Mayors to seek meeting with immigration minister

22:24, Mar 09 2014
Tim Shadbolt
TIM SHADBOLT: Invercargill mayor.

A "disappointing" meeting with an Immigration Service official to discuss settlement support has spurred the region's mayors to demand a meeting with the immigration minister.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment settlement, protection and attraction general manager Steve McGill met the mayors and 25 other stakeholders in Invercargill last week to discuss its proposed national restructuring.

The changes would result in a fulltime, Southland-based settlement co-ordinator being replaced with a national face-to-face settlement information service, eight retention specialists throughout the country, and phone and email support.

At the meeting, the case was tabled for an alternative settlement support delivery model such as a regional partnership programme with a fulltime person in the region.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks told a Venture Southland joint committee last week the outcome of the meeting was disappointing and the mayors wanted to take the issue to the highest level and hold a mayoral forum with Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt echoed this sentiment.

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"Regardless of the information we presented, MBIE are under strict orders and we could not get past that point," he said.

The meeting was told about a $91.5 million immigration computer upgrade, Mr Shadbolt said.

Venture Southland chief executive Paul Casson said he asked Mr McGill "if it's not broken, why fix it?" but was told it was a "budget thing".

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said Mr McGill told the meetings there were limitations imposed by the ministry's budget of $1.7m and its computer upgrade.

Funding for Southland had not changed in seven years, Mr Canny said. "If they keep the funds applied in our region in the pot, we could have enough support to keep the current programme going."

 

The Southland Times