Little wants settings for work visas reviewed so low-skilled migrants are not taking jobs unemployed young locals could fill; attacks Key over comments workers 'on drugs and lazy'; wants lower residency target; Labour also wants export education inquiry

Little wants settings for work visas reviewed so low-skilled migrants are not taking jobs unemployed young locals could fill; attacks Key over comments workers 'on drugs and lazy'; wants lower residency target; Labour also wants export education inquiry
Labour Leader Andrew Little speaking to reporters in Parliament on July 5, 2016. Photo by Lynn Grieveson for Hive News.

By Bernard Hickey

Labour Leader Andrew Little has called for a review of migration settings governing the arrival of temporary low skilled workers, pointing to the arrival of 6,500 labourers when there were 15,000 unemployed labourers in New Zealand and over 70,000 young people who were either not in work, education or training.

He also said Labour wanted the target for new permanent residents, which is currently set at around 45,000 to 50,000 per year, to be lowered. It is currently being reviewed by the Government, which has said it is unlikely to change.

Little also criticised Prime Minister John Key's comments yesterday that employers were saying they had to use foreign workers because local unemployed people had problems with drugs, health issues, poor skills or lived in the wrong place.

"I've been pretty clear for some time now that issuing work visas for categories of occupations where there are unemployed New Zealanders just doesn't add up and we want to review the immigration system so there is a better matching of genuine skills and needs, not just taking anybody when we have unemployed New Zealanders in many cateogories," Little said told reporters in Parliament.

His comments follows calls for a review of the migration settings, an in particular the skills mix of temporary migrants, from a range of business leaders, including the Reserve Bank, ANZ, Harcourts and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

"When you've got 15,000 New Zealanders saying that they are unemployed labourers and you've issued 6,500 work visas to people to come here to do labouring work, that is a mis-match that we have got to get right," he said.

Little, however, reaffirmed his support for the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, which allows certified employers to bring in up to 9,500 workers a year from the Pacific Islands to pick fruit and grapes. It was launched in April 2007 with a cap of 5,000 workers under the then Labour Government led by Helen Clark when unemployment was under 4%, but the cap was lifted to 8,000 in October 2008 and was lifted again in 2014 from 8,000 to 9,000, and then again from 9,000 to 9,500 in December last year.

'They're not drugged and lazy'

Little said he was more focused on permanent and secure work.

"The reality is we have got more than 70,000 young people not in education, employment or training. Actually what they are looking for is longer term, more secure work," Little said.

"I don't buy the argument that there are younger people who are out of work because they are drugged and lazy. Our social conscience dictates that we make it a priority to get young people into work and, for those who have got a few rough edges on them, we go the extra mile, make the extra effort to get them into work," he said.

"Let's not confuse what's happening there with what we also know is happening with a whole heap of young people who some employers and clearly the Government - Bill English and John Key now - have written off either as 'pretty damn hopeless' or 'drugged and lazy' as an excuse for them not making the extra effort for getting them into work."

Little referred to employers and institutions that were going the extra mile, picking up workers from their homes, making sure they were fed and building up work habits.

'And they're not paying enough'

"There is no question that, for some in the industry who are complaining they can't get the right New Zealander, they are actually not paying very much or they are not paying enough and that's not right either. And we have got to fix that as well," Little said.

He agreed that some employers were profiteering from cheap foreign labour.

"I think there are some employers who make a habit of taking labour they know they can get away with, paying a cheap rate of labour to, we know from the stories coming out of, for example, Marlborough and Blenheim in particular, that this is happening and it is wrong and it's got to stop," he said.

Little said he had yet to find a young person who did not want good, meaningful work.

"I don't accept the view that the dole is too much. No-one gets rich on the dole," he said.

He rejected the idea that work visas for less skilled workers could be cancelled.

"What I have said is, we need to review our immigration system to make sure we are not getting what, on the face of it, a massive mismatch. I would review the system to make sure there isn't that mismatch. When you look at the number of visas, you have to say how can you justify 6,500 work visas for labouring work when you have got 15,000 unemployed labourers in New Zealand. It's actually applying sensible immigration policy and practice and when you review it you see what's justified and what's not, and when it's not justified you don't issue those visas," he said.

Little said he would include categories such as chefs, tour guides, aged care workers, dairy farm workers in that review.

'Reduce the permanent residency target'

Little said the Government was right to review its permanent residency target of around 45,000 to 50,000 per year. 

"I notice Michael Woodhouse says he doesn't expect anything to change. I think, given the net inflow of people and particularly with the work visas that are being issued covering occupational classes of people unemployed in New Zealand, I would be surprised if that number didn't reduce. I would expect it to reduce," he said.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has said he wants the target reduced to between 7,000 to 15,000 per year.

Little said he did not have a particular number in mind.

Inquiry into export education needed

Little also said an inquiry into fraud and migrant abuse associated with the export education industry was necessary.

"The reality is that many of those students are turning up to pretty shoddy jobs, often being paid less than the minimum hourly rate, often in a climate of fear, and therefore being exploited," he said.

"We cannot allow that to continue, and so we have got to look at that system to see whether or not, because we see solid gold at the end of the student visa rainbow, we have kind of over egged the pudding on that policy and whether we need to cut that back. It's not right that we have people coming here who are facing exploitative conditions in New Zealand."

Little said a Labour Government would also look at the numbers of overseas arriving, and the extent of their work rights.

"The numbers that come here: can we fulfil the promise that we effectively make that if you come here you can get the 20 hours a week and a pathway to residency? If we can't fulfil that promise, then we shouldn't be issuing the number of those sort of student visas that we presently are," he said.

"Given the stories that we are now hearing and even from the students now coming forward, and given the volume and rapid increase in the number of student visas being issued in the last two or three years, I think it is timely to do an inquiry, to review it to see whether the objectives are being met. When you hear stories of exploitation and students being ripped off and dodgy practices in their home countries, I then I would say we have a volume of student visas being issued where we can't manage the quality of them."

Here are the top 20 occupations for work visas in the year to June 30, 2016 year (with numbers in brackets):

  1. Tour Guide (6,248)
  2. Chef (4,218)
  3. Dairy Cattle Farmer (2,253)
  4. Retail Manager (General) (2,369)
  5. Cafe or restaurant manager (2,045)
  6. Carpenter (1,507)
  7. Retail Supervisor (1,693)
  8. Student (1,157)
  9. Aged or disabled carer (1,005)
  10. Deck hand (895)
  11. Dairy Cattle Farm worker (876)
  12. Software engineer (716)
  13. University Lecturer (680)
  14. Cook (543)
  15. Registered Nurse (aged care) (509)
  16. ICT Support Technicians (494)
  17. Developer Programmer (489)
  18. Entertainer or Variety artist (465)
  19. Office Manager (456)
  20. Waiter (452)

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that is one can of worms once open will be hard to close not to mention the loss of reputation around the world
"Little also said an inquiry into fraud and migrant abuse associated with the export education industry was necessary."


this is just getting too easy for labour. They have the govt over a barrel here, like with the housing crisis, a connected issue

Thing is... you can have them over a barrel, but it doesn't mean much if you are impotent.

The foundation of NZ politics: just wait and eventually your opponents fail so badly that you again get a shot at power. Everything gets forgotten and forgiven, history is rewritten, and the overall decline in standards, public service and accountability continues

No comment on the Rory's that let residency be achieved far to easily, by dubious qualifications and dubious employer guarantees, plus the money backed entry with $1.5 and $10.0 and the rolling of extended family into the mix.
Clobber the lot and include those in the under 10000 ( or whatever lower number) we agree to.
Stop them all that want to settle in Auckland ( make it a no settle area)

Excellent ... !! all good - let's do the enquiries - that is what the opposition is for - keep the Gov at check - good on Mr Little.

Just not sure about this
"There is no question that, for some in the industry who are complaining they can't get the right New Zealander, they are actually not paying very much or they are not paying enough and that's not right either. And we have got to fix that as well,"

Will be interesting to see how he is going to fix that one !!

The only way is to raise the minimum wage. Because that is what most of those employers will be paying.

That sounds like: "lets give more jobs to machines"


I'd also like to hear him say they will reverse the govt's including residential property in the investor category for prospective immigrants, although, frankly I'd like to see the whole buying your way into NZ scuttled. But at least Labour, when they did instigate this, had the decency to exclude residency property from it.

Still waiting for solid evidence of this very mysterious category that exists despite contrary evidence from the Immigration NZ. Don't let facts get into your way though.

This do ya? Make sure you read all the way to end for your evidence oops I see somehow I managed not to paste this to my comment

•Residential property is to be included as an acceptable investment. Safeguards are required so that residential property investments create economic growth and increase the total housing stock available to New Zealanders.
and what are these safeguards, they only put the rent up twice a year.
if it was only new builds I would say ok, otherwise its bad policy

Residential property development

We'll consider a residential property development is an acceptable investment if it meets all of the following criteria:

it's a new development, and not a renovation or extension to an existing residential property
the development has the necessary approvals and consents
the purpose of the development is to make a commercial return on the open market - it must not be for you, your family or friends to live in.
You can't include the costs of any regulatory approvals or consents in your investment funds.

I am tired of going through this non-debate. Learn to read, learn to process details, learn to analyse and after you complete the following, learn to think and accept that you are wrong. On the basis of people like you, I think NZ is generally better off with immigrants.

Not sure what else to say. I thought it was pretty clear to anyone with half a brain and who bother to read. And this is not even the first time your ignorant comment has come up.

Waiting for Labour to fritter away this golden opportunity with some wishy washy comments and no firm policy plans..letting Key get away once more. Otherwise Key won't be so bold to take the employers' side to state that many Kiwis are lazy, drugged and don't want to work.

Don't you mean waiting for our biased main stream media to spin it nationals way again like they always do?
Our media is so business and right wing biased they go to extreme lengths to try to discredit the left wing parties.

Let the election year come near and Jhon Key will introduce land tax on overseas buyer as is just playing with time and delaying it to please his Cinese masters.

Labour and Winston Peter has to just talk right things as John Key has lost the plot in his arrogance and loyalty to Chinese.


JK is more likely to put a land tax on local buyers, with an exemption for Chinese

How True. Can never underesitmate loyalty of John Key to Chinese :)

Or maybe John Cleese to the Chinese give us the keys please?

Give him another term and will prove you correct. Have no doubts.


Than be prepared for another referandum from John Key : Should we call our country New Zealand or Chinaland.

society is made up of all types of people. A society can't solve it's problems by sweeping the unemployed under the mat and finding motivated individuals offshore. The same goes for 60 year old men who find a cute 30 year old Filipino or Russian when they could easily find a nice 60 year old New Zealand lady. pretty soon there will be numerous trips to see the family, mum will need a hearing aid and false teeth etc, etc.

Good votes ladies, there are quite a few upsides apparently for some out there, the single young Asian women migrating here. Just look at the odd couples walking the swankiest shopping streets of Auckland...Asian guys with kiwi girlfriends, Middle aged men with 20 something asian gf's, its a whole DNA swap in the making.

Corin Dann
“With all the pressure put on housing put on infrastructure put on schools
can you point to any evidence that long term migration lifts our productivity rate or lifts our exports or makes us more competitive as a country”

“Yes, absolutely. And there was a recent Berl report that came out last month that showed that there was a very strong and positive contribution being made by migrants (temproary and permanent) and
and that includes taking into account health education and social services. So it’s pretty unequivocal, it’s important to keep in mind that we do have a New Zealanders first policy and when it comes to things like housing supply, it’s important that we get that right. But the contribution to our economy by migration is overwhelmingly positive.”

The study does not cover all components of the government accounts. On the revenue side we have only
captured income tax, GST and excise duty payments; while on the expenditure side we have only included
education, health care, superannuation, benefits, and student allowance payments. These revenue and
expenditure items have been included as they can be clearly matched to a population group or household, migrant or otherwise. Revenue from company tax, or expenditure on areas such as defence, police and conservation are not included, as these cannot be easily or clearly allocated to a population group or household.
The recent migrants group had an older age profile than that of new migrants, with only 11 percent of this group aged under 15 in 2013 compared to 20 percent of new migrants and 24 percent of the New Zealand-born population. However, this migrant group is likely to have a larger proportion of children born in New Zealand (and therefore not counted as migrants) than the new migrant group.
Fiscal Impacts of Immigration in 2013
July 2016

Well, I turned the TV on last night to check out a new Freeview channel.....waste of time, so that will be it for another few months.....happened to catch part of the Border Patrol program featuring incoming at Auckland Customs and MPI.....
Judging by the income generated by fining the passengers who are caught lying through their teeth about foods, cigarettes and plant matter (complete with foreign crawly critters), at the rate of $400 a pop plus duty payable on the fags, we should be raking it in.

From Woodhouse's "unequivocal" Berl Report
"For the New Zealand-born population there have been government expenditure increases in all areas except for work and income benefits, where expenditure has declined. The largest government expenditure increases have come from education, health and superannuation. For education the increase has come mainly from early childhood education."

So all the costs associated with migrants children are expenditures on New Zealanders (thereby weighting the net fiscal effect in favour of the migrant)?

As long as we have a welfare state, the incumbent population will always subsidise relatively low(er) skilled immigration.
Looking at the top 10 immigrant categories - barring 1 or 2, we aren't getting skilled immigration.

If resources are limited, as they always are, the new people arriving will likely displace the less capable. BC commented the other day why immigrants were good for a society which largely described how they were fresher, more innovative, worked harder (longer for less), had new and better ideas and are more ambitious....or something like that. You don't have to be a genius to predict that certain segments of society will be further disadvantaged in this scenario.

The immigrant often has nothing to lose as the country they left behind had many limitations........

I think in NZ we have a limited view of what causes us to have disadvantaged me the biggest disadvantage to any human being is the one where they think they are simply not good enough so they lack the self confidence which affects everything.......we need to get to the root of who the hell is screwing with these people's heads and tipping them over making them disadvantaged!!!

Often these people give up before they even begin. The solution is for white, middle-class, males to rise to the challenge. Every one of us should be a mentor to a disadvantaged person. Perhaps form an order somewhat like Templar Knights, be celibate and dedicate our lives to this cause...

John Key spoke some truth and it hurt a Little lol.

It it was true and he did actually ever speak the truth, it would surprise not just a little, but a lot.

WINZ cuts benefits for job seekers that don't abide by certain rules.


Andrew Little is turning out to be a very reasoned, sensible, no-spin sort of political leader. Plenty of balance in his thoughts and comments.

I just hope they start thinking about benefit abatement and the negative effect that has on the willingness of the unemployed and underemployed to accept casual/temporary/seasonal work. Scrap the abatement schedule and the availability of local seasonal workers would improve immediately ... and in most cases being local, they would already having housing sorted.

So many of our problems are to me quite simple. And think what would be saved if WINZ did not have to administer the cumbersome system that benefit abatement is.

Perhaps we could apply Gareth Morgan's deemed rate instead and deem each individual to be earning at 75% of the median rate ( I think in Gareth's plan this rate is open to tweaking ) and reduce the base benefit by a commensurate amount. There would no longer be a need for any abatement regime.

A benefit system with no abatement sounds like a universal allowance.


from the apple industry you are employed through a contractor you turn up for work and have to work on a public holiday and you say hey shouldn't we be getting extra money it is our right after all then the apple orchard says to your contractor we don't want that one back so the contractor has no work for you and you get no pay.

I have no time for all these low paying industries all they want is subsidies from everyone else. the wages they pay should allow someone to live in New Zealand. If they can't find anyone then they should put up their wages and if their business can't survive by paying actual wages then they shouldn't be in business.

Working for families for instance is just a subsidy for low paying business's who perhaps shouldn't be in business.

So .... " if their business can't survive by paying actual wages then they shouldn't be in business" ... Haha, as simple as that !!
Good on you mate, you made my day !!

It's not funny at all. Employer subsidies are a big sickness of our economy.

If so then let's scrap the subsidy

"Working for families for instance is just a subsidy for low paying business's who perhaps shouldn't be in business".
Right on the money Irreversiblechaos, most of the "benefit" programs are a subsidy in disguise, and a benefit only to business. It's the only way many businesses can survive in New Zealand's economic environment under the mantra of export based over-production. We should stop all "benefits", which are subsidies to bloated and inefficient businesses, which provide no benefit at all to the general public, and replace them with decent salaries such that young people can make a living without having to emigrate 'across the ditch'. The first "benefit" I would suspend would be ministerial pay packets and all ministerial pet projects, which are in reality a way to get a payoff for the politician's retirement account.The second subsidy I would stop is education, and replace it with an apprenticeship program. As it stands today we have enough professional immigrants, doctors and engineers, driving a cab in Auckland because they can't get a decent paying job. Lastly, I would cut the fuel tax payed at the pump by the general public, thus producing a "wealth effect" proportional to the subsidies being removed. There are many ways to make our economy lean and efficient without having to expose our people to the shame and disgrace economic slavery brings about through the "benefit" program. It's no benefit at all!

Well I was in, say Queenstown the other day, looking for a hair dresser and I couldn't find any for example cos they couldn't find a qualified one cos, well....there's no newzilander hairdressers in Queenstown for example...

you have a choice of 77 jobs as a hairdresser throughout the whole of NZ, only one needed in queenstown must be shaggy hair all over the place.
guess we cant train people to keep up with demand quick import some

It happens to all governments after a while - they stop seeing the obvious and get sulky if anyone disagrees with their policies. Normally John Key knows where a sizable majority sits on an issue and moves accordingly. However, on housing and immigration Key's government is in total denial and moving further away from the majority of NZers. It's not too late for them turn this around (1 year to election) in part because Labour is still focused on minority issues which means they can't win elections and in part they have not painted themselves into a corner just yet. A few key policies on immigration and housing will turn it.

Arbeit macht frei?

Of the top-20 visa categories, let's see what skill level is needed (IMHO, not to be taken as an education guide...)

Tour Guide (6,248) Fluent in Mandarin, Spanish, German and the wilder varieties of Provincial English
Chef (4,218) Ability to flip a burger and boil an egg
Dairy Cattle Farmer (2,253) Ability to trudge uncomplainingly behind 500 coos in the pouring rain
Retail Manager (General) (2,369) Ability to sit in a corner office
Cafe or restaurant manager (2,045) Ability to take reservations
Carpenter (1,507) Oh, here's one where Real Qualifications and a good track record is actually needed!
Retail Supervisor (1,693) See Retail Manager
Student (1,157) Ability to have convincingly forged documentation
Aged or disabled carer (1,005) Ability to walk quietly and be on yer feet all day
Deck hand (895) Ability to stand more or less upright on a deck which is pitching, rolling, surging, yawing, heaving and swaying, for 24-36 hours straight when required. Read 'Trawler', Redmond O'Hanlon.
Dairy Cattle Farm worker (876) See Cattle Farm Manager above.
Software engineer (716) Yes, another one where actual competence and definite Quals needed.
University Lecturer (680) Ability to stay outta trouble and publish two papers a year in respected journals (like Readers' Digest)
Cook (543) Ability to boil water
Registered Nurse (aged care) (509) Whoa! Quals needed, plus lack of nasal sensitivity.
ICT Support Technicians (494) More quals needed - them electrons take a Lotta Herding
Developer Programmer (489) Quals yes, social skills, no
Entertainer or Variety artist (465) Ability to amuse a crowd (try amusing Customs Officers as a warm-up).
Office Manager (456) Ability to warm a chair to 38 degrees celsius
Waiter (452) Ability to walk and chew gum

There! Sorted.

Next problem?

45,000 immigrants per year is still far too many. It equates to 1% of our population. My research clearly shows that there is a negative correlation between population growth and GDP growth rate per capita. The largest problems in the world mostly relate to over population.
Global warming
Resource limitations
Food limitations
Mass migration
Unless we are going to destroy this world we have to face this and learn to manage ourselves with a diminishing population for a considerable time. As I said, the countries with low or negative population growth are doing very well economically in fact better than the rest so we do not need to be scared and there is no need for wholesale immigration. The only people with anything to gain from long term population growth are the very wealthy to 0.1%. Little's statement reveals Labour as just a watered down version of National and will push voters to NZ First.
I would not be surprised if the panic in National over housing that is just starting to become evident, results in National reducing immigration to even lower levels, because the consequences of the housing shortage is going to get an lot worse before the next election.

Any body else watch Nigel Latte’s show last night on immigration?

I confess it was very different from what I expected and contained a few home truths regarding the current hysteria.

Keeping Stock

I haven’t seen it yet alloytoo, but will watch it online. Interestingly though, Latta tweeted last night that Winston Peters has already accused him of being a front for the National Party; that seems to be Peters’ favourite accusation at the moment. Latta replied to Peters that he simply looks at things through both eyes; nice comeback.

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The program featured Professor Paul Spoonley, Ganesh Nana, the head of migration at MBIE an immigration agent. Where were the Savings Working Group, Michael Reddel (Don Brash) , Kerry McDonald, Bernard Hickey etc?

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