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The National Party is proposing a new Primary Sector Visa for migrant labour, as well as an expansion of the existing seasonal work scheme and expansion of working holiday visas

The National Party is proposing a new Primary Sector Visa for migrant labour, as well as an expansion of the existing seasonal work scheme and expansion of working holiday visas
Simon Bridges.

The National Party's proposing a new Primary Sector Visa to allow the primary industries to more easily bring in migrant labour.

Additionally, National also says it wants to extend the existing Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and also to extend the term of working holiday visas. 

And the party's also seeking views on: "How can we make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages?"

The proposals - which don't give great detail or outline what sorts of numbers of migrants would be involved - are outlined in National's Primary Sector Discussion Document, which leader Simon Bridges launched at Fieldays on Thursday. 

"Farmers and growers are crying out for skilled labour but there isn’t enough workers to meet demand," Bridges said.

"Many are experiencing serious implications of food rotting because of a lack of labour stifling growth and will have to downsize. A solution is needed now."

Bridges said the Primary Sector Visa would "act as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here".

The discussion document says that with a fast growing primary sector meeting world food demands, it’s imperative we have the workforce to manage, develop and maintain New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural businesses.

"Migrant populations have shown an ability to excel in our primary sector. New Zealand benefits from their contribution. They benefit from the opportunity to grow their skills and support their families. There could be an opportunity to create a new visa for the industry. The Primary Sector Visa (PSV) for example could be an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here."

Separately, the document also talks about creation of a specific Agriculture Visa, but it gives no more detail than that.

On the RSE scheme, the document says this benefits New Zealand and the Pacific countries with additional income.

"Workers and their families benefit from getting ahead. We gain with additional jobs - for instance in the wine industry for every 2.5 RSE workers, 1 fulltime job is created in New Zealand. We recognise the increased demand for places under the scheme. We will expand the scheme subject to maximising Kiwi jobs and employers maintaining high standards."

The document is also seeking views from readers of it on whether the RSE scheme be expanded to allow African and American continents to apply and also whether  the RSE scheme should be extended to a nine month placement, such as specific dairy farming placements.

And on the subject of extended working holiday visas the document says we have a number of working holiday visa schemes including many with South American countries.

"These schemes are an opportunity to broaden the primary sector workforce base and for these countries to benefit from students returning with greater agriculture skills and knowledge. There has been a significant reduction in the number of workers on working holiday visas. There is an opportunity to increase the caps and extend to Central and Eastern Europe."

Federated Farmers welcomed the discussion document, saying there were some "useful policy ideas" in it.

Federated Farmers Dairy chair and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis noted that National had picked up on "serious and persistent sector concerns" with its request for feedback in the discussion document on how to make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages.

"For example, complaints about the delays in processing visas for migrant workers desperately needed in our primary industries aren’t being addressed with sufficient vigour. It also seems clear that the student education, hospitality, retail and rest home care sectors are feeling similarly frustrated."

He said Federated Farmers’ biggest issue is that almost all dairy farm worker visas are now only for 12 months.

"We see longer visas of two or three years as far less bureaucratic and costly at a time of worker shortages. If we moved to this, it would be a reduced workload for Immigration NZ, which would help with their backlog."  

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....or put it another have borrowed too much, have paid too much for land, have paid themselves too much for their own cannot afford to pay kiwi workers a market rate.

Let the industry re-set, not subside it with cheap foreign labor.


So Bridges suggests that the answer to a shortage of people willing to do hard work for low wages isn't to increase salaries but to import more labour and surpress wages. The guy needs to go work on a fruit farm.


National party, giving up on catching up with Australia for quite some time now.

Even Bill had a better understanding on how labour market dynamics are supposed to work .


"How can we make Immigration NZ more responsive and accessible to employers facing labour shortages?"
Don't they get it, there are no real labour shortages just low wages. That's why most people run to Oz the first chance they get for better salaries and careers.


What was wrong with the system used when National was in know the one where immigrants were scammed into paying for their visas while their employers/slavemasters pocketed all the cash without paying tax? Zespri seemed very happy with that arrangement!


As someone working within the dairy industry and having worked in kiwifruit I've got no sympathy for the employers in general. Their industries emphasis has always been on keeping wages and contracts as low as possible while being prepared to bid up property prices using borrowed money leveraging the low wages.


Rastus / Glitzy / CJ999 / 4th_Estate / Redcows - you said it all. If National push for 3rd world wages in NZ then they will not get re-elected despite the many mistakes being made by our current govt. What party is worth a vote if it doesn't put the working Kiwi ahead of foreigners? Bridges approval rating to go lower! I'm not xenophobic; happy to see immigrant workers from any country if and only if they are paid well above the average NZ wage.

"Bridges approval rating to go lower"
Approval rates can't be negative, can they?

Lapun what you say is mostly correct but you dont get it about results at the polls. Farmers vote as a block, those affected by the low wages dont vote in the %s that swing elections. Apathy, laziness whatever but that's the way it is. No one seems interested in making voting compulsory so all the parties are grabbing their ankles wrt farmers, whether its CGT, subsidizing their gun licences, building irrigation schemes, paying for schemes to get rid of farm plastic, ignoring the cesspool damage to rivers and keeping wages low by importing cheap labour.

Don't worry there are plenty of cheesed off GenX and Millennials that are quite happy to vote for Labour so long as house prices and the cost of living heads downwards, so they can afford to live and work in NZ.
And Labour can wipe the floor with National if they bring in a "Minimum wage visa requirement" to stop wage suppression and new migrants from being exploited.
The UK has this for their Tier 2 work visa: "Appropriate salary: You’ll usually need to be paid at least £30,000 per year (Approx $60k NZD) or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job you’re offered - whichever is higher.
UK Gov: General work visa (Tier 2)

And if they want to stay more than 5 years their salary limit is £35,800 or $69,101 NZD. That seems about right - suitable for teachers, accountants, engineers, etc

Sadly I know several College lecturers working for less then that in central Auckland and guess what they're migrants.

Very rough maths: $60k pa less $20k tax & Kiwisaver, (maybe $5 repay student loan), $20k accommdation (assuming a place of their own), $5k travel so that leaves them between $15k to $20k or lucky to see $30 per day - to spend on food, clothes, holidays, family weddings & funerals, car? So a lecturer in central Auckland is likely to be single and sharing and probably living on rice and beans. No room for a partner and starting a family. Not much of a life in one of the world's most liveable cities.


Out tramping on Wed. I was asking one lady how her son is doing as a pilot with a small regional airline. I was astonished to find that he is on the minimum wage-and he has been qualified for several years. I found it difficult to believe.
I don't fancy being a passenger on an airline that pays so little-minimum maintenance too perhaps?

Some pilots work for free toget their hours up. Then hopefully that helps them get a paying job. Hopefully.


Nah I'm not xenophobic either...i work with plenty of immigrants. Clever, well educated and thoroughly nice people. But the numbers have exploded so much that resentment builds across the wider community (who else to blame for queue's, congested service's and exploding homelessness?) and so social friction rises. We need politicians to stop running from this issue and discuss population.


Being an expat myself, I would say that most immigrants agree that net migration be lowered to sustainable levels. Most of us have come to NZ in pursuit of better living standards for ourselves and our loved ones. However, those standards are rapidly starting to drop and we need to have more open conversations leading to policy changes in order to address this crisis.
And no, it does not make you a xenophobic if you are purely concerned about the numbers or quality of migrants coming into NZ without calling out a certain group or ethnicity. That should ideally be the nature and purpose of our immigration system: keeping the influx at optimal levels to maximize benefits while minimizing costs and inconvenience; ours is clearly failing its purpose.

Agreed and well said. FYI - immigrant myself with what is called a 'visible' immigrant family. It seems the only sensible discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of immigration is by migrants - everyone else is scared of being called racist.


National, the party that keeps wages low so you can service more debt.


And in a single article you capture everything that is happening in Western economy's - employers want cheap labour and it has to be imported. There is only a shortage of labour at the rate employers are willing to offer. If they raise pay, then the market will eventually reach equilibrium and clear. These visa's achieve nothing but keeping wages low

Western economy's except Switzerland. They are not doing too badly and have wages roughly double ours. So why does National think a low wage country is an advantage?

Young friend lived in Switzerland for several years. Never paid more than 7% income tax - tax rate set by canton. But it's not easy to get a work permit there.

Make work permits harder to get in NZ please.

Unemployment in Mid Canterbury; 1.8%
Unemployment ranges between about 3.5 and 4% through most of high-productivity rural NZ provinces, pretty much at structural-unemployment levels. There is strong labour market competition in these areas and there simply aren't enough people to do the work needed.

You missed the trend......

Working age Jobseeker Support recipients in Ashburton District in the year to March 2019 increased by 8.1% compared with the previous year. Growth was higher relative to New Zealand, where the number of Jobseeker Support recipients increased by 7.6%.


I am a fan of the RSE scheme for workers from Pacific Islands, who would otherwise not have access to decent wages, I am sure they would rather this than more and more aid to them. BUT, they must be paid properly and not subject to rorts from contractors. The rest, nah.

Agreed if handled properly. My experience being PI Melanesians - plenty of opportunity for them to come to NZ for seasonal work - benefit them and us but the rorts have to be resolved first. A rare case for the govt to be involved as a supplier of contract labour? Better still a joint govt body with both PI diplomats and our MBIE staff running the organisations.

Had any negative feedback on this group Lapun?

Thanks for the link. As per most websites it looks good. I'm only a city dwelling observer interested in good outcomes for PNG and the Solomans. I hate reading any exploitation of people from these countries. It does seem to depend on the details.

Absolutely it must straight up, which is why I included it in my comment. It can't be left to shysters and scam artists to organise them.

Doesn't the dept of Stats define migrants as 'long term stay' (>12 months) so are the seasonal harvest workers actually included in migrant stats?

I've never thought of them as migrants, myself, it's just they were mentioned in the article and I am, in theory, if not entirely in the practice, a fan of the scheme. Done right, it is absolutely a win win situation

National really trying hard to get no votes at all from the under 35ish age group, a bit of stirring from Winston and the media and they'll lose a bunch of the stale & pale segment too, they aren't big fans of immigration if they aren't employers.

Bridges said the Primary Sector Visa would "act as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to help get residence and build their futures here"

I thought such a visa should act to solve labour shortages. Anyone in rural nz knows that as soon as many migrants working in rural sector get residency they flee to the cities. Therefore such visa would act as a never ending conveyor belt from overseas to rural nz to nz cities.

Will rorts in rural areas be easier to hide than in our cities?

Yes indeed. What is happening with the Stan Semenoff case in Northland. It all has gone quiet....

Had to search for that one. Never heard of it before. Which shows how many rorts are occurring.

Another aspect to these employment rorts is tax. IRD and the taxpayer are regularly ripped off (not legally but effectively fraud) from unpaid income and employer deductions as a result of these employment rorts. Are those same employers also prosecuted by IRD? Does IRD have the resources to police it? The reality is we have a significant number of recent immigrants running small business in NZ with no respect for our employment and tax laws until caught.
I would like IRD to publicise the number of prosecutions and private settlements made as result of audits on these types of business. I could name 5 alone within my location with private settlements (tax plus interest in penalties - made to avoid court) well in excess of $100,000 each. A token number are periodically publicised but the real number will be high.
What is the cost to the taxpayer?

Depends on the region. Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for 40.2% of all employees in Southland compared to a national count of 5%. After English, the next most common language spoken in Southland District is Tagalog. Take Southland - dairy employs thousands of migrants there - especially from Phillipines, South America, EU. There are strong support groups there and word spreads pretty quickly among them if there are any rorts, what pay rates should be etc.. One of the issues to arise now that families are harder to bring in for them, is that there are shortages of staff at meat works and elder care facilities, as that is often where the partners of the dairy staff, took up employment. Also Southland migrant dairy staff are not inclined to move on in to cities though some partners may work in urban Southland. Southland needs to increase it's population. :-)

Looks like National aren't even going to try for the next election.

National shows economic incompetence. Not interested in lifting the income of citizens either.

Standard economics is that if there are labour shortages, capital and innovation is used to create new solutions. Artificial intelligence is being pared with machinery to pick fruit.
The country productivity is being suppressed by low paid migration allowing businesses not to innovate.