The Government must urgently address the skills migration shortage which is hampering regional New Zealand’s growth, National’s spokesperson for South Island Regional Development Andrew Falloon says.

“Towns like Ashburton are bearing the brunt of it. There are 500 vacancies in the district and employers have stopped advertising because of a lack of applicants.

‘The Mackenzie District has been granted a streamlined labour market test for migrant workers seeking an Essential Skills Visa.

“I’ve written to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway asking him to consider putting similar measures in place for other districts.

“This anti-immigration attitude from the Government is stifling the growth of businesses and the economy.

“Iain Lees-Galloway said in March that the current immigration settings would remain in place until the end of the year. It’s now almost December and he hasn’t made any announcements. All we know is that Labour’s election manifesto said it would reduce net immigration by 20,000 - 30,000 per year.

“Iain Lees-Galloway has had a disaster year as Immigration Minister. He’s approved residency for a convicted drug smuggler and fraudster, while declining visas for law-abiding people who are genuinely needed and wanted by communities.

“The least he can do is end the year by supporting hardworking local businesses so they can keep the lights on by getting the workers they desperately need.”

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