Government may back down on immigration changes

Prime Minister Bill English won't rule it backing down on the proposed changes.
JOHN HAWKINS/STUFF

Prime Minister Bill English won't rule it backing down on the proposed changes.

The Government seems likely to back down on changes to immigration law due to come into effect next month.

The proposed changes to the skilled migrant visa would set a minimum median annual income of $48,859 for jobs that are currently considered "skilled" and make migrants leave for at least a year after three years of working.

Several regional employers and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum have pleaded with the government to reconsider the changes, and they seem to have made some ground.

Immigration is a major issue for NZ First Leader Winston Peters.
CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

Immigration is a major issue for NZ First Leader Winston Peters.

Sources have told Stuff the Government are now actively considering not implementing the new rules after negative feedback from the regions.

READ MORE: 
* Explainer: The govt's immigration changes
​* Canterbury mayors call for Government to rethink immigration changes
* Annual immigration hits fresh record
* What Winston Peters wants for NZ immigration

Prime Minister Bill English didn't rule out making changes to the proposed new rules when asked on Sunday afternoon.

"We've been consulting on some propositions we put out a few months ago and will be making final decisions about that before too long," English said.

"The whole purpose here is to get the skills we need in a growing economy that's creating 10,000 jobs a month. We need people to build the infrastructure, build the houses, to work in our growing export industries, and so our policy will make sure we will get the skills we need.

"We're listening to what's being said. We're well aware of the strong demand for jobs, and we will take that into account when finalising the policy."

STUFF.CO.NZ

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse revealed a tightening up of New Zealand's immigration system.

The changes, announced in April by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, were sold as something of a crackdown.

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Woodhouse said they were intended to help manage "the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand".

Public consultation on the changes ended in May but it appears lobbying has continued from business groups around the country.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum asked in June for the Government to reconsider the changes, asking for more than just "Auckland issues" to be considered.

"Measures designed to manage Auckland issues do not well serve our region, businesses or communities," the ten mayors said in a letter.

The region was "completely dependent" on migrant labour filling skills shortages, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The Government's proposal includes a one-off "pathway to residence" for 4000 temporary migrant workers in the South Island. Canterbury's mayors wanted to take that approach further.

Immigration has become a hot button issue in the election, with both Labour and New Zealand First calling for drastic reductions in the number of migrants.

The Green Party also called for a reduction, before backing down and apologising for contributing to a "xenophobic" moment. 

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 - Stuff

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