Government border announcement makes Australia the destination of choice for skilled migrants and students

Today’s detail-free border announcement that businesses and universities will have to wait at least another five months to welcome skilled workers and students to New Zealand raises more questions than it answers and is a huge set-back for New Zealand’s economic recovery, says National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford

“The announcement that arrivals will be “staged over time” from April 30 offers zero detail on who will be allowed in and over what time period. It has failed to address the problems faced by businesses and the education sector and leaves them with more uncertainty. It was so lacking in detail that it leaves more questions than it does answers.

“With Australia opening up their borders and aggressively targeting skilled workers and students by offering quarantine free travel from 1 December, today’s announcement handed skilled migrants and students a very compelling reason to choose Australia over NZ.

“The border closure has seen New Zealand experience some of the worst labour shortages in history. The number one concern of businesses across the country is access to skilled labour. Right now, businesses are turning down work because they don’t have the workers.

“New Zealand’s economic recovery depends upon our ability to access skilled workers and in the context of a global war for talent, today’s lacklustre and detail-free announcement leaves New Zealand as the least attractive option for that talent.

“April 30 will also be too late for international students looking to start studying here next year. Many students will instead opt for Australian schools and universities which will see our education sector miss out on the billions of dollars that international students provide.

“Whether we like it or not, we directly compete with Australia for skilled migrants and students. This Government is sitting back and pointing them in Australia’s direction.

“We have to end MIQ now for fully-vaccinated travellers so we can reconnect businesses and universities to the world. We cannot wait another five long months. If we continue to remain shut behind the walls of Fortress New Zealand, our country will continue to suffer while Australia powers ahead.”