Backtrack on immigration skills clampdown

In April the Government announced tougher requirements for lower skilled immigrants, but after complaints by provincial employers they are backtracking.

Stuff in April:  What do the Government’s immigration changes mean?

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has announced a number of changes to New Zealand’s immigration system, aimed at tackling both the number and quality of immigrants coming here for work.

What has the Government actually done?

They’ve made a number of changes to the rules for people applying for a skilled migrant visa – a points-based system for people who want to work and live here indefinitely.

If an applicant would earn less than the median New Zealand income of $48,859, they won’t get any points – even if their job was previously considered as skilled.

What about people here on temporary visas?

The same income thresholds will apply. Someone eligible for a temporary “essential skills” work visa who earns less than the median income can still work here, but only for a maximum of three years before a “stand down period” and a new application.

In addition, seasonal workers will have their visas limited to the length of their work, rather than 12 months as is currently the case.

Stuff today:  Government backdown on immigration changes

A proposed immigration crackdown will be watered down after a backlash from provincial bosses, Prime Minister Bill English has confirmed.

English told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme the changes would not be scrapped but there would “probably be some adjustments.”

The Government announced in April there would be an overhaul of the skills requirements for work visas as immigration heated up as an election year issue.

But the rule changes have been criticised as overly punitive and locking out a large number of skilled or necessary workers, particularly in regions where employers say they are struggling with a labour shortage.

South Island mayors are among those who put pressure on the Government to do a U-turn.

English said the Government would not be scrapping its plans entirely as it was important to get the right balance of skills in the economy.

But there were 10,000 jobs created each month and migrant workers were needed bo “build the houses, drive the trucks, make the whole thing work”.

​English acknowledged there had been a lot of pushback and said employers told the Government there was plenty of work, and strong demand for people to do the work.

“[They’re] doing their best to recruit Kiwis where they can but there are still gaps and they need the skills and are a bit concerned some of the rules might be a bit tight.”.

The April changes seemed to be in reaction to political pressure in election year.

This backtrack is a reaction to reality.


  1. What?

    Winston Peters is supporting farmers calling for the Government to back down on new immigration rules.

    The New Zealand First leader says farm worker migrants aren’t the problem.
    “Our biggest crisis, of course, in mass immigration is not out in the countryside – it’s smack in… Auckland,” he told Newshub.

    Mr Peters says farmers should employ locals, but many can’t afford it. He says it’s the Government’s fault for creating an economy that means farmers can’t afford to hire New Zealand labour.

    New Zealand First has promised to “drastically reduce net immigration” to 10,000.

    “This is a common sense number that would still allow New Zealand’s genuine skills shortages to be met,” the party said in a statement last week.

    Peters seems to be all over the place here. He is trying to appeal to those who are anti-immigration but appease one of his main targets for votes, the provinces.

    • Gezza

       /  July 24, 2017

      Winnie’s just grabbing another song out of the grab bag of song sheets when he sees the tomatoes & bottles being thrown by some of the audience at the act currently on stage who were singing a favourite song he usually does.

  2. Ray

     /  July 24, 2017

    After Winston won Northland he thought he had the Provinces in his hand.
    This may well be but Northland is not like the rest of NZ, I guess the election will show if his stance pays off.
    I do note that when his bus arrived in Oamaru he only attracted a crowd of 12!
    Andrew Little in town that night filled a hall (a small one).

  3. sorethumb

     /  July 24, 2017

    Nine: Filling labour shortages
    Several claims are made that immigrants are just filling jobs where there are shortages of New Zealand workers, particularly it is implied, ‘highly skilled’ workers. While there may be specialist vacancies that cannot be readily filled from the Australasian market, or sectors (universities and research institutes) where it may be desirable to access a world market, for the most part there is no shortage of skilled workers, if by that we mean someone with a university qualification or similar. New Zealand is producing plenty of university graduates.
    Some employers may not be able to get an employee at the salary they might wish to pay, but that is not a sign of a shortage, it just means that the market will clear at a higher wage rate.
    It is also argued that immigrants are doing jobs that New Zealanders will not do. Farm work and aged care are examples. Native New Zealanders have and will do those jobs, but higher wages are needed to attract the right workers.

    The rural sector is discussed as an example of why immigrants are needed throughout New Zealand.
    “2.272 The critical challenge facing New Zealand’s agricultural sector – which is mainly dairy farming, followed by beef and sheep farming and horticulture – is the lack of succession as the current generation of farmers retires. For every 10 people leaving the agricultural sector, there are around three to five people entering the industry. The 2015 Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey found that 20.6 per cent of dairy farmers had found it difficult to find skilled and motivated staff over the preceding six months. This is exacerbated by 
New Zealand’s ageing population and the trend of internal migration away from the regions to urban centres, in particular Auckland. Research also suggests that young New Zealanders do not find farming to be an attractive career prospect, due to the long hours and labourintensive nature of farming.”
    There was never any shortage of ‘suitably qualified’ New Zealand dairy workers, (the migrant workers generally had no experience in dairy farming) there was just a shortage of workers prepared to work long hours for low incomes.
    If the market had been left to work and there were no migrant workers, employee incomes in the sector would have been higher (as farmers competed for good workers), production processes would have been a little less labour intensive, and the sector would have been a little smaller as some conversions, that would not have been profitable at the higher wage rates, would not have proceeded. The latter effect would have been small because dairy farming is capital intensive and even a substantial increase in wages would not have been a make or break for nearly all dairy farm conversions.
    It is also reported “Farm owners report that they want migrant workers to stay on and to buy into their farms, but this is difficult because they are not permanent residents.”
    This doesn’t make sense. There is no way a farm worker will ever be able to buy the factory farm where they are employed. When the farm is sold, it will be sold to the highest bidder.
    The Superdiversity myth
    A review of the economic arguments
    for the ‘superdiversity dividend’
    Ian Harrison
    Mai Chen’s Superdiversity Stocktake is supported by the Bank of New Zealand (she sits on the board), The Department of Education, ect.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 24, 2017

    Winston is a class comedy act. That said, thank goodness the Government is seeing sense on immigration and backing off pandering to his xenophobes.

    • Gezza

       /  July 24, 2017

      The Maori party hit the nail on the head with how immigration & work visa policy should be tailored to fit the needs of the regions.

  5. lurcher1948

     /  July 24, 2017

    Another school year heading towards its end,Bill English will bring out that old national war cry,all NZ Children are druggies to lazy to get up HOPLESS and NZ businesses cannot be bothered training them up so rack up the importation of those skilled Mongolians and Azbecks

    • Gezza

       /  July 24, 2017

      Bill English will bring out that old national war cry,all NZ Children are druggies to lazy to get up HOPLESS

      I don’t think he says they have a beer for breakfast Lurchy?

      I think this really IS what he’s hearing from NZ employers.

      and NZ businesses cannot be bothered training them up

      I do think that’s true, so there’s obviously something lacking in the idea of just letting private industry do the job.

      • lurcher1948

         /  July 24, 2017

        Every child is being tainted by bill englishes words =,90000 this year 180000 next year why train up NZs when mongolians are so much easy to rip off with long hours on underpaid wages

        • Gezza

           /  July 24, 2017

          No, I don’t think they all are, Lurchy. I meet plenty of them in New World & in the local Takeaway joints – working part-time & studying as well. They’re always very pleasant & seem quite happy to be doing both – with an eye on their future being working in something more lucrative. Lass I spoke to in the Chippy in January was accepted to do Engineering at Canterbury Uni.

          My only experience with young tradies – apprentices – was when two plumbing apprentices did most of the work remodelling our bathroom to make it into a walk-in shower room, under the pop-in supervision of the contractor, a local plumbing firm. It was a major job, jackhammering, stripping off walls, replumbing, diverting pipes, sewer outlet etc. Took 3 weeks, should’ve taken one.

          They were both lazy, late, messy, incredibly rude, wasted endless time talking bollocks to each other as soon as the boss left, no people skills at all, & I had to sweep up & tidy up, and block up holes in walls overnight, every day they turned up. Christ it was good to see the last of them. They were gone from the business a month later. I’ve never used that plumber since.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 24, 2017

            Gezza, our local plumber is like greased lightening. You could have flown him down and he’d have been out of there finished in a day. On normal jobs like putting in a toilet if you turn around you’ve missed him and he’s gone.

            • Gezza

               /  July 24, 2017

              I believe you. My experience of young kiwi apprentices is limited to that described above, but I do think they were possibly reasonably typical of the less academically inclined young folk’s attitude to work & customers these days. They have no fkn idea what they can do to their employer’s business.

              These two young chaps were a shockingly bad advertisement for their employer. I didn’t want to have to bloody complain about them. You couldn’t find any one more friendly to tradespeole than me. I appreciate a good tradie, as obviously you, & anybody does. I tried not to bother them unnecessarily but shit they were messy, & when I needed to ask what they were doing a couple of times – they just looked blankly at me & were just basically surly.

              No idea of how to relate to a customer who’s actually the source if their wages. The kind of dumb fuk “we talk to teenagers only” attitude these two had was astounding. But it was simple lack of ordinary courtesy & goid customer relations. I can only assume they came out of skool like that !

              No wonder kiwi employers complain, if they’re typical. The New World part-timers heading on to Uni are a completely different kettle of fish. I relate to them well, see a lot of them, and I can tell you what the difference is. Good customer service training – and good parenting.

            • Gezza

               /  July 24, 2017

              PS: I’ve employed two pommy tradesmen at my place – one to fit window screens & screen doors, & a gasfitter to install a new gas stove. They were both not unlike those two apprentices. Both slapdash, damaged the products, & left a mess. The gasfitter even wanted to come back to do an under the table cash job – it was a con, didn’t need to be done.

              I won’t employ another pom.

  6. Conspiratoor

     /  July 24, 2017

    “But there were 10,000 jobs created each month”

    Don’t be seduced by the nats bullshit folks. New jobs are being fuelled by consumption which is in turn driven by the very problem they have caused and are too gutless to front up to. Like rats in a ratcage we are being spun faster just to stand still.

    True economic growth is led by exports and these have been stagnant for three years, while our chinese masters toy with commodity prices. I despair for our grandkids

    • Blazer

       /  July 24, 2017

      Dead right Con …some do not want to see. ..the obvious.

    • Gezza

       /  July 24, 2017

      1. Do you think there’s a plan to hand us over to China & India, c – or just short-sightedness focussed on short-term gains & just constantly getting re-elected until the fkrs are old enough to retire, collect the Parliamentary pension, & then serve lucrative sinecures on highly paid boards until they cark it?

      2. What’s a better way?

      3. Which party’s advocating it, and could make it work?

  7. oldlaker

     /  July 24, 2017

    Business will always push for the lowest labour costs. So NZers are now hit by jobs being sent overseas (call centres, design, image handling for publishers) and those jobs that can’t be physically exported are being passed to Third World workers entering the country. It’s a double whammy.