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28 February 2013
After an unexpected reshuffle of the New Zealand government's cabinet in January, the new immigration minister, Michael Woodhouse, gave a speech on 14th February to the New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment in Christchurch.
Mr Woodhouse replaced Nathan Guy who has become the Minister for Primary Industries, in the reshuffle. Mr Woodhouse had no new initiatives to report but gave an account of recent initiatives taken by Immigration New Zealand, his governmental department. He said it was fitting that he was speaking in Christchurch, in the province of Canterbury, a city that was devastated by an earthquake in 2011, because he said 'the Canterbury rebuild will be a major focus for me'.
Mr Guy announced the IGMS last year. It will see visa applications put online and allow those applying for New Zealand visas to manage their visa application accounts remotely. Mr Woodhouse said that, as the systems came online 'customers will start to notice the difference.' The first parts of the project should come online in 2013 with the system expected to be fully operational by 2015.
He said that New Zealand was revamping its visa application systems with the GSDM programme. The government is going into partnership with a private sector partner to establish 'hubs' for visa processing creating a 'smarter, leaner, more efficient service'.
Mr Woodhouse said that he would be taking steps to ensure that those jobs on the Canterbury Skills Shortage List were there for good reasons and that sufficient steps were being taken to train New Zealanders in the trades on the list.
Mr Woodhouse also said that the New Zealand government's decision to allow international students of English studying in Christchurch to work for more hours per week had helped boost student numbers but said that the government would crack down on illegal workers found anywhere in the country. Mr Woodhouse said that New Zealand had attracted NZ$1.3bn of potential international investment since July 2009.
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