“Labour’s lock em down, lock em out, borrow, print and spend approach to COVID-19 has contributed to the lowest net migration level since the tail-end of the GFC,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“For the first time in close to a decade New Zealand had a provisional net loss of people, with 7,300 more people choosing to leave and build a life somewhere else than those who have come to make New Zealand their home.

“Stats NZ says the driving factor for this is our economic and labour market conditions and immigration policy compared to other countries.

“Labour’s chickens have come home to roost. By locking the economy down and borrowing $50 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.

“Now we’re seeing changes at the border but it’s too little too late, we’ve already gained the reputation of a hermit kingdom overseas and are becoming less and less attractive as a destination.

“Our productivity has grown by just 2.6 per cent since 2017, leaving us behind parts of the former Soviet Union, and 31 per cent lower than the UK. Our GDP per person is now closer to former communist countries like the Czech Republic than Australia.

“Labour has managed to sleepwalk us to a point where hard work is not rewarded and getting ahead is a fantasy. What is Labour’s plan to increase wages, expect for increasing welfare and raising the minimum wage?

“We need real change to turn the decline around and make our country the preferred destination for ideas, talent and investment.“