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Immigration policy takes aim at housing

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 09:41 28/06/2014

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Labour would turn on and off the migration tap to cool an overheated housing market.

Overseas workers will have to earn at least the living wage, currently $18.80 per hour.

Migrants will also be offered incentives to settle outside Auckland, in new policy released this morning.

And the UN refugee quota would eventually be raised to 1000, up from 750.

The policy follows Treasury predictions that net migration will peak at 41,000 in the December quarter, putting pressure on infrastructure and housing.

Mallard says Labour would ease the "peaks and troughs." However, it has pulled back from introducing a cap.

"Around half of permanent arrivals to New Zealand move to the Auckland region, Mallard said. "We want to encourage people coming into the country to accept jobs or establish businesses in the regions, and we'll do that by increasing the incentives to the points system."

Under a Labour government, Kiwi business must exhaust the options for hiring local workers before bringing in overseas migrants.

The party also wants to target the exploitation of migrant workers. Businesses will have to pay at least the living wage, after accommodation deductions. Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) will be paid at least the minimum wage plus $1.25 an hour, with accommodation provided in addition to wages.

"We are also concerned that a significant number of workers are being brought into New Zealand for relatively low-skilled jobs on low rates of pay. This not only leads to exploitation of these workers but undercuts the local labour market, pushing wages down for Kiwis," he said.

"To address that Labour will require employers bringing in overseas workers to pay a living wage (after accommodation deductions) where the job offer forms part of the reason the application is accepted. This does not apply for the Pacific quota migrants."

The party will also review Pacific quotas and the family reunification category.

"We will also move to facilitate residence applications for people who have been legally in New Zealand on work visas since 2009, and for their families," Mallard added.

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