5 Mar 2015

Rural contractors want immigration changes

2:19 pm on 5 March 2015

Rural contractors are having another go at getting the government to change immigration rules to give overseas workers easier access to jobs in the industry.

Rural Contractors New Zealand said the Government had allowed changes for the tourism industry in Queenstown and was questioning why it would not make similar moves for the contracting industry.

Immigration minister Michael Woodhouse announced temporary changes to immigration rules for employers in Queenstown to help tackle a shortage of skilled staff there.

The Rural Contractors president Steve Levett said they were calling on the Government, again, to make similar moves for contractors.

"The hoops you've got to jump through to bring guys in are tedious, expensive, and extremely time consuming, not to mention frustrating and it's those guys that come back the second and third year and fourth year in a row are the ones that you really want.

They're the guys that know the systems, they would have built up a relationship with their employers and the employers' customers. They're invaluable and they're the ones you really want to come back."

Mr Levett said those workers had the skills and knowledge specific to the job.

"The machinery that we operate is quite sophisticated and we can't just take anybody off the street so to speak to operate this gear and in the rural industry we're extremely seasonal and there's quite a pool of operators internationally that travel from country to country operating choppers and foragers, combines, planters, balers and coming into New Zealand, first time in is easy to achieve, second time is a lot harder and we just want the Government to relax the rules a wee bit for people to go through the process of bringing guys in."

Mr Levett said the industry would continue to lobby for changes that the tourism industry now had.

A spokesperson for the minister's office said there were no plans to extend it any where else.