“Labour loves borrowing money from overseas, but they are making it near impossible for overseas investors to bring it themselves. Mismanagement of investor immigration pathways has cost New Zealand more than a billion dollars,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Since 2017, $1.5 billion in potential investment has been withdrawn from investor immigration pathways. This means people have gone to the trouble of applying to bring their money to New Zealand, but almost every one of them has eventually thought better of it and withdrawn their application.

“We can’t afford to let this sort of investment slip through our fingers. I asked the Minister of Immigration what they are doing to entice these people back to New Zealand, and ensure the system isn’t going to push future investors away. The Minister said they have no idea.

“People just don’t want to invest in New Zealand anymore. Between January 2022 and May 2022 131 wealthy people applied to bring their money to New Zealand, in the same time period for 2023, less than ten people applied.

“Some of the requirements of the new system are unnecessary, including the new requirement that applicants must be able to speak English. If someone wishes to bring in millions of dollars to New Zealand, fund a business, create dozens of jobs for locals, then the language they speak should not always be a dealbreaker, it should be something Immigration weighs up with other benefits to New Zeaanders

“The new system also adds an extra layer of bureaucracy, with NZTE put in charge of policing the visa. Immigration lawyers tell me that NZTE replies to them saying “Due to the significant amount of applications received, please expect a delay in the processing of your application”, despite them only receiving 30 applications.

“New Zealand can’t afford to shut itself off from the world. Our national brand has taken a substantial hit in recent years due to crime rates, cost of living, slow visa processing, inaccessible healthcare, and availability of housing.

“On top of all that, highly restrictive rules put up needless barriers to investment, making New Zealand poorer. According to the OECD, it’s easier to invest in Myanmar, China and Saudi Arabia than New Zealand.

“My colleague Damien Smith brought a Member’s Bill to Parliament in 2022 that would have made it easier for investors from friendly OECD countries to come to New Zealand and invest while fostering stronger trading links. The exemption wouldn’t have applied when there was a national security interest at stake, or to residential land.

“Our country is in real danger of slipping away from first world status. Former communist countries that we used to feel sorry for are overtaking us. Our wages are falling further behind countries like Australia and the UK. We can’t afford to not be accepting money from overseas investors in friendly OECD countries right now.

“The Government needs to shed the attitude of the closed-off hermit kingdom or we will carry on in comfortable decline and Kiwis will keep getting poorer. ACT wants better for Kiwis, we want to make New Zealand the preferred destination for ideas, talent and investment.”

Note to editors: Links to WPQs 16342, 16498 and 18581.

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