Labour is promising to set aside 10% of managed isolation capacity for critical workers, should it be re-elected into government.
Under the current system, this would see 1,400 critical workers enter the country a month.
Since June 18, 1,855 critical workers, plus their dependents, have been invited to apply for a visa. This is the first hurdle they need to clear to enter the country.
Labour didn't say when it would implement its quota, but a spokesperson told interest.co.nz the aim was to put it in place "as soon as practical".
The party didn't indicate an intention to increase managed isolation capacity.
“While new evidence or technologies, or the establishment of a safe travel zone with Australia might increase capacity, until then we must be cautious about considering significant expansion of capacity, or changing our isolation model,” Labour said in its policy document.
Speaking at a Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Conference hosted by BusinessNZ, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said: “Our border is our first line of defence and we will need to maintain our strict controls at the border until the world advances effective treatments and an effective vaccination or vaccinations.”
48,000 people have entered New Zealand through managed isolation to date.
Labour is also committing to reviewing immigration criteria to enable a broader range of workers to enter New Zealand. It didn’t provide much detail around this.
The Government recently announced changes to allow additional people to come into New Zealand. This includes partners of New Zealand citizens and residents, and new border exceptions for normally resident work visa holders with strong, ongoing links to New Zealand and an existing job or business.
Here’s a press release from Labour:
- Enable a 10 percent quota for critical workers as we further develop the allocation system for managed isolation places
- Review immigration criteria to enable a broader range of workers to enter New Zealand
- New Investment Attraction Strategy to encourage targeted and high-value international investment into New Zealand
The Labour Party will manage immigration settings, border controls and access to critical skilled workers for business with a balance that will support New Zealand’s economic recovery while ensuring ongoing health protections against COVID-19.
Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern says the strict border controls New Zealand has in place for people’s entry, isolation, quarantine and testing, have been critical in limiting COVID-19’s spread.
“Labour will continue to operate strict border controls to protect New Zealanders’ health, but we know we also have to manage New Zealand’s economic need for skilled workers to help the country’s recovery,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Labour will work with business, industry and the primary sector to identify where there is genuine and justified need for critical and skilled workers, and adjust the border exception settings to ensure their entry path is streamlined and remains safe,” spokesperson for Immigration Kris Faafoi said.
“At the same time, we’ll review where further adjustments and improvements can be made to expand eligibility for people who can bring their skills and investment to New Zealand enterprise and help the recovery,” Kris Faafoi said.
“The ability to open up the country more and encourage economic opportunities, while keeping COVID contained, relies on strong government-run managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) systems,” spokesperson for Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Woods said.
“The current MIQ network has served New Zealand well and managed the safe entry of nearly 50,000 people so far.
“The system has sufficient capacity for about 14,000 people a month to enter New Zealand and while we will consider any new evidence, technology or changes to the isolation model that might allow us to grow those numbers, keeping people safe is our number one priority,” Megan Woods said.
Megan Woods said Labour is committed to further development of a managed isolation and quarantine allocation system to ensure MIQ can accommodate both New Zealand citizens and residents, as well as those bringing their critical economic input into the country.
The allocation system will ensure a majority of MIQ places are always available for returning New Zealanders, with 10 percent of capacity set aside for critical workers and other entrants, she said.
“Careful management of our border, backed by one of the strictest managed isolation and quarantine systems in the world, has seen New Zealand keep COVID-19 contained at levels that only few countries have managed to achieve,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“It has given us the opportunity to capitalise on New Zealand’s strong record and reputation globally when it comes to limiting COVID’s spread. The New Zealand Labour Party’s experience and robust border management policies will allow us to leverage opportunities to support our country’s recovery.
“We will ensure people with unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable in New Zealand can enter the country safely. We’re doing this so that we don’t hold back economic opportunities in our recovery,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Labour will also launch an Investment Attraction Strategy to encourage targeted and high-value international investment into New Zealand.
The first phase will be an increase in funding for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Innovative Partnerships programme, who work with companies to invest in New Zealand - including by locating part of their business here. The funding will be $12 million per year, split equally between NZTE and Innovative Partnerships.
Here's a policy document from Labour.