“Even with the borders open and the rest of the world moving on, New Zealand businesses are suffering from Labour’s immigration incompetence,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Newshub reports that fruit harvesting is down 15 per cent and the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers Association have described it as the worst season in years due to labour shortages.

“Somehow the labour shortage is so severe it is even harder to find workers than it was when our borders were closed and our country was locked down. Now people are choosing to leave the country but we won’t let workers in from the other direction.

“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. In stark contrast Immigration NZ is acting like a security guard at the border.

“Kiwis are suffering from a cost of living crisis and our border settings are a major contributor to this. Our productivity levels are tanking as orchards can’t get fruit pickers. Building sites can’t get builders. Hospitals can’t get nurses. Farms can’t get milkers. There are shortages of essential workers that are creating a wage-price spiral.

“The Government 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.

“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.

“The Minister needs to urgently change the settings and allow us to start welcoming in skilled migrants who will have a positive impact on New Zealanders’ lives.

“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 being unable to survive.”

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James McDowall