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Business doesn't like immigration policies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/06/2017

Labour's approach it to clamp down on the numbers of overseas students and reduce immigration by about 30,000. © Shutterstock Labour's approach it to clamp down on the numbers of overseas students and reduce immigration by about 30,000. Finance Minister Bill English is spending a few days in Australia talking to counterparts and finding out how the economy is getting along. © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Finance Minister Bill English is spending a few days in Australia talking to counterparts and finding out how the economy is getting along. The business sector has analysed the immigration policies of both the main parties and says it isn't enthusiastic about either of them.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope says National's approach is to tweak the system to achieve a reduction of about 8500 immigrants a year.

To do that it is restricting low-skilled immigrants to three-year visas, limiting skilled worker visas to those earning over $49,000 and increasing the points for skilled migrants to get residency.

Labour's approach it to clamp down on the numbers of overseas students and reduce immigration by about 30,000.

To do that it would tighten entrance criteria for lower-level courses, fewer overseas students would be allowed to work while studying here, and there would be no work visas for those who have completed their study if they don't already have a job.

"Which is the best approach? Actually, business is not enthusiastic about either," Mr Hope said on Friday.

"Many employers are experiencing unprecedented demand for their goods and services and want to be able to continue to meet that demand."

Mr Hope says the size of the workforce must increase.

Education alone isn't enough, which is why businesses are relying on migrant workers.

"It would be good if the system allowed more high-skilled workers in, but lower-skilled workers are needed in many industries too," he said.

"For example, around 20 per cent of the hospitality workforce are migrants because there are not enough New Zealanders to fill the jobs."

Mr Hope says overseas students provide good skilled and unskilled labour and also contribute greatly to export earnings.

"The fear they are causing a blowout in permanent residency numbers is overblown - only one in 10 migrants, including international students, stays on in New Zealand permanently."

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