Today’s net migration figures from Stats NZ show that the brain drain is well and truly on and New Zealand needs real change to turn things around,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.

“Figures show that 11,000 more people are choosing to leave and build a life somewhere else than those who have come to make New Zealand their home.

“People are leaving because Labour locked the economy down and borrowed $50 billion leaving us with a mountain of debt and rising prices.

“Meanwhile, people are struggling to get into the country because of Immigration New Zealand’s archaic regulations and slow processing times making it near impossible.

“Immigration New Zealand needs to start thinking like a recruitment agency rather than a security guard. We need to immediately reopen the Skilled Migrant Category.

“We’re seeing the implications of the Government’s closed border attitude in our current labour shortage. 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.

“ACT says we need real change to shake up the immigration sector and provide immediate relief to struggling Kiwi businesses.

As an immediate fix, ACT would:

• Reopen the Skilled Migrant Category

•Provide all occupations on the ‘Green List’ a fast-track to residency by removing the ‘work to residence’ divide

• Simplify the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme by abolishing labour market tests, wage rules, and make it easier for migrants to move between accredited employers.

“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.

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

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