead-up to elections
In the lead-up to the New Zealand government elections next Saturday, the parties have made public their migration policies, reports Stuff.co.nz.
New Zealand's immigration policy is crucial to the country's economic growth, as hundreds of local businesses rely on foreign labour and overseas skilled workers to fill gaps in the workforce; yet some say immigration needs to be cut back to protect the job opportunities of New Zealanders.
Winston Peters, NZ First party leader, says prospective migrants flock to the country to enjoy its lifestyle pleasures and take advantage of its excellent working environment, but that by allowing more people to move to New Zealand the government restricts the opportunities for those already living here.
The current government, the Labour Party, plans to keep its current immigration policy, which allows approximately 50,000 places for migration per year, and a Kiwi-first approach to jobs. Recently the Government made amendments to the Immigration Advisors Act, which requires migration advisors to be licensed before they can give advice to prospective migrants.
National's policy focuses on bringing overseas Kiwis home and creating New Zealand visa categories to attract more overseas workers to the country. They also want to make it easier for foreign nationals to invest in the country.
The NZ First party want to slash immigration numbers by 40,000 places and make all new arrivals undertake New Zealand culture courses. They also plan for five-year good behaviour probation periods for migrants.
The Greens also want to provide New Zealand culture courses for new arrivals, and increase the annual intake of refugees by 33 per cent.
The Maori Party's policy is yet to be confirmed; however, they are campaigning for compulsory training in New Zealand history and Treaty of Waitangi issues.
United Future and Progressives want to increase settlement programs, and ACT also wants a five-year good behaviour probationary period for migrants.
The elections will be held next week, 8 November 2008.
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.