“Immigration NZ needs to start thinking like a recruitment agency rather than a security guard, as we may be on track to lose 100,000 people in a year as the giant sucking sound gets louder” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Provisional figures for June show around 8,000 more people left than arrived in the month. Breakdowns of holiday makers versus long-term migrants are not available, but usually people coming and going on holiday would cancel out for the month. If we lost 8,000 every month, that would be nearly 100,000 people, or two per cent of the population, leaving in one year.

“We are getting close to the 1980 record exodus, when 2.5 per cent of people left the country in one year.

“Even taking the longer term trend, where more detailed data is available, makes for grim reading. For the 20 years up to June, New Zealand gained an average of 30,900 migrants. In the year to this May, New Zealand lost 10,700. The last year, migration was 41,600 worse than usual. If we lose 100,000 people in a year, the labour crisis will be dire.

"New Zealand relies on migrants to do essential work serving an ageing population, it’s no wonder that a labour crisis is affecting every aspect of life in New Zealand. On top of COVID and flu isolations, migration that usually brings 30,900 people a year has taken 10,700 away.

“Labour’s chickens have come home to roost. By locking the economy down and borrowing $60 billion they have left us with a mountain of debt and rising prices. Kiwis are finding it difficult to make ends meet and are heading offshore for a better chance of getting ahead in life.

“Meanwhile Immigration NZ is seemingly going out of its way to prevent people from coming into the country. I have been helping an RSE employer trying to bring in essential workers whose been undermined and held up at every turn. There are examples every day of Immigration NZ doing its darndest to keep people out when New Zealand needs them in.

“We have a labour crisis in nearly every area of the economy, nurses, builders, fruit pickers, pilots, accountants. Businesses are at breaking point and not enough is being done to find the workers.

“Other countries can see there’s a war for talent and they’re taking steps to raid New Zealand’s. For example, the UK recently extended the working holiday visa for Kiwis to 35 years of age.

“New Zealand needs to become an attractive and viable destination for workers to come to, one of the main barriers to achieving this is the Government’s closed border attitude.

“They turned off the immigration tap during COVID, having a devastating impact on many industries and our productivity as a nation. Now we should be opening our borders and welcoming the world back, but they’re only allowing a trickle of immigration.

“Only yesterday the Prime Minister said of nurses who didn’t want to comply with our over the top residency rules “perhaps they don’t want to be a nurse in New Zealand.” Try telling that to people inside overrun hospitals all across New Zealand begging for nurses.

“Immigration policy should be simple to navigate and welcoming so that the New Zealand economy can grow and more locals can be employed through job creation and investment. The Government has had more than two years of effectively zero immigration, yet the problems and backlogs persist.

“This is a crisis. We’re losing the war on talent and the ramifications will be felt for years to come in lost productivity and businesses unable to survive.”