19 Nov 2011

Labour pledge to investigate immigration scams

7:17 pm on 19 November 2011

The Labour Party says if elected, it would investigate immigration scams that target people in the Pacific community.

The party launched its policies for the Pacific Island community at the North Shore Pasifika Festival in Northcote, Auckland, on Saturday.

Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su'a William Sio says there are many people in the Pacific community who are overstayers in New Zealand and the target of immigration scams.


Mr Sio says Labour will look at the reasons why there are a continuing number of these scams and try to curtail them. He says such action will encourage Pacific people illegally living in New Zealand to legalise their status.

"We're also going to undertake a review of the Pacific quota, as well as the Samoan quota system, to try and align those opportunities with real, genuine jobs to put an end to bogus work permits."

Labour says Pasifika people have been particularly hard-hit during National's three years in government. It says unemployment in the community has doubled and at 14.4% is more than twice the national rate of 6.6%, while 41% of Pasifika people aged 15 to 19 are out of work.

Labour says if elected, it would provide an additional 5000 fees-free training places for 16 and 17-year-olds over three years, including 1000 places with a Pasifika mentoring element. The party would also create an additional 10,000 new apprenticeships and every at-risk 15 to 19-year-old will either be in skilled training or the workforce.

But National's Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson says his party has focused very hard on the issues that matter to Pacific people, such as education and health.

Peseta Sam Lotu-liga says he expects unemployment in the Pacific community to come down as new jobs are created in the next four years.

Education and health

Labour says educational achievement would be a priority. If elected, it says it would reverse funding cuts to early childhood education, reinstate the policy of 100% qualified staff in all teacher-led services, and support Pacific literacy, research, and bilingualism by restoring the Pacific Education Plan.

Su'a William Sio says Labour would extend free access to after-hours medical services, meaning 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, free access to healthcare for all children aged under six.

Labour has already announced policies it says will ease the pressure on middle- and low-income families, such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 hour, making the first $5000 a person earns per year tax-free, and taking the goods and services tax (GST) off fresh fruit and vegetables. It says it would also crack down on loan sharks.