1 Feb 2024

Strain on infrastructure and social services if net migration remains high - MBIE

8:05 pm on 1 February 2024
The first fights from across the Tasman landed in New Zealand after the border reopened on 13 April 2022.

Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

New Zealand's infrastructure and social services could be strained if net migration stays at the high levels seen in 2023, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment has warned.

Net migration of 118,800 in the year to September 2023 was an annual record.

Average monthly arrivals on work visas more than doubled since before Covid-19, increasing from 2740 a month in 2017 to 2019, to 7250 since December 2022.

The ministry's briefing to the incoming Immigration Minister Erica Stanford highlighted that unless infrastructure and services kept up with population growth, there would be increasing problems.

The briefing said the 2022 Productivity Commission Inquiry into immigration found the supply of infrastructure had been less responsive to population growth compared to the past.

It said unless New Zealand's capacities in infrastructure, core health and education services and community infrastructure keeps pace with population growth, the country would increasingly struggle to take on more migrants and maintain the quality of services.

This is one of a number of briefings to incoming ministers released on Thursday. Read more:

The ministry said it would be advising the minister in coming weeks about balancing immigration objectives with population and infrastructure decisions.

It said determining what was a "sustainable" level of long-term migration was a difficult exercise.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Erica Stanford acknowledged at a media briefing on Thursday that New Zealand was seeing "record levels" of migrant exploitation and high net migration.

Both these factors would be taken into account when looking at changing policy settings, Stanford said.

She said implementing more thorough checks on people coming in would have a flow-on effect in the tightening of incoming migration numbers.

She was still taking a "a range of advice" and would have more announced in the coming weeks, she said.

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