“ACT would dump Labour’s ‘once in a generation’ immigration reset. Immigration reform may be needed in the future, but right now we need certainty,” say ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall and Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“ACT would signal a return to the pre-COVID immigration settings as soon as public health conditions allow,” says Dr McDowall.

“With the border closed, we would have expected Immigration New Zealand to improve its systems, clear backlogs, process relevant visas and prepare for a gradual reopening for when it was safe to do so.

“Instead, the system has stalled, waiting for the Government’s mysterious “once in a generation” immigration reset.

“The blind ideology of this Government is hurting families, business owners and our agriculture sector. It can’t continue.

“Labour politicians seem to believe that if they keep the borders closed it will drive up wages and get more Kiwis into work. It doesn’t work that way and in the meantime businesses are going to the wall, fruit has been left to rot on the ground, trees are unpruned, and families are separated.

“ACT would speed up residency for highly skilled persons by unfreezing the EOI queue immediately, and by resuming applications for those offshore.

“New Zealanders need certainty from their Government. Businesses, farmers and growers need to bring in the skills to grow, or in some cases even continue,” says Mr Cameron.

“That means Immigration New Zealand needs to be preparing for a return to normalcy. As New Zealand, and the world, becomes vaccinated, the opportunity to allow for greater flexibility at the border will increase.

“As a farmer, I know first-hand the struggles our rural sector is facing. We can’t get enough milkers, pickers, or pruners.

“ACT is committed to giving business and our agriculture sector certainty over skills shortages by returning to pre-COVID immigration settings when public health conditions allow for it.”