You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Labour's immigration policy under fire

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/06/2017

The effectiveness of Labour's plan to cut immigration is being questioned as the government sorts through the details of Monday's policy announcement.

The party says there are too many people coming here and they're putting pressure on housing and Auckland's choked-up roads.

A Labour-led government would reduce net migration, currently running at over 70,000 a year, by between 20,000 and 30,000.

It would do that mainly by cutting the number of student visas for "low value" courses, training Kiwis so they can be employed in skill-starved industries instead of hiring immigrants, and ending the right of most foreign students to work after graduating.

Prime Minister Bill English, and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, say it would harm the economy and wouldn't work anyway.

They say foreign students aren't buying houses or driving cars.

"A lot of students are in home stays or in hostels, so if the goal is to take pressure off the housing market I'm not sure that's going to have any material effect whatsoever," Mr Woodhouse told RNZ.

He's also questioning Labour's assertions that study visas are being used as a back door to gaining residency.

"A lot of students may want to stay for ever, but the simple fact is they can't," he said.

"The overwhelming majority go home again."

The international education industry is warning that many centres will close if Labour implements its policy.

Mr Woodhouse says it's a big export earner that employs about 33,000 people.

"There's no doubt these policies would have a significant negative impact on it."

Wellington Chamber of Commerce says tightening the rules is likely to make it even harder for local businesses to find the skilled staff they need.

"Businesses are constantly telling us their biggest challenge is finding the right staff with the right skills," said chief executive John Milford.

"In particular, our hospitality, IT and construction sectors are struggling to find good staff."

Mr Milford says as long as businesses are short of skilled staff, they have no option but to look to immigrants.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon