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PM unconcerned about Immigration rise

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/04/2017

Prime Minister Bill English says he isn't concerned by the revelation that another migration record has been set.

Just days after the government revealed its plan to control the number and quality of immigrants, Statistics NZ has released statistics showing that in the 12 months to March the population grew by a net 71,900 migrants, up from 71,300 in the year to February.

The figures show 57,600 people left New Zealand, compared to the arrival of 129,500.

Annual net migration has been on the rise since 2012.

"No, we're not concerned," Mr English told reporters on Wednesday.

"I think it shows the attractiveness of New Zealand to a lot of different sorts of people from overseas."

Mr English said New Zealand needed the skills immigrants brought with them, which helped economic growth.

But the biggest single change over the last five years had been the number of Kiwis staying home and the number returning, he said.

"It's a good measure of the attractiveness of New Zealand - Kiwis voting with their feet."

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse last week introduced changes to the country's skilled migration eligibility criteria to attract more highly-paid and highly-skilled migrants.

Opposition parties argued the changes amounted to mere "tinkering".

Labour leader Andrew Little said the new figures show an urgent rethink on immigration is needed.

Auckland, where almost half the new migrants settled in the last 12 months, is already struggling, he said.

"We can't continue to bring so many people into our biggest city which is already suffering from traffic congestion, overcrowded schools and soaring house prices," he said.

"Labour will reduce immigration numbers, better match migrants with skills our industries need, accelerate investment in vital infrastructure and build houses that a growing population needs."

Mr Little is yet to reveal Labour's immigration policy but he has said he would cut the immigration rate by "tens of thousands".

NZ First leader Winston Peters wants immigration reduced to 10,000 per year with a requirement migrants live in the regions before being allowed to move to Auckland.

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