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Immigration Minister must step up in Central Otago - Dean

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Strict new immigration regulations and tardy processing times are having a serious impact on Central Otago employers struggling to find staff and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean wants the Immigration Minister to step up and intervene.

"Business growth and economic development across Central Otago is being impacted by what I would describe as an immigration crisis and employers need help now to find staff.

"Central Otago is in a unique position. Unemployment is at record lows of around 2.6 percent, well below the national average of 7.1 percent, and employers are now relying more heavily on immigrant workers to keep their businesses afloat.

"The support from Immigration NZ just isn’t there and the Government urgently needs to help this region get the staff that it needs.

"Ironically as the need for workers increases Immigration NZ’s performance has deteriorated. In the three months to December last year 90 percent of work visas were processed in 73 days, but that’s ballooned out to 120 days in the three months to May this year.

"What’s worse increasing red tape and paperwork is hindering the visa application and even seeing reliable, well-trained immigrant staff being sent back home.

"One business owner has told me that ten years ago he did not employ any immigrant workers, but now at least 30 percent of his staff were from overseas and were a key part of his operation.

"Another operator said because of the area’s low unemployment securing skilled workers was almost impossible and his business was suffering as a result.

"Unfortunately I don’t believe the Government understands the challenges regions like Central Otago face. We need special support here to ease the burden employers and their prospective overseas staff are facing - and I’m calling on the Immigration Minister to step up.

"Something must be done. I want to see the system stream-lined and made more responsive to local needs and I believe special support on the ground for Central Otago employers is urgently needed to address this crisis."

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