More Border Exemptions – But No MIQ Spots

The government has again announced more border exemptions for skilled workers in demand- but with no details on who is eligible and how they will get through MIQ, is this announcement just another opportunity to look good with no real plan to make it happen?

In response to the industry crying out for more skilled staff, yesterday the Government announced exemptions for 600 tech workers. On Sunday, the Government also approved exceptions for key agricultural jobs including 200 mobile plant machinery operators, 40 shearers and 50 wool handlers.

“We’ve approved these exceptions to support key autumn harvest requirements and relieve workforce pressures created by COVID-19,” Damien O’Connor said.

Exemptions, but no MIQ?

Previous exemptions for teachers resulted in 100 applicants – but zero workers as none of the applicants could secure an MIQ spot.

Because of COVID restrictions, most foreigners cannot currently get a visa to enter New Zealand. However, a small number of crucially needed workers can get exemptions through various schemes announced by the government. Yet, this does not guarantee a space in MIQ.

Another exemption for up to 200 crucial dairy workers resulted in just three workers arriving by the start of November. An exemption for four crane operators has brought in zero, and an exemption for up to 50 vets has resulted in just nine.

The catastrophic failure of this government to attract key workers who are considered to have a “critical purpose” in entering New Zealand as border exceptions shows that we are in real trouble and demonstrates the arrogance of the current Cabinet.

The warnings have been loud and clear for a long time – the world is opening back up; other countries are attracting talent and we are missing out because our border remains closed. Remember this government initially came to power wanting to slash immigration.

Empty announcements

This government has a track record of making announcements without first seeking out the immigration criteria, which we might not get for weeks. Effectively, what we are seeing is ministers making decisions that promote their portfolio and make themselves look good without any workable plan.

Some of the exemption lists require nomination by government departments or professional bodies. But what isn’t clear is how they get that nomination. It’s just another example of ministers promoting a scheme without actually providing details for people to look at.

It seems obvious… if you’re going to make an announcement about border exemptions, make a plan and make the criteria clear. At the same time, tell people how to apply, who’s likely to be eligible, and make some provision for them to actually gain entry to the country. Is that too much to ask?

Government dictated entry to New Zealand – who pays the price?

I think it’s fair to say the government has now changed the border from being a passive recipient of visa applications – from anyone interested in coming here – to now dictating who comes in. And I’m sure they are happy with that outcome. Unfortunately, our economy will pay the price, and so will we.

The ability for our children to receive a quality education will suffer.

The ability of our construction companies to complete work on major infrastructure projects that will improve our lives will suffer.

With the lack of vets, animal welfare will suffer.

This is a worrying trend of this group of government ministers – they are quite prepared to compromise New Zealanders’ lifestyles, the economy, and core services in pursuit of an ideology while ignoring the international reality of a globally competitive labour market that is in short supply.

If they don’t change course, quality of life in New Zealand is going to become less attractive – making it more difficult for businesses and government to attract the critical skills needed for our economy.

I wonder when they are going to begin taking notice of what they are being told, or are they surrounded by people who just tell them what they want to hear?

Need help or advice on your immigration situation? Contact Aaron Martin at NZIL for an honest and helpful appraisal.

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