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Labour proposes tax for hiring immigrants

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Labour has proposed a levy on New Zealand businesses who turn to overseas workers to fix skill shortages instead of training New Zealanders to do the jobs.</span> © Getty Images Labour has proposed a levy on New Zealand businesses who turn to overseas workers to fix skill shortages instead of training New Zealanders to do the jobs. Labour is proposing to tax local businesses who look to overseas skilled workers instead of training New Zealanders to do the job.

But party leader Andrew Little has denied it's a tax on immigration.

The recommendation is part of Labour's Future of Work report, released at their annual conference in Auckland on Saturday.

"We propose that the government consider imposing a training levy on industries in which skill shortages continue to exist. Firms that can demonstrate they are actively engaged in the training process would be exempt from such a levy," the commission proposed.

Tourism, hospitality and construction would be the industries in the firing line, according to Mr Little.

"The number of work visas going to people in semi-skilled jobs and occupations that could be filled by people here even with a little bit of preliminary training, that doesn't make sense. That's a question of how we are managing immigration to me," Mr Little told TV3's The Nation on Saturday.

If it works then would see fewer work visas issued to people in semi-skilled roles.

But Mr Little said it was not about taxing businesses who turn to immigrants because of a shortage of skilled New Zealand workers.

"No, it's about make sure that we are doing for people already living here... [them] being given the opportunity to get the skills needed to fill the jobs that are here."

"We have roughly 15,000 people who do labouring work who are unemployed. Last year we issued 6500 work visas to do labouring work. That doesn't make sense."

He also denied it was revenue-gathering for the government, describing it as revenue gathering for industries to invest in training their future workforces.

It's not yet clear how much a levy would cost businesses or what the entire scheme would cost.

It's expected that money raised would be reinvested into existing training infrastructure.

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