Thursday, July 08, 2004

STUFF : POLITICS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website

STUFF : POLITICS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website
Government's increased immigrant target scorned
08 July 2004

Immigration consultants have scorned the Government's increased target of 50,000 new migrants next year, describing it as "nonsensical and delusory".

Immigration Minister Paul Swain said last week the target was being raised from the current 45,000 because that figure would not be achieved this year.

The Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI), which represents immigration consultants, said yesterday raising the target was not a solution to the shortfall.

"It truly defies commonsense to imagine that you can succeed in meeting a higher target when you've already failed miserably to meet a lower one," said association spokesman Bill Milnes.

"All the signs are that the immigration programme is being managed in an ivory tower by people with impressive academic qualifications and little knowledge of the real world."

When Mr Swain told a parliamentary committee last Thursday that the target was being raised, he blamed "transitional issues" for the shortfall and said a new marketing campaign would be launched aimed at skilled migrants who spoke good English.

The NZAMI said that in the year to June 2004 only 517 applicants were approved under the new skilled migrant category.

"We have consistently warned that the complexities of the new system would turn valuable immigrants away," Mr Milnes said.

"One of the key reasons why we don't have enough skilled migrants is that people have been put off by constant policy changes and by our new, unwelcoming, time-consuming and cumbersome invitation-only procedure.

"Why should would-be migrants with internationally marketable skills expose themselves to this rigmarole when other affluent countries offer more straightforward, welcoming and dependable procedures?"

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters sees the situation differently, and said yesterday the increased quota would lead to "another immigrant invasion" under the guise of meeting a shortage of skilled workers.

"We are being dragged into the status of an Asian colony," he said.

Progressive MP Matt Robson said Mr Peters was conducting a hate campaign against migrants and was causing long-term damage to harmonious relations within New Zealand.


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