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NZ is urged to stay open to migrants

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/01/2017
The report concludes New Zealand is better off by keeping its door open to the world. © BROKER/REX/Shutterstock The report concludes New Zealand is better off by keeping its door open to the world.

New Zealand is a wonderful place to live, partly because of migrants so keep the gates open and harness the contribution migrants can make.

That's the conclusion of a report titled The New New Zealanders released on Monday by think tank the New Zealand Initiative.

The report comes after Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy and others condemned the move by US President Donald Trump to sign a 90-day ban on citizens of seven majority Muslim nations - Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - from entering the US, deeming them "countries of concern".

The NZ Initiative report says inflows of people during the past several centuries into New Zealand have turned an uninhabited island into one of the best countries to live in.

Reports of net migration figures of 69,000 in the 2015/16 year raise valid concerns about competition for jobs and housing, and pressures on public services and infrastructure, the report says.

But fear and confusion about possible links with terrorism have been harnessed by politicians. Even the pro-immigration National-led government had tightened policy settings to appease the public.

The report concludes New Zealand is better off by keeping its door open to the world.

Labour's immigration spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway says the report glosses over important subjects to reach a predetermined conclusion.

"The rapid growth in population that New Zealand is experiencing places significant pressure on infrastructure, particularly in Auckland. Not only is immigration one of the key drivers of this population surge, it is the only factor that government can control," he said.

The report also fails to address the inequity of outcomes for different kinds of migrants.

People who transition from temporary work or student visas to residency and citizenship earn considerably less and have poorer employment prospects than people who come as skilled migrants. Those people are also incredibly exposed to exploitation from unscrupulous employers.

"The report concludes that, although immigration may reduce wages in the short term, everything will work out OK in the long run. That is cold comfort for people who can't make ends meet and are struggling to keep up with the pace of economic change," he says.

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