12 Jun 2017

Labour would aim to reduce immigration numbers

12:05 pm on 12 June 2017

The Labour Party would make it tougher for low-skilled workers and students in low-level education courses to enter New Zealand as part of its plan to reduce new immigrant numbers by up to 30,000 a year.

Immigration / Andrew Little

Andrew Little will today release details about Labour's immigration policy. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Labour leader Andrew Little was expected to release the details of his party's immigration policy today in Auckland.

In a pre-announcement statement, Mr Little said the government was failing to manage the pressures created by record immigration levels.

"New Zealand is a vibrant modern multicultural society and we have been made all the richer for immigration.

"But National has not kept up with the infrastructure, housing, and public services we need to handle the current record level of immigration," Mr Little said.

RNZ understands Labour's immigration policy will target low-skilled worker categories.

Labour's statement said there were 90,000 young New Zealanders not in work or study, and more needed to be done to upskill and train them.

It was understood Labour would also reduce the number of students entering New Zealand for low-level education courses, and stop students being able to work for a year after their courses have finished.

Mr Little said the National government had been caught asleep at the wheel.

"Four years ago, the Budget projected net immigration of 37,000 people from 2013 to 2016; the actual figure was 173,000.

"National had no plan in place for those extra 130,000 people - they were caught napping," Mr Little said.

But Prime Minister Bill English told Morning Report Labour's plan to drastically cut immigration would stall the country's economic growth.

Mr English said businesses he had spoken to said they had vacancies that need filling immediately.

With near-full employment in some areas, it did not make sense to slash the number of people coming into the country, he said.

"We have to build the houses, we have to build the roads and the water pipes to support the houses - that's for people who are here now.

"Slashing the immigration - whatever you think of it - slashing it when you need the people to do the jobs that must be done, it doesn't make any sense."

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