Immigration under fire in New Zealand

26 August 2005

Immigration has come under political debate in New Zealand. New Zealand First says that the Labour and National Party's immigration policies have not ended skill shortages, and are keeping New Zealander's wages low. The First party says young people are leaving the country in search of higher wages, and unskilled workers immigrating to New Zealand are replacing them.

New Zealand First would drop the corporate tax rate from 33c to 30c in the dollar and raise the minimum wage from $9.50 an hour to $12.

New Zealand First leaders added that many of the new immigrants were Asians. The country's immigration minister criticized New Zealand First's leadership for singling out the Asian community.

"I think what it does is create a cloud across the whole Asian community that makes them feel unwelcome here when they are."

Many of the young Asians in Auckland were temporary language students, who went home after a short stay, not permanent residents.

The Government had embarked on several measures aimed at stemming the exodus of skilled workers overseas, he said. Of the permanent residents settling here, about 60 per cent were in skilled category.

Attracting them to New Zealand was vital to meeting domestic skills shortages, said the immigration minister. The reason those shortages were not completely plugged was because of the thriving economy and low unemployment. The Government was also addressing the skills shortages by increasing funding for tertiary and industry-based training. Mr Swain said.