The Press

Govt may back down over skilled migrants


The Government seems likely to back down on changes to immigratio­n law due to come into effect next month.

The proposed changes to the skilled migrant visa would set a minimum median annual income of $48,859 for jobs that are currently considered ‘‘skilled’’ and make migrants leave for at least a year after three years of working.

Several regional employers and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum have pleaded with the Government to reconsider the changes, and they seem to have gained some ground.

Sources have said the Government is now actively considerin­g not implementi­ng the new rules after negative feedback from the regions.

Prime Minister Bill English didn’t rule out making changes to the proposed new rules when asked yesterday.

‘‘We’ve been consulting on some propositio­ns we put out a few months ago and will be making final decisions about that before too long,’’ English said.

‘‘The whole purpose here is to get the skills we need in a growing economy that’s creating 10,000 jobs a month. We need people to build the infrastruc­ture, build the houses, to work in our growing export industries, and so our policy will make sure we will get the skills we need.

‘‘We’re listening to what’s being said. We’re well aware of the strong demand for jobs, and we will take that into account when finalising the policy.’’

The changes, announced in April by Immigratio­n Minister Michael Woodhouse, were sold as something of a crackdown.

Woodhouse said they were intended to help manage ‘‘the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand’’.

Public consultati­on on the changes ended in May, but it appears lobbying has continued from business groups around the country.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum asked last month for the Government to reconsider the changes, asking for more than just ‘‘Auckland issues’’ to be considered. ‘‘Measures designed to manage Auckland issues do not well serve our region, businesses or communitie­s,’’ the 10 mayors said in a letter.

The region was ‘‘completely dependent’’ on migrant labour filling skills shortages, Christchur­ch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The Government’s proposal includes a one-off ‘‘pathway to residence’’ for 4000 temporary migrant workers in the South Island. Canterbury’s mayors wanted to take that approach further.

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