Government tightens red tape to slow immigration before election
By Richard Harman (author)
The Government’s immigration clampdown is looking like a bureaucratic nightmare.
It appears that Immigration NZ has already begun using redtape to make it difficult to hire immigrants before the changes to immigration regulations come into effect in August.
POLITIK has been given a letter from an Immigration Officer in one of its Auckland offices to a construction company seeking to employ a migrant as a carpentry worker.
The letter asks for 35 separate pieces of information about the job --- including the names of the company’s previous owners, a list of its competitors and asks that it supply an organisational chart.
Other questions ask the company’s date of establishment; whether the business was previously owned by another company and details of the CE including their “full commencement date in current position” any previous roles held in the company and respective commencement dates and current remuneration.
The complex set of questions appears to be a disincentive for the company to hire the migrant.
And it raises the question as to whether Immigration NZ has clamped down now because the Government’s new immigration restrictions don’t come into force until August 15 – which leaves almost no time for them to have any impact on immigration levels before the election.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, last night told POLITIK that any decision by Immigration NZ to toughen up its criteria for approving migrants was an operational matter for Immigration New Zealand and not at the behest of the Minister.
But across the country there is a growing tension between employers and the Government over both the existing tightening of administrative restrictions and the August change in immigration regulations which will see jobs paying under $49,000 regarded as unskilled and therefore difficult to fill with migrants.
That will particularly hit the South Island where many jobs in the dairy industry are filled by Philippinos but pay less than $49,000.
The letter comes at the same time as reports from the South Island that the clampdown is already leading to worker shortages there.
The CEO of the Canterbury Development Corporation, Tom Hooper, says that unemployment in Christchurch is only 4% compared with the rest of the country where it is 5.2%.
“Recent immigration changes are based on an assertion that “remuneration is an excellent proxy for skills”, with no one earning $49,000 or less being able to be classified as highly skilled, regardless of the work they do and the experience they have,” he says.
“ This impacts particularly in the agricultural sector, a critical component of Canterbury's and New Zealand's economic prosperity.
“Our local high-tech sector is being held back because of severe skills shortages.
“Local businesses can’t recruit enough people with the skills they need from within New Zealand; they need migrants to enable their businesses to develop and grow. “
Hooper’s concern is that the Government has framed its immigration policies in the light of the pressure that immigration is placing on Auckland.
That pressure was reinforced earlier last month when the Reserve Bank published its Monetary Policy Statement.
Migration flows were increasing demand for housing, it said.
“We're being sent the wrong message from the government, and creating a lost opportunity for our region, by having national solutions for Auckland's problems,” says Hooper.
“ We don't have Auckland's problems, and we definitely don't need Auckland specific solutions.”