“The Government’s change to Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) numbers is too little too late, the sensible policy change would have been to remove the cap on the number of RSEs completely, like Australia’s scheme,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“The RSE scheme is a win-win-win for the primary industries, our pacific friends and neighbours, and New Zealand’s geopolitical aims of a more united and democratic pacific. The only problem with it is successive Governments’ insistence on capping the number of people who can come to New Zealand under the scheme.

“Capping the scheme creates untold problems. Employers fight over a ‘quota’ that must be allocated to each one. The allocation formula is not fair and leads to delays and disappointment year after year.

“Capping the scheme does not solve the problem of low standards of poor worker treatment. Besides a quantitative cap, the scheme must also have quality regulations. Regulating quality of employment and accommodation as well as the number of workers is a waste of time.

“The Government should only be concerned with upholding quality standards, allowing employers and workers to figure out how many people are needed each season.

“Today’s too little, too late announcement comes after a winter of carnage in South Auckland’s horticultural sector, with fruit and vegetables left to rot while would-be employers argue with Immigration New Zealand about the RSE scheme.

“Now, because there is still a limited number of workers allowed, albeit 3,000 higher, the sclerotic immigration department will have to allocate these places to employers, a process that will add needless delay to getting the workers here.

“The best announcement to make today would have been that New Zealand will match Australia by having an uncapped RSE scheme. If New Zealand is going to become wealthier it will require less time complying with bureaucracy, not more.”

More from

James McDowall