The Labour Government’s Track Record on Immigration

Opinion piece: Aaron Martin New Zealand Immigration law

As New Zealand navigates the complexities of a post-COVID world, the Labour Government’s approach to immigration has increasingly come under scrutiny. From mismanaging MIQ systems to immigration reforms that have wreaked havoc, the government’s track record raises critical questions.

 With families separated, work visas under review, and a system more cumbersome than efficient, it’s high time to delve deeper. As we approach another election, understanding this track record becomes ever more crucial.

Do You Remember the Labour Government’s Immigration Response During COVID?

  • Families were separated for nearly three years, missing out on significant life events.
  • New Zealanders found themselves locked out, unable to reclaim their belongings, jobs, or even their children.
  • The MIQ system was fraught with failures, while a popular DJ entered the country three times on a performance visa.
  • There was a refusal to conduct repatriation flights, unlike other nations.
  • Promised residence within 18 months for those present during COVID was never delivered.
  • Post-COVID, the new automated visitor visa application system had delays exceeding four months, ruining many families’ Christmas plans.
  • Residence cases left unprocessed for two years during COVID, forcing applicants to reapply under the new “faster” RV 2021 visa, only to wait another 2.5 years.
  • Instead of addressing post-COVID labour shortages, a new work visa system was introduced that exploited migrants while generating revenue.

Do You Remember Their Attempts to Reform the Immigration System?

The accredited employer scheme was supposed to tackle migrant exploitation. Instead, it led to chaos and an unprecedented number of complaints.

  • The new work visa system was rushed through without adequate checks, resulting in rampant migrant exploitation.
  • Investor migrants faced a sudden cancellation of their application pathway.
  • The $52 million online application system was plagued with errors and even crashed on launch.
  • Immigration New Zealand recently revealed that it has received 711 complaints against accredited employers, with 154 currently under criminal investigation.

The Parent Visa Category: A Game of Chance?

They have restarted the Parent Visa Category, aiming to allow New Zealand residents and citizens to sponsor their parents for residence. However, the odds are not in favour of the applicants.

  • There are currently 5,000 people in the queue since the announcement of the Parent Visa Category restart, competing for a mere 500 annual visa approvals.
  • The odds for success are dismal, with only about a 2% chance of an application being approved.

What About Their Stance on Nurses?

Despite a public health system nursing shortage of over 4,000, the government’s policies have been less than accommodating. A year-long recruitment drive to attract overseas nurses resulted in just 32 hires, filling merely 1% of the over 3,000 nursing vacancies across New Zealand. While the exact campaign costs remain undisclosed due to commercial sensitivity, nearly $600,000 was spent just on media placements.

  • Nurses were initially excluded from the “Green List” Straight to Residence pathway.
  • It took enormous pressure to reverse this stance.
  • Thousands of New Zealand nurses have now registered to work in Australia for better pay, the exodus exacerbates staffing shortages and puts additional strain on a workforce already facing burnout.

And Their Approach to Domestic Violence Victims?

While the scope of the Victims of Domestic Violence Work visa was widened, a 53-month processing queue now exists for the corresponding Residence Visa category.

The Final Question

With such a level of mismanagement over the past six years, should the immigration portfolio be entrusted to them for another three? If you’ve managed to become a resident in the last three years, congratulations. It’s been an uphill battle against numerous obstacles set by the previous government. Bear this in mind when casting your vote this year.

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