South’s mi­grant work­ers ‘val­ued’

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TO­HILL

‘‘We do strug­gle to fill roles, hence there's so many for­eign­ers.’’

Clutha-South­land MP Hamish Walker says he will be stress­ing the value and con­tri­bu­tion of the re­gion’s mi­grant work­ers when Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Iain LeesGal­loway comes down on a tour of his elec­torate.

Walker has been ac­cused of ‘‘ir­re­spon­si­ble fear­mon­ger­ing’’ and ‘‘stok­ing fear and un­cer­tainty’’ by the Min­is­ter be­cause of his crit­i­cism that the cuts would be dis­as­trous for the south­ern econ­omy.

How­ever, he was pleased to hear that the Min­is­ter was pre­pared ‘‘to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand just how much fear and un­cer­tainty there is’’ about a Labour pol­icy that would re­duce mi­grant num­bers by be­tween 20,000 and 30,000, from 70,000 a year.

Lees-Gal­loway stressed this would be a tar­geted, re­gion­alised ap­proach ‘‘match­ing mi­grant work­ers to re­gional skills short­ages’’.

Otago Fed­er­ated Farm­ers dairy chair­man Stephen Craw­ford, who farms near Cly­de­vale in the Clutha District, said there was clearly a short­age of good peo­ple. His six em­ploy­ees all come from over­seas and had been with him many years. ‘‘We do strug­gle to fill roles, hence there’s so many for­eign­ers.’’

How­ever, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers was work­ing with train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to cre­ate ap­pren­tice­ship schemes to en­cour­age a lo­cal work­force, to help steer peo­ple into the in­dus­try, ‘‘but it’s not a quick fix’’, he stressed.

‘‘It’s hard to re­place that level of ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s not to say Ki­wis can’t do it. We’ve tried but you just can’t get Ki­wis.’’

‘‘I would love the op­por­tu­nity to talk to the Min­is­ter. We need to work with the Gov­ern­ment on this be­cause we can’t op­er­ate busi­nesses with­out staff.’’

Te Anau’s The Ranch Bar and Grill owner Daniel An­der­son echoed sim­i­lar con­cerns from the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try per­spec­tive. He can­not open the up­stairs of his res­tau­rant at the mo­ment be­cause of chronic un­der-staffing.

‘‘We’ve got no Ki­wis that want to work. I want to know why they’re still on a ben­e­fit. There’s a lot of places look­ing for work­ers.’’

He wel­comed a min­is­te­rial visit, to show what it was like to run a busi­ness with­out staff.

A spokesman for the Min­is­ter said he was un­sure when the visit would take place, but that it was def­i­nitely ‘‘on the agenda’’.

Walker com­ments on English res­ig­na­tion, page 20.

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