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Rebuild will need urgent action on immigration

PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 23 February 2023 -

Rebuild will need urgent action on immigration

The Government should move quickly to scrap immigration red tape and support businesses to bring in the skilled migrants needed to assist with the rebuild following Cyclone Gabrielle, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Rebuilding infrastructure following last week’s destruction will be a colossal effort requiring vast resources and many skilled workers.

“The building and construction sector is already short tens of thousands of workers, significantly minimising New Zealand’s capacity to rebuild our shattered infrastructure across the country.

“This Labour Government has a tendency to overcomplicate our immigration settings by making it more difficult, costly and slower – resulting in fewer migrants applying. Right now we need flexibility to be able to meet the needs of the affected regions and not a repeat of the bureaucracy that happened during Covid.

“National is calling on the Government to cut out the bureaucracy and prioritise bringing in the skilled workers required as quickly as possible. This means:

  • Expanding the Specific Purpose Work Visa to allow key firms in the building and construction sector to bring in skilled workers without delay on a three-year work visa and ensure their applications are prioritised.

  • Putting key roles related to the rebuild onto an expanded Green List so workers have a pathway to residence, and ensure their applications are prioritised.

  • Immediately scrap the planned changes to the median wage threshold this month, which would cost most businesses an extra $4,000 annually just to hire a migrant.

“Since New Zealand re-opened its borders, our immigration settings have failed to quickly bring in enough of the skilled workers we need, meaning we are not equipped for the task ahead. Currently, it takes an employer the better part of half a year to get through the red tape just to hire a migrant.

“The Government has been too slow in responding to crippling workforce shortages, and we cannot afford to wait months before desperately needed changes are made – we need urgent action now.

“These changes proposed by National could be implemented immediately and would give businesses working on the rebuild access to the skilled migrants needed without endless red tape and delays.”


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