Labour leader Andrew Little confident regional skills visa will keep migrants in specific regions, won't be abused; Not aiming to cut permanent residency targets

Labour leader Andrew Little confident regional skills visa will keep migrants in specific regions, won't be abused; Not aiming to cut permanent residency targets

By Alex Tarrant

Labour leader Andrew Little says he is confident the party’s new regional visa policy will ensure migrants remain in the regions they sign up to long-term, and that the measure will not be abused along the lines of claims that student visas currently are.

In other comments Tuesday, Little said Labour was not looking at changes to the government’s permanent residency visa target.

Labour had attacked the target set for issuance of about 90,000 to 100,000 permanent residence visas over a two year period, with Little in 2016 calling for the target to be lowered. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse later that year shifted the range down to 85,000 to 95,000.

“Our policy is not to change that, no,” Little said at his weekly pre-caucus media conference in Wellington’s Parliament Buildings. Labour’s policy targeted the front-end of migrants wishing to enter the country for longer than 12 months, he said.

“You manage that end of the process right, you’ll deal with the residency issues and criteria for residency as a secondary issue. Right now, it’s the people coming through the front door intending to be here for 12 months or more. I think we’ve got to work out how we’re going to manage that more effectively before we think about the other stuff.”

Regional visa policy

Little earlier this month announced the party’s Election 2017 immigration policy including measures aimed at reducing student, post-study and work visas by 20,000 to 30,000 annually. Policy proposals also included changes to the regional work visa points programme.

Little was asked about Labour’s intention to introduce regional skills shortage lists, with the intention of issuing work visas to migrants who would then have to remain in the region their visa was issued for.

In May, Little raised concerns that tying migrants to specific regions might be against their human rights. He had said the current system of awarding more visa application points to migrants saying they would work in the regions was not working, with many moving to Auckland after a year of arrival.

On Tuesday he defended Labour’s new policy, saying the regional visa programme would be dependent on a person having a job to go to by working with industries, business, employers and unions in various regions to decide where there were general shortages that could be covered by regional visas.

“So, the idea is to manage it in a way that you’ve actually got a reason to go to the region and a reason to stay there, rather than turning up there because you want to get a few extra points, finding you’ve got no prospects there, and then drifting back to Auckland.”

Asked whether a migrant would then be required to leave the country if a job were to end, Little said while there were no ‘permanent jobs’, a role would have to be offered on an open-ended basis. “And I’m confident that, on that basis, properly recruiting, properly managed, you’re going to get people going to the regions on a long-term basis.”

He was then asked whether he was confident the system couldn’t be abused by employers along the lines of Labour’s claims that student visa schemes had by way of private training establishments offering education effectively as a front for migrants to secure an initial student visa, and then moving later to permanent residency due to time spent in the country during and after their study.

Labour was trying to halt the situation where migrants under the current system could get more points by promising to go to a region outside of Auckland without any job prospects, and then drifting back to Auckland, “where there might be more opportunities for them to get work,” Little said.

The policy would allow for decent job offers in the regions, giving a migrant every reason to remain outside Auckland, he said.

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The closer we get to election day the more we learn about the "Empire's Cloths" and whether he is wearing any !!... Labour is scraping for any votes now and keeps turning and tossing policies to suit specific complaints few months before the real election battle starts ... So much for Solid well thought of Political Plans and solutions ... Everyday, We discover how fluid Labour's policies are !! ...and cannot help but question the validity of their promises.!!
So after keeping the current permanent residency targets, which 20,000 - 30,000 immigrants are they going to Ban exactly? I guess there is no one left other than few stray students and few working visa migrants on the skilled visas list which have and being trimmed already ... All of which have NO Significant effect whatsoever on housing prices !!... If Labour does that, they will stress a good portion of the Education Industry employing good numbers of kiwis, put some Kiwi businesses struggling to find skilled workers in a difficult position , and eventually strain a star economy that has become the envy of the OECD! .. "Its Time to take a breather" ? ... Of what??

So disappointing really !! ... I thought that 9 years in opposition would have given Labour enough time to work out an "Alternative Plan" and be seen to be less floundering in the last days before the Election !! the more details they reveal, the more exposed they become... Maybe the polls are correct after all , and they do not deserve more than the 27% of the votes ATM ...


So remind us again why National is so much better? You'd think after nine years in government they would have done something about housing and immigration?

Done something about housing and immigration? They have; what we've got was the plan from the get go!
How hard can it be for Labour to say we are going to keep a tight lid on immigration - this indecisiveness doesn't inspire much confidence. Perhaps a dose of Peters will give them a bit of spine.

@Brock , I was hoping for some fresh thinking from Labour W.R.T this immigration tsunami that has plunged us into the worst housing crisis in living memory ............. sadly we are wrong , nothing is about to change

@eco bird . precisely , now that Little has played his hand , we now know that the current rate of PR Visas will not change at all .


We have a massive housing backlog in Auckland and a disgraceful road congestion problem driven by a flawed immigration policy , and now the opposition tells us it will do the same as the present incumbent Government

Why would we vote for Labour if nothing is going to change ?

Phew, what a relief! Here I was thinking I might actually have to vote Labour this election, for the first time in years, which was bothering me. Now that I know there will be no change under Labour, I can go back to voting National. At least its solved that moral dilemma!

@Boatman .. very good question ... I wouldn't vote for them after this wishy washy performance -- I couldn't trust any of their front benchers - their performance in parliament speaks volumes.

Labour has a history of throwing around mysterious , vague statements and policies
essentially playing on peoples sentiments hoping that no one will notice or question them on details - frankly I find that quite insulting to the NZ public who deserve much better than this....

None of the smaller parties have a complete program and they all focus on one or two issues - they are never designed or plumbed to Govern , good for creating some noise when everything is quiet ... or moan when everyone is Happy.

and national are doing just the same.

All we have to go on is past performance and National have done nothing for 3 if not 6 years to fix the looming problems. Sadly HC's Govn before them was just the same.

Comes down to gambling that Labour will actually improve things. National certainly will not (plus the risk BE could be (Bolger'd) and we'd get a nasty right wing piece replacing him making things even worse.


So with Little English offers it looks like the future of politics in the short term will be NZ FIRST and long term the Greens.

A Green/NZ first Govt, now that would be interesting.

Time has shown myself that the legacies of both the National and Labour parties have become ever more cringeworthy since their initial sellout(off) of the country and its future over the last thirty years!
Winston and the Greens along with the Maori party might just not sellout so cheaply in (non) monetary terms.

Yeah, National and Labour have definitely had their time. A government without either would hopefully be the message they need to refocus and act in the interests of the people for a change.

Hmm be interesting if TOP gets 5%. Personally I will not be surprised in NZF is the 3rd biggest party come the day after election. The Green's I think will stagnate as they busily vote buy off people with no interest in Green things causing ppl like myself desert their party and head to TOP.

National will be re-elected simple as that.

not on there own they wont both main parties bleed support to the minor parties in mmp on election day,
and they have a bad case of third term shoot the other foot. or put said foot in mouth
the makeup of there support parties will be the most interesting factor and at this stage I can see a NZfirst/national government (depending on the deal done behind closed doors)

And young Kiwis growing up in Auckland will have to abandon any hope of owning their own home in the city of their birth. And National will throw open the immigration tap even wider, depressing wages for those same young Kiwis.

And nothing will ever go wrong...

Better the devil you know#vote national

Vote National and #RentTillYouDie, young Kiwis!

I hope not.


Pretty demoralizing hearing how Little is misfiring
He never was a good pick for leader but then neither is Bill English & where's the ponytail fetish guy these days ? Winston is ClubWinston polarizing and smart as a fox yet uninterested in the workload of PM even if he was able to secure it.
Greens are the usual leftovers of unhappiness with the world They remain unpragmatic and frankly dogmatic
They don't want leadership of the country anymore than Winston.
So then there's National & Bill English as default leader again
How sad the politics in NZ has become but it appears no different elsewhere in UK or USA etc
One things for sure there will be big change in 2017/18 worldwide in my humble opinion

Ruling parties have to operate within very strict and defined parameters. A little too much one way way and they are Nazis and the other way Communists. This is why they keep stealing each other's policies in order to gain power. They are effectively all the same.

If Little is not aiming to cut Permanent Residence visas , just how on earth is he ever going to get on top of the housing backlog , given the immigrants are focused on getting one thing and one thing only ......PERMANENT RESIDENCE .

PR gives you all the rights and benefits of a citizen , including all the free stuff and Working for Families , the NZ Super as well as being allowed to bring Mom and Dad here along with siblings . And in some cultures everyone in the extended family is a brother or sister

I'm surprised he is happy to leave our immigration rate so much higher than other countries. This is one competition we do not need to win.
If and when there is a major recession NZ can stop renewing working visas but can do nothing about permanent residents. Then when a job is advertised and the NZ national and a newly arrived immigrant apply for it if the latter gets it the Kiwis is disgruntled because he remains out of work or if the Kiwi gets the job he is still disgruntled because the recent newcomers is getting welfare benefits that he hasn't contributed to. Either way you get social conflict. Solution is simple - restrict immigration to people who add value to NZ.
I just can't understand our politicians: if immigration is such a success why don't other countries do the same? Why don't we re-introduce the 10 pound POM scheme but make it apply to the whole world.

Voting for Labour or National will change nothing. However, if many more of us start voting for the smaller parties then it will surely influence the bigger two (frighten the C*** out of them). Indeed the masses can finally start to exercise real political clout. I will be voting for Winston; he is our best opposition.


This is a little unrelated but just reading the news re: Todd Barclay incident. My mind jumps back to John Key's Tea tape / Bradley Ambrose scandal - which in that incident it was outrageous for someone to record a persons conversation, but if the shoe is on the other foot, it's okay to use bribes/money (with tax payers money....even worse) to keep someone quiet? Or am I completely mis-intrepreting the situation/events? Sounds like something that would play out in a country, say, like Russia?

If this is the case, the corruption of the current Government is far worse than I originally thought, and our 'least corrupt' status must surely be just a fallacy. How and why people put their trust/faith/vote towards (JK), BE and co, has very little moral justification. But of course, could just be reading the 'tea leaves' wrong...

Would it have been John Key or Bill English who approved the use of tax payer money to settle this?

There's more than enough for a Royal Commission into systemic corruption in the National party and government. Years of incidents and evidence.

I see that the police are re-investigating, and now there are allegations that Blunder Boy invented complaints from public against Dickson, and if that's so, there may well be faked documentation. Fraud and defamation, anyone?

I think there's a case to be heard. We also need an explanation as to why Bill English knows about all of this and didn't report it to the Police. Instead he seems to have been making false statements.

"No surprises" policy is actually the conceal corruption policy.

If you spend any time dealing with certain parts of Government there are certainly people that believe they are above the law and ignore complaints. There is a terrible culture of this activity that has risen while National has been in power.

Obviously Todd Barclay has spent some time working at the GCSB and just simply misinterpreted the law....but it's okay, the 'boss' has got my back and he happens to have a big bank account!

You think back to Nationals dealing with the GCSB and the Rebecca Kitteridge report and the general incompetence of the spy agencies in terms of falsely interpreting the Search/Surveillance Act for such a long period of time - you can kind of see why the likes of Key and English would want to sweep this under the carpet.

I mean even Key said that the Kitteridge report was pretty damning. So then to have one of your junior troops a couple of years later break the same law it's going to stick to you if it gets air time with the media...

So it's pretty damning for the GCSB to mess it up spying on people - but it's okay if one of your own workers does it - then if they do, you cover it up and even worse use the tax payers money to try and make it go away...? I thought the politics of Trump was outrageous - but this is next level...

Is it not OK to interpret the law to suit one's own requirements when you know you have the backing of the "boss"?

It is my understanding that Bill English's knowledge of the incident was included in the original investigation. The only new information is that Barclay is now admitting he made "misleading" statements after BE's initial police statement was released yesterday.

Yeah but BE in his police statement said that he knew that Barclay recorded someones private conversations - which according to the Search/Surveillance Act (which the National government had changed following Kitteridge report) is an illegal activity. He or John Key then used the slush fund to make the problem going away.....

So BE knew something illegal had gone down, then he was happy for the problem to go away without legal action....

BTW - John Key got the police involved to clear up the tea tape scandal because 'it was an invasion of his privacy' - but then if one of his troops does it - they pay the victim off? WTF New Zealand.....we're better than this...

Massive lack of integrity, that's right.

I thought Bill English was a devout Christian?

So are half the guys in the segregation unit.

I have a half-baked idea that those who loudly proclaim their religious virtue are far more likely to be engaged in really dirty business. It's as though the moral brownie points gained from being adherents allows them to do things that the rest of shy away from for being morally repugnant.

You have described the Christian Heritage Party.

Religiosity has never had much correlation with honesty and integrity. If anything it's a negative correlation.

Something that seems missed amongst all this is that it all went down in 2016 (Dickson knew her conversations had been taped on the 21st Jan 2016 and it all went pear shaped from then for Wide Boy and National)
Surely then the buck must stop with the PM at the time whose slush fund was used for the cover up???

For those that need reminding that person was the PM of Parnell who suddenly decided in late 2016 to jump ship.

Hows the underside of that bus that just ran you over looking, Farmer?

Not quite sure this is representative of the behavior expected of someone who will be knighted....


I thought you only got a knighthood if you impoverished 295,000 children and ran a failed flag referendum that no one wanted.

Well, when Doug Graham was convicted and locked up, Key announced that he'd be able to keep his knighthood, despite that pesky criminal conviction. Wanted to set a precedent, no doubt.

A knighthood has become a black mark against a person. It's no wonder there are people refusing to accept them.

You are wrong.
The process for selecting people for a knighthood is a job that is not taken lightly.

I don't know how you can say that when a flag referendum was first initiated in Labours election manifesto.

Seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do !

The NZH link is earlier this year (I don't read NZH) and the video includes Bill English lying to the media about the matter.

It was clear that there was something not quite right about whatever had gone down in that office, but also a lack of any real explanations. Took this long for the cover-up to fail.

Any complaints relating to Government departments can take months as they move very slowly, or set aside complaints hoping they will go away. Going through the proper process does take time but National have been foolish to think that burying issues that will reappear months later during the run up to the election was a good idea.

When the story first broke last year, I remember googling my fingers off looking for detail, but there was nothing substantive in the media, just bland denials.

Very pleasing that some actual investigative journalism was going on in the background.

Didn't the UN recently ask the government to fully investigate the Afghan raids as well? Guess this issue is in the same basket...won't get touched until some more facts come out which they know about but don't intend on telling the public about - unless they get caught out of course...not dodgy at all...nothing to see here.....

There's all those skeletons that fell out of the cupboard prior to last election that were never properly addressed. There was that sleight of hand regarding Judith Collins where one minor allegation was investigated, an exoneration stage-managed, and then they tried to give the impression that she'd been cleared on everything. Not so. It just wasn't investigated.

Smalltown - they more I think about this, the more fraudulent the whole situation appears. I mean if John Key and Bill English knew that an illegal activity occurred (they would know as they had the Search and Surveillance Act changed under their watch following the Kim Dotcom shambles and Kitteridge report - as a result they would have known what was legal/illegal without a doubt) - so to then use tax payers money to pay off the victim of an illegal activity is just simply amazing. The arrogance of it. I'm not quite sure how this could get any worse for National - unless they can manage to sweep the whole thing under the carpet like they have with most other 'events' the last 9 years - although without Teflon John it might be difficult.

Surely Labour can grill National over this....I mean they couldn't get caught with their pants any further down than they are right now.....the whole circus, including the the clowns are there for everyone to see....

Breaking news that Toddy is going to stand down for election in September. Which doesn't mean much, there have been rumours about for months that the electorate and party had buyers remorse and wanted to send him back. Wonder if he's been negotiating his own hush-money payoff?

Let's see if they try to convince us that a resignation solves everything, and that continuing investigation and possible prosecution don't matter. Nope.

Winston is calling for Bill to resign.

This poll seems to agree.

Which police officers are resigning for their incompetence? What about the other National Party members directly involved?

Labour have said they don't want to see house prices fall and now will maintain immigration at current levels. So some sensible policy at last.

If they can commit to not increasing taxes they'll actually be a viable alternative to National.

Delboy. that is tripe that did not come from cows.

I met someone who went to a regional town in order to get the points for permanent residence. They got what I thought was a good job but the culture shock was too much so they moved to a larger town with housing problems as soon as the 1 yr was up. Labour will find that even with a good job in a region, many people will not want to stay there.
Remember the case of the woman refugee who claimed that she was "suffering" in Wellington. And demanded that she be moved to AK.

The cafe culture and easy access to the waterfront in Wellington is intolerable.

I'm not happy that Labour are unwilling to tackle immigration properly but I do think they are the party most likely to strengthen the labour inspectorate and at least make some effort to tackle the widespread corruption and appalling exploitation linked to our current immigration rules.

Everyone is free to vote however they like ,,, BUT I guess we need to be careful in generalizing or amplifying a small problem ... "tackle the widespread corruption and appalling exploitation linked to our current immigration rules" - this has nothing to do with the rules - corruption starts from o/sea where it breeds well, No immigration rules can bleach clean corruption entrenched in some cultures! .... Few corrupt employers ( mostly of the same or similar origin and culture) do not make it Widespread !!

whoever agrees to work 80-90h weeks for next to nothing has a huge problem himself to allows others to exploit him ...Cannot Blame the system for this !!.. we are not a charity and if there are few who slipped in the country by twisting the rules then that is not the system's fault .... And it is not widespread!!

I do blame the system. It is just like the way slavery was illegal in Britain, the slaves were captured by Africans, sold to Arabs and bought by Americans but the whole system depended on the Brits letting the ships cross the Atlantic. It took Wilberforce most of his life to stop it. The exploitation is widespread not rare.

You are right that almost all of the cases consist of agents overseas and employers in NZ of the same origin country as the victims they exploit. But those employers are NZ residents and so eventually will be some of the victims. Not the way the way to recruit new Kiwis with Kiwi values.

Read the carefully researched report by the University of Auckland to see how widespread it is. But we ought to be as upset by one case of slavery as by many.

Final self-interested point: I have children who are entering the workforce - they are having to compete with 3rd world labour. You may have a good job or a great education but maybe you have friends who don't.

Labour inspectorate is essential otherwise the laws of NZ are being broken with impunity.

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