Strong mi­grant wave likely to con­tinue

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE - GED CANN

A ‘‘layed back, re­laxed, chilled out’’ life­style is why Vikar Singh loves New Zealand. Fill­ing a skills short­age was his ticket in.

As Na­tional stands to keep the helm for an­other three years, Singh is left ap­pre­ci­at­ing that if he ap­plied to­day, his path to res­i­dency may have been tougher. As of Au­gust 28, mi­grants like him who came in un­der the Skilled Mi­grant Cat­e­gory no longer earn points for qual­i­fy­ing in an area of ‘‘ab­so­lute skills short­age’’, or for ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions in fu­ture growth ar­eas, such as ICT.

This wasn’t the case in 2014 when Singh took up a po­si­tion in IT. Hope­ful im­mi­grants will still be breath­ing a sigh of re­lief, how­ever, with the al­ter­na­tive of a Labour-led gov­ern­ment likely to have re­sulted in crack­downs of up to 30,000 fewer new ar­rivals an­nu­ally. New Zealand has ex­pe­ri­enced record high im­mi­grant num­bers in re­cent years. Sta­tis­tics NZ recorded net mi­gra­tion to­talled 72,305 in the year to June 30, a fig­ure which had been steadily in­creas­ing since late 2012.

With the elec­tion look­ing sewn up, Na­tional’s changes to the Es­sen­tial Skills work visa for tem­po­rary mi­grants and the Skilled Mi­grant Cat­e­gory pol­icy are here to stay, as is the growth in num­bers.

One of Labour’s key rea­sons for putting the squeeze on im­mi­gra­tion was in or­der to fill jobs with New Zealan­ders, rather than im­mi­grants.

The changes to the Es­sen­tial Skills Work Visa pol­icy was Na­tional’s an­swer to this, be­ing de­signed to keep New Zealan­ders at the front of the queue for jobs while pre­serv­ing the tem­po­rary labour nec­es­sary to keep eco­nomic growth tick­ing over. Those clas­si­fied as lower-skilled, who earned less than the 85 per cent of the me­dian wage, can only stay in the coun­try for three years, af­ter which they must spend 12 months out­side New Zealand be­fore they can be granted an­other visa in a low­er­skilled role.

Singh was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned for those in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try who he said would feel the sting of the new bands par­tic­u­larly strongly.‘‘Peo­ple who are earn­ing less than we get in IT will suf­fer.’’ IT’S a lot of TV time to fill. And for that, you need sus­te­nance. So the open­ing hours of elec­tion night TV proved to be as food-ob­sessed as a Weight Watch­ers meet­ing. We had men­tions of bis­cotti, spaghetti pizza, tomato sauce, bake sales, and what Wendy Petrie in­sisted was called ‘bass fish’.

But the big win­ners were Heller’s, and their pre-cooked sausage, the cham­pion sausage of the lazy, the lack­ing in taste, and it turned out, the Jacinda ArdernClarke Gay­ford house­hold.

On a night where ev­ery­one in the news­room got a gig – an ef­fer­ves­cent Dun­can Gar­ner reck­oned, im­prob­a­bly, that Three had 200 journos out there in the field – there were some crap post­ings.

It was dif­fi­cult to know whether the worst of them was stand­ing in the cold out­side the Pull­man Ho­tel in case Bill English ap­peared. What had Paul Hobbs done to de­serve that as­sign­ment for TVNZ? ‘‘I’ll be sta­tioned here all night,’’ he said re­proach­fully.

Or could the short-straw se­lec­tor have been Jes­sica Mutch, sent to the Bay of Is­lands to re­ceive a sav­aging within the first hour of the evening from Win­ston Pe­ters? ‘‘He needs to calm down a bit,’’ reck­oned Gar­ner.

But you could feel no pity for those posted to Pt Che­va­lier to stand out­side Jacinda’s place. Here they could com­pli­ment the work done a freshly-painted fence, sam­ple a bake sale from the lo­cal cap­i­tal­ist kids, and then be greeted by Gay­ford, teatowel ca­su­ally draped across a shoul­der, of­fer­ing bar­be­cue of­f­cuts.

He went first to Three, and Sam Hayes, and then to TVNZ, in the form of Wendy Petrie, with his tray of Heller’s and var­i­ous ac­cou­trements. Both were of­fered the 42kg bass Gay­ford had caught ear­lier that week ... sorry Wendy, the bass-fish. Wendy piled in. Sam de­clared her veg­e­tar­i­an­ism.

This was the echo ef­fect of a tele­vi­sion re­viewer switch­ing chan­nels at play, and it seemed that TVNZ spent much of the evening fol­low­ing Three. Wendy even wan­dered across the back of Sam’s shot at one stage. Like­wise, Three went to Gareth Mor­gan, an­grily declar­ing he was ‘‘dis­ap­pointed in New Zealand’’. By the time TVNZ got there a few min­utes later, he was merely feel­ing numb.

An­chor­ing Three, Gar­ner looked ab­so­lutely stoked to be there; Paddy Gower, han­dling the num­bers, was tense. Si­mon Dal­low, do­ing the same num­ber­crunch­ing for TVNZ, was much more serene. But in the big chair, Mike Hosk­ing was on ir­ri­tat­ing form, cut­ting across al­most ev­ery­one on his panel with dis­dain.

Vikar Singh voted for the first time in this elec­tion.

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