Taxpayers to support struggling foreign nationals until September; Govt continues to refuse to allow those who have lost their jobs access to the benefit

Taxpayers to support struggling foreign nationals until September; Govt continues to refuse to allow those who have lost their jobs access to the benefit
Winston Peters. Getty Images.

The Government is allocating $37.6 million towards supporting around 20,000 foreign nationals living in hardship in New Zealand.

It has announced the Department of Internal Affairs will administer a new programme to be delivered by a yet-to-be-named non-government organisation for three months from July 1.

The Department of Internal Affairs will essentially take over from Civil Defence, which has been giving foreign nationals food vouchers/parcels and helping them meet the costs of accommodation and utilities.

However, support provided through the new programme doesn’t look to be much greater than what is currently being provided.

Foreign nationals/those on temporary visas who “experience serious hardship”, have exhausted all other options (such as accessing savings or other assets, insurance cover, consular assistance, or help from family/friends), and can’t “immediately” return home, will qualify for:

  • food and household goods required to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • blankets, hot water bottles and basic clothing to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • over-the-counter medication to meet urgent and immediate needs
  • accommodation (including rent, boarding costs and rent arrears)
  • utilities (electricity, gas). Excludes internet and broadband connection and plans
  • if required, pre-paid phone cards to enable emergency communication and communication with consulate/embassy
  • petrol/travel (limited to travel required to shift to new location for employment purposes or to airport to leave New Zealand).

Cash payments won’t be offered.

Foreign nationals who have lost their jobs in New Zealand can’t get Jobseeker Support nor the new $490/week COVID Income Relief Payment.

Despite Queenstown tourism businesses that typically employ a number of foreign nationals doing it tough, Otago and Southland are the regions that have experienced the smallest increases in the number of people on Jobseeker Support during the COVID-19 crisis, in the country.

In Otago, there were only 1438 more people on Jobseeker Support as at June 5 than there was as at January 3.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said foreign nationals should try to depart New Zealand as soon as possible if they can’t support themselves, and should contact their embassy, high commission or consulate for assistance in the first instance.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to work closely with foreign missions to help them provide consular support for their citizens who remain in New Zealand,” he said.

“Nearly 60,000 foreign nationals have departed New Zealand since March.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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43 Comments

11
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It's time for Peters to resign. He has been shouting loudest in order to open our borders. We today have two border cases of Covid despite our best efforts (up to now). So, Peters has proved himself seriously incompetent and a danger to the health of the nation.
I would call on all journalists to ignore anything he says. He's not worth the time and effort. Ignore him.

I am not a big fan of Peters but we cannot have our border closed forever.

I dunno, if Lees-Galloway was in charge of this he'd be putting all the temporary visa holders on benefits.

They leave it up to Peters to pass on the "unkind" message that they should try to get back to their home countries.

26
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Would it not be more viable to purchase them a plane ticket instead of announcing more funding in 3 months. Air NZ might have a plane or two lying around, might even double their turnover for this year and who knows what it would do to their share price.

Problem I assume is that it might be viable to say put a plane on to take all South Americans to a single destination there, but that country might not accept them, particularly if they aren't citizens. They'd likely have to have onward tickets to wherever they come from. And that's my guess as to why we are working with/through all the consulates.

11
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Kate , we need to distinguish between tourists who have done casual work and people who have come here on legal work visa's like Chefs , tourist pilots , hotel managers , kitchen hands , panel beaters , chippies etc who have been made redundant.

When we really needed them , we encouraged them to come here , we gave them work visa's to work and we taxed them .......... they pay tax like you and I .

Now we have a problem and we just ignore them ?

Its really unfair , we take their taxes but leave them high and dry when it suits us .

Then we complain when Australia does it to Kiwis .

We are better than that

11
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They were to fill gaps. But the gaps are no longer there

"We" didn't get a say in the matter. Or we thought we did then the government turned around and ignored one of their campaign promises. Anyway... that's the risk of upping and leaving to another country. Things don't always work out and you have to go home and try again. They are work visas - not residency or citizenship. Thankfully we're not as loose handing those out as we are work visas. We are being as compassionate as we should here in giving any aid.

The whole purpose of temporary work permits is to fill temporary gaps. Then you either become permanent or you leave. It's the same for kiwis working overseas anywhere. Australia is a special case due to SCV.

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Getting them home safely was genuine, utilising Air NZ.......not so much.

Are they any/many o/seas carriers still flying into AKL?

yes they can fly out on Singapore as long as they use the Singapore network they can transit through Singapore
https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/sg/travel-info/transit-through-singapore
https://www.singaporeair.com/saar5/pdf/media-centre/flightschedule-junju...

20
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If I was a tourist and getting all this free stuff I would never leave. The list of free stuff is massive and then at the end it says 'cash payments won't be offered', like they are being tough? What a woke joke this country is becoming. We are being taken for mugs.

@foreign buyer .......... what about people who are here on long term ( say 2 year) work visa's ....they have been working according to their visa's , and paying tax like you and I ?

They should be treated equally

16
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@Boatman.... Sometimes life is not fair. They came here for themselves, to have fun, enjoy NZ, not to better our society. It is unfortunate what has happened, but it has happened. We need to look after our own people who are going to be struggling much more in the coming months. Our economy is in major trouble and it is really small. Sometimes we have to be tough and take the utilitarian position, which this time, means removing any drains to our support system that could be used elsewhere. We need to pay Air NZ to take these people home ASAP then charge them for the flight if they want to come back at a later date.

Mate , so dont ever complain again about how Kiwi workers are treated by Australia when they lose their jobs.

I always regarded us as above that , we treat people fairly here , and with compassion and kindness .................or so I thought .

11
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Okay... Deal

Australia is different due to bilateral agreements with NZ, with some kiwis living in Australia on SCV for many years without a clear path towards becoming permanent residents or citizens. It is fair for temporary visa holders to return to their country of origin if there is no longer a demand for them locally. That's the name of the game and everyone who applies for a temporary visa knows that.

16
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FB I have heard multiple groups of people in Queenstown openly laughing about how NZers are paying for their "vacation". I have to admit I would find it funny too if I was young and a foreign government was hooking me up.

For what it is worth every person I have talked to that is getting this aid has actually never worked here at all. I'm talking to tenants of a landlord who mass rents rooms and I guess they had something of a shift change of immigrants and they all have expenses paid for and zero taxes paid here. I do get that some people have been here for a long time as well but there is a lot of egregious counter examples.

I'm also surprised by the general "f@#k you" vibe of the majority of the migrant workers here. In work settings they are mostly polite but outside of their employment courtesy seems to be absent.

THATS BLOODY UNFAIR ON FOREIGN WORKERS WHO ARE HERE ON PROPER WORK VISAS !

They have been working here legally , often doing work we dont want to do , cant do or are too lazy to do , adding to our GDP , paying TAXES such as PAYE and GST just like the rest of us .

We were quite happy to take their taxes from them , but now we are in trouble they must fend for themselves.

This not not fair , we should treat them equally and kindly

Most are temporary work visas I think. From what I've read, many traveled here on a visitors visa - got unskilled jobs in hospitality on temporary work visas to work with a specific employer for a specified period of time (and those might have been subject to extensions). That employer got them the temp visa based on providing proof that they had advertised locally and got no applications from NZers. The temp work visa is attached to the employer, and extension subject to there being no NZers around to take the job.

I think we might have relaxed the conditional requirement for work with a specific employer, but the rules regarding no NZers willing/able to take the job still stands.

Kate , you are wrong .............. many of these foreign visa holders got jobs here during the tourist boom , they came here at their own expense and work really hard .

Our Companies ran adverts for them in overseas media , and arranged visa's for chefs and other skilled workers ( not all in Hospitality )

Many dont earn the $80,000 per annum needed to get Permanent Residence , BUT we really needed them at the time , so we handed out work visa's

Now we have a problem , not caused by them , and they are disposable ?

We have banged on for years about Aussies doing this exact same thing to Kiwis in Aussie .

Now the ill - fitting shoe is on the other foot

15
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I think the reason we bang on about Kiwis in Aussie is because they didn't enter a work visa with a time-limited period to it - they just have the right to work there provided they are a NZ citizen or permanent resident. And we offer Aussies working on the same basis here in NZ access to our education and welfare system. It's a different situation altogether.

17
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When I worked overseas, I evaluated the risks, and took them on voluntarily. I had to show funds to support myself in an emergency (medical, loss of income, etc...) before entering the country, I had to have insurance, I made plans with my family at home, I registered with the local embassy, and I developed a local support network. I acted responsibly, saved my pay, and made sure I always had an emergency plan i.e. how to get home. I paid tax overseas, and got no super, no healthcare, and no benefits. It never bothered me, I understood what it meant to be a "Citizen"

I have many friends overseas, Some are highly skilled, some are not. But regardless, all of them have plans. Some of them came home (Plan B), but most stayed overseas. None of them are expecting a handout from their host country.

How is it, all these "highly skilled" people coming in to NZ have no plans, no support, and no real ability to look after themselves?

"Our Companies ran adverts for them in overseas media , and arranged visa's for chefs and other skilled workers ( not all in Hospitality )"

So take it up with the companies.

"Many dont earn the $80,000 per annum needed to get Permanent Residence , BUT we really needed them at the time , so we handed out work visa's"

Did we need them? or were the companies to cheap to invest in, and train locals?

"Now we have a problem , not caused by them , and they are disposable ?"

As a NZ taxpayer, it is clear we are unable to look after our own citizens. Charity begins at home. Every NZ dollar going to a foreign national, is a NZ dollar not going to a poor kiwi kid, struggling for a future due to lack of food, clothing, or a safe home.

"We have banged on for years about Aussies doing this exact same thing to Kiwis in Aussie ."

No, a limited minority of people have banged on about Kiwi's in aussie. Do not confuse Mainstream media for Most people's opinion.

10
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Well said.

11
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looks like they werent the essential workers ,as asserted by the employers, who abandoned them after all.

Wow think of POTS AND BLACK KETTLES !

Dont ever complain about Australia's treatment of Kiwis LIVING , WORKING AND PAYING TAX there , ever again !

Its not just Queenstown ......... a certain hotel chain in Auckland has dozens of foreign nationals they arranged work visas for , they encouraged them to come here .

They are all going to be redundant by the end of June

NZIS issued them work visa's , they have been doing the swing shifts and all those awful jobs that Kiwis dont want to do .

Now we discard them ?

Dont complain when Aussies treat Kiwis this way

14
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Is it that Kiwis don't want to do the work or is it that employers want somebody to do the work for peanuts, somebody who is scared of losing the job as they would lose their visa? Bosses love this type of worker as it gives them total power!!!

Thats not the point !

The point is that we openly encouraged inward immigration , handing out long -term work visas like confetti , teachers , medical staff and nurses , chefs ............ it was official policy both Labour under Clark and National , we embraced migrants as no other............[ Come on, Boatman. You know full well that casual racism is not allowed here. Don't do it. Ed ].............. and we have to live with some consequences of our policies .

We cant just change with the wind or when it suits us

16
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I mean I understand what you are saying and I do feel for the people that have immigrated and contributed but when you say "we openly encouraged inward immigration"... That decision was made for us and work visas quickly became a piss take. If the government didn't allow it to become a free-for-all and were so sloppy with policy then I think we would all be a little more open to looking after these work visas. As it stands I'm fed up with these immigration decisions made with no consultation and aggrieved at having to fork out tax-payer money to support them when our debt is already rocketing.

15
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We? I don't remember approving all those visas. In fact I wasn't even consulted. Come to think of it, I don't remember even voting to encourage it.

that is the point none of us voted for it, in fact many of us looked at parties to vote for to to stop it but they all fell head over heels to encourage a high immigration regime with work towards PR at levels that are the highest in the developed world, and we have seen and read all the rorting going on to bring people in and make money off it.
it harsh but we need two things a reset, and a tightening of the rules to lower the levels and make sure the pathway is robust

“Slitty eyed” Really? I mean I knew Greenhithe had its problems (see Housework’s) but I didn’t think bigotry was one of them.

Agree. That sort of casual racism is completely unacceptable here. A bad mistake.

15
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Thing is, work visas are not offers of permanent residency. You seem to be suggesting they are. They aren't here - and they aren't in any country that I know of.

This seems to be the trap the US fell into decades ago. I recall going back to visit my Mum in the 80s who had retired to Florida. She was volunteering reading to children at a village school for temporary fruit pickers. I was surprised their families had been allowed into the US, given the pickers were only there for about half the year. I recall saying what a bad idea that was. Now the problem of illegal and overstayer non-residents is well and truly beyond fixing.

Government paying the rent of even more landlords... hopefully they are negotiating large discounts to rent.

From a rip off youth hostel dormitory to a fully paid for 4 or 5 star hotel with free everything on the NZ tax payer. Would you leave?

Right time to build more Kiwibuild homes to house these people for the next 2 decades or so ?

What type of insurance these temporary migrants carry, when they come and in later when they get those work permits ? Do the employers who sponsor them have any responsibility for their welfare in tough times like these ? May be the visas should have specific conditions attached to them protect NZ tax payers ?
We seem to be geting soft, softer and softest very quickly.

Sounds like the same insurance investors have had for mortgage / income protection.

Queenstown seems to be ripping off the tax payers in the rest of Aotearoa. Can we cede it to the Aussies ?

Meanwhile we still hiring people from UK, South Africa, etc doing interviews via Skype. NZ residents and Citizens being laid off at various positions everyday. Immigration will grant visas while no need to check if we have the skillset in NZ and job could have gone to a resident here. Our people will never get the experience if the opportunities go to foreigners. I am not anti immigration being but this is a time to look after our own residents. We are in a crises and there may be worse to come. Exceptions being doctors, medical staff. Anyone else, Winston needs to put his "NO" sign up