Strong migrant wave likely to continue
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.