Jacinda Ardern’s “immigration reset” another policy lie

In May last year, New Zealand’s Ardern Government vowed to end low-skilled, wage crushing migration via a “once-in-a generation” reset for New Zealand’s immigration system.

It flagged a significantly smaller migration intake post-Covid that focuses on highly skilled, highly paid and productive migrants that fill genuine skills shortages. This means abolishing the current low-skilled system, which has allowed businesses “to rely on lower-skilled labour and suppress wages rather than investing capital in productivity-enhancing plant and machinery, or employing and upskilling New Zealanders into work”.

The Ardern Government also tasked the New Zealand Productivity Commission (PC) with undertaking a system-wide review of the nation’s immigration program, with particular focus on the “impact of immigration on the labour market, housing and associated infrastructure, and the natural environment”.  The goal of the inquiry is to “enable New Zealand to strategically optimise its immigration settings” so that it maximises community wellbeing and living standards.

In October, the Ardern Government began backsliding on its commitment, announcing that 165,000 permanent residency visas (representing 3.3% of New Zealand’s population) would be handed out like tic tacs.

The impacts are now being felt with a record number of residency and work visas handed out in March:

The latest figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show 32,607 work visas were approved in March this year, up from 12,579 in February and 12,864 in March last year…

New Zealand work visas

The previous record for any month of the year was 24,261 work visas approved in March 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit…

March was the third month in a row that residence visa approvals have hit a fresh high, rising from 3684 in December last year to 10,806 in January this year, 11,793 in February and 13,206 in March.

New Zealand residency visas

The previous record for residence visa approvals in any month of the year was 5121 in May 2016…

Under the Ardern Government’s 165,000 strong permanent visa announcement, the criteria for qualifying for permanent residency is ridiculously broad, given a visa holder only needs to meet one of six criteria:

  • lived in New Zealand for three or more years, or
  • earn above the median wage ($27 per hour or more), or
  • work in a role on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, or
  • hold occupational registration and work in the health or education sector, or
  • work in personal care or other critical health worker roles, or
  • work in a specified role in the primary industries.

In particular, any temporary migrant on an “eligible work visa” that has “lived in New Zealand for three or more years” qualifies for permanent residency, even if they are paid well below the median wage.

As usual, the fake Greens still weren’t happy. They wanted the Ardern Government to open the migrant floodgates even wider by making it easier for “low-income” migrants to gain permanent residency:

“We will also keep campaigning to ensure that low-income migrants have realistic pathways to residency. People who earn below the median wage are often in exploitative industries such as hospitality and with visa conditions that attach them to single employers, and should not be left out of the one-off residency programme.”

Why is it that the Greens – supposedly an environmental party – always love mass immigration so much? I can’t think of anything worse for New Zealand’s (nor Australia’s) environment than rapid population growth. Yet, they always want more.

Regardless, the Ardern Government has a horrible knack for announcing one thing and then doing the opposite. This helps to explain why Kiwi voters have abandoned her. She is no longer trusted.

Unconventional Economist
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