In another sign of New Zealand First's likely approach in the September 20 election campaign, Winston Peters' has attacked the Government's approach on allowing the parents of migrants from China to apply for family reunification visas.
Peters asked Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse about figures showing applications for family reunification visas from China dominated those from all others.
"Why is the Minister and the Government encouraging one country to use New Zealand as a retirement home with all the benefits that most New Zealanders work 40 or more years for and pay for in their taxes?," Peters said in a question in Parliament.
Woodhouse said there was a lag between a surge in migrants and a subsequent rise in applications for family reunification visas. He said the Government had also changed the rules and planned further changes to limit the number of parent category migrants.
"Chinese skilled migrants were rather more prominent under the previous Government, which was supported by that member’s party, and we are now seeing some coming in, but I note also that this Government has removed the centre of gravity provisions that would have made Chinese parents more likely to gain residence under that category. It is a much fairer system," Woodhouse said.
Peters then tabled documents from the Parliamentary Library showing applications from parents of migrants from China were larger than those from all other countries put together.
Woodhouse rejected any suggestion that China was being favoured over other countries.
"I note that since that member’s party supported the previous Government, the parent category approvals have dropped, the centre of gravity provisions have been removed, the sponsorship requirements have been increased, the family income thresholds have been increased, and I have a bill in the House that would extend the sponsorship period from 5 years to 10 years, and that member’s party is not supporting it," Woodhouse said.
"So if he is serious about this, he would support the Immigration Amendment Bill," he said.
Statistics NZ figures show India was the largest contribut of net migration in the year to April with 6,400, while China was next on 6,300 and Britain third on 5,900.
Immigration NZ states that parents of New Zealand residents for three years are entitled to apply to migrate under the parent category, but only after they have submitted an expression of interest and then been formally invited to apply. The rules were changed on July 30, 2012.
There are two tiers to the parent category, with tier one having higher priority with higher financial and income requirements than tier two.
New Zealand's Residence Programme has a 'Capped Family stream' of between 14,850 to 16,500 places between July 2011 and June 2014. The queue for tier one applicants is currently six months, while the queue under the previous parent category is five years and the queue for tier two applications is up to seven years.