ACC Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a new appointment to the ACC Board.
Leona Murphy joins the board from today for a three year term.
“Ms Murphy will bring valuable skills to the ACC board, she has a strong background in large scale business transformation, digital IT and insurance claims management,” Mr Woodhouse says.
Ms Murphy’s career has been in the Australian insurance industry and most recently as Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Transformation Officer at IAG where she worked across Australia, Asia and New Zealand markets.
Mr Woodhouse thanked departing board member, Professor Gregor Coster for his service and commitment.
ACC is a Crown agent and has an independent board with eight members appointed by the Minister for ACC.
Note for editors:
Ms Murphy who is based in Australia has a background in the Australian insurance industry, most recently as Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at IAG. She is a director of Liberty Financial Limited, Stone & Chalk Ltd and Chair of the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital Foundation.
She was previously Chair of the Board for the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
ACC and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a new Workplace Health and Safety Performance Improvement Toolkit (the Toolkit) to provide businesses with advice and guidance to improve health and safety performance.
“The Toolkit delivers a framework that defines what good health and safety looks like and encourages active involvement and engagement throughout the workplace, from workers and operational managers through to senior leaders and boards,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The Toolkit delivers a health and safety best practice standard that is nationally recognised, credible and aligned with the New Zealand regulatory framework beyond minimum compliance requirements.
“Businesses will be able to choose how the Toolkit best caters to their needs with access to resources on the WorkSafe website, an onsite assessment delivered by independent accredited assessors or a free online self-assessment.”
The Toolkit will help improve workplace health and safety by:aligning health and safety workforce professional development with best practice supporting behavioural and culture change by fostering more effective worker participation and engagement targeting system weaknesses identified by the Independent Taskforce
“Good health and safety is good for business and leads to a more productive workforce,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The Toolkit has an important role to play in this and is another step towards achieving the government’s target of a 25 per cent reduction in workplace fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.”
The Toolkit is the culmination of the Safety Star Rating Scheme work undertaken by WorkSafe, ACC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
For more information, visit www.worksafe.govt.nz/health-and-safety-toolkit.
Budget 2017 provides $36.3 million of additional operating spending over the next four years for WorkSafe New Zealand to build its capability as an effective, risk-targeted regulator, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse.
$17.36 million has been reprioritised from within baseline and the remaining $18.97 million is new funding from the Health and Safety at Work Levy.
“Budget 2017 recognises the work required to lift health and safety performance in the workplace,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The $36.3 million over four years will allow WorkSafe to:maintain the High Hazard Unit’s current inspectorate capability and capacity, enabling it to carry out both proactive and reactive activity to support business to manage catastrophic risk. continue to provide effective education, engagement and enforcement activity to manage health and safety issues around the high levels of construction activity in Christchurch and Auckland address operating cost pressures, ensuring WorkSafe can maintain an active presence across New Zealand.
“Budget 2017 also addresses higher regional inspectorate costs by providing WorkSafe with the necessary funding to maintain its local engagement.
“This will allow businesses and workers facing wide-ranging risks to continue to get support from their local WorkSafe office.
“WorkSafe has become a smarter, more targeted regulator and Budget 2017 will help maintain the progress WorkSafe’s been making in improving our workplace health and safety record.”
Budget 2017 provides $8.7 million of operating funding over the next four years for initiatives to support pay equity dispute resolution and Holidays Act compliance, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse says.
“The Government is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand and ensuring we have the resources to settle pay equity claims in a timely manner,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The $8.7 million is made up of $6.7 million of new funding and $2 million reprioritised from existing baselines.
“$5.3 million towards pay equity dispute resolution will provide for the adequate resourcing of mediation services for pay equity issues,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Prompt and effective mediation for pay equity cases will benefit employers and employees by reducing time and costs associated with protracted employment disputes, leading to more productive employment relationships.
“Budget 2017 also supports the effective delivery of the Holidays Act compliance strategy by providing $3.4 million to the Labour Inspectorate.
“The strategy benefits employees by ensuring remediation of historical underpayment for holidays and leave, as well as correct payment in the future,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The additional funding allows the Labour Inspectorate to continue this important work alongside its other regulatory activities to ensure our employment law is being applied fairly and consistently.”
Budget 2017 invests an additional $59.2 million over four years to ensure all road ambulance call outs are double crewed, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and ACC Minister Michael Woodhouse say.
“The Government is focused on getting patients the care they need when they need it, and our ambulance services have a key role to play in this,” Dr Coleman says.
“We’re creating 375 new emergency medical and paramedic roles across the country over the next four years to ensure all emergency road ambulance call outs are double crewed by 2021.
“Double crewing all road ambulance call outs will help ensure patients are provided with the best care possible, as well as support the safety and wellbeing of our dedicated paramedic workforce.”
Emergency road ambulance call outs are already almost entirely double crewed within the Wellington region. For the rest of the country, last year nearly 38,500 of the 393,000 call outs were single crewed, that’s around 10 per cent.
The new policy is also expected to create a significant operational efficiency with around 6,000 fewer incidents each year requiring two ambulances to respond.
Budget 2017 is investing $59.2 million over four years to fund the new policy through Vote Health in partnership with ACC. Vote Health has committed
$31.2 million, with the additional $28 million coming from ACC. This cost will be met from a combination of the ACC Non-Earners’ Account, which is funded from general taxation, and from ACC levies.
“Through Vote Health we are also investing $21 million over the next four years which will support a new funding arrangement for emergency air ambulance services and ambulance communications centres,” Mr Dunne says.
“The new arrangement will address financial sustainability issues by ensuring a clearer funding path that providers can work within.
“The additional funding will also maintain air ambulance services as they face significant increases in demand.
“I am advised that this is the single biggest increase that has gone into our emergency ambulance services, and a further commitment by this Government to strengthening core New Zealand infrastructure.
“It is my expectation that ambulance providers will continue to work closely with Fire and Emergency New Zealand to maximise efficiencies and responses to emergencies.”
The ambulance services are funded through Vote Health and ACC. In total the service will receive over $52 million from Vote Health and an additional $82 million from ACC over the next four years.
“The public expects their ACC contributions to be invested wisely,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Investing in double crewing and other ambulance services will help ensure better outcomes for those Kiwis who are most in need of support.”
Notes to Editors:
Double crewing will create 375 more paramedic and emergency medical roles over the next four years in the following districts
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is taking steps to improve Immigration New Zealand’s decision making authority for cases involving residence class visa holders convicted of a criminal offence.
“Currently, Immigration NZ has the ability to make decisions on behalf of the Minister on deportation cases for some residence class visa holders convicted of a criminal offence,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“I have made my expectations very clear when it comes to deportation decisions involving offending of this nature and those expectations are not being met. So I am temporarily suspending Immigration NZ’s decision making authority until I have confidence that the decisions being made are consistent with my expectations.
“This course of action follows today’s New Zealand Herald article regarding an individual whose liability for deportation was suspended, despite the severity of the offending.
“It’s important we take the time to review the decision making process to ensure the right decisions are being made.
“I expect to be able to return the decision making authority to Immigration NZ within a fortnight, provided I can be assured the decision making process aligns with my expectations.”
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today released an exposure draft of the Pay Equity Bill for public consultation.
“The Government is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand and providing a practical and fair process for employees to follow if they feel they are not being paid what their job is worth due to gender discrimination,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The release of the draft Pay Equity Bill for consultation is an important step towards achieving that and is vital to closing the gender pay gap and ensuring female dominated industries are paid fairly.”
This week, the Government announced a $2 billion pay equity settlement for some of the health sector’s lowest paid workers following the TerraNova pay equity claim.
“The settlement recognises the important work carried out by our aged and disability residential care services and complements the work being done by the Government to implement the Joint Working Group’s recommendations on Pay Equity,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Today’s release of the draft Pay Equity Bill for public consultation is a key step towards implementing those recommendations and aims to ensure that the wording in the legislation is clear and workable for employers and employees.
“Currently, the Equal Pay Act is not equipped to provide guidance on pay equity claims and needs to be updated to provide for a practical and fair process for employees to follow if they feel they are not being paid what their job is worth due to gender discrimination.
“The draft Bill also provides principles for, and gives guidance on, how to choose comparable jobs and roles to judge Pay Equity claims.
“I want to thank the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ for providing early feedback on the draft Bill. I look forward to their continued contributions during the exposure draft process to ensure key clauses reflect our goal to provide guidance.
“I encourage everyone to get involved in the consultation process and make sure they have their say on this very important piece of legislation.”
Consultation closes on Thursday 11 May and legislation is planned to be introduced soon after.
For more about the consultation process visit www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/exposure-draft-employment-pay-equity-and-equal-pay-bill.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a package of changes designed to better manage immigration and improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration.
“The Government is committed to ensuring inward migration best supports the economy and the labour market,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“It’s important that our immigration settings are attracting the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to our growing economy.
“That is why we are making a number of changes to our permanent and temporary immigration settings aimed at managing the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand.”
Changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework.
“One remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The SMC points table, under which individuals claim points towards their residence application, will also be realigned to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.
“Collectively these changes will improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.”
The Government is also proposing a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas.
The changes include:
- The introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants
- The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders, after which a minimum stand down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled temporary work visa.
- Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels.
- Exploring which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensuring that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand.
“I want to make it clear that where there are genuine labour or skills shortages, employers will be able to continue to use migrant labour to fill those jobs,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, the Government has a Kiwis first approach to immigration and these changes are designed to strike the right balance between reinforcing the temporary nature of Essential Skills work visas and encouraging employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them.
“We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and today’s announcement is another example of this Government’s responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration.”
Public consultation on the changes to temporary migration settings closes on 21 May, with implementation planned for later this year.
For more information visit:
Thank you to the Otago and Queenstown Chambers of Commerce for hosting this event.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. It’s a pleasure to be here.
It’s a fitting place to be talking about immigration. This region has been a rich part of New Zealand’s immigration story since the gold mining days of the 1860’s and remains one of the country’s premium destinations for overseas visitors, working holiday makers and other visa holders.
Dougal tells me it was actually the Otago Chamber of Commerce who invited Chinese gold miners to work the Central Otago fields over 150 years ago. So the Chamber as host and this location is highly appropriate for me to outline the Government’s next steps for immigration.
Immigration has definitely been a significant talking point over the last year, so I’m not surprised to see so many of you here today to talk about it.
The National-led Government believes New Zealand should be open to the rest of the world and immigration helps do that by encouraging innovation and deepening our links with international markets.
We want our businesses to have access to new and emerging markets, and we want to maximise the contribution immigration can make to our economy, with a clear focus on building our regions and supporting our sectors to grow.
So at a time when we are doing so well as a country, the focus on immigration is of course heightened.
But there’s a lot more to the immigration story than what you see or hear in the media.
Today, I want to look at the benefits migrants bring to New Zealand, before outlining the Government’s plan for immigration.
But before I get to that, I want to spend some time talking about the economy, and the strong position we are currently in as a country.
At a time when many parts of the world face significant political and economic risks, New Zealand is fundamentally doing well.
We are one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world.
That growth is driven mainly by the opportunities provided by our export markets, our global competitiveness, our high skill levels, our confidence to invest, and the resourcefulness and adaptability of Kiwi businesses.
It’s also backed up by this Government’s clear plan for the future.
And with that growth comes more job opportunities and higher wages for New Zealanders.
We’ve seen very strong employment growth over recent years. The economy has seen 328,000 jobs created since 2008; and a further 150,000 are expected by 2021.
The average annual wage, which is currently $58,700 and has been growing at twice the rate of inflation, is expected to reach $66,000 by 2021.
The most recent Household Labour Force Survey reported that for the first time ever we have 2.5 million people employed in New Zealand.
Our employment rate – the proportion of the total population aged 15 years or older in work – is 66.9 per cent. This is a record for New Zealand, and the second highest employment rate in the whole of the OECD.
So, as a country, we are well placed to grasp the many opportunities ahead of us.
It’s easy to see why people are keen to come here.
New Zealand is continually ranked as one of the best countries in the world for ease of doing business. We are renowned for our great lifestyle, safe and friendly communities, good public services and a clean and green environment – all underpinned by a stable government and a growing economy.
As the Prime Minister has said, it’s no wonder more kiwis are coming home, fewer are leaving and more people from all round the world want to come here. That’s a vote of confidence in this country and something we should be celebrating.
But a growing economy also creates some challenges.
That’s why as a Government we are investing heavily in the infrastructure needed to support this growth right across the country.
We’re expanding the roading network, the rail network, electricity transmission, ultrafast broadband and social infrastructure like schools and hospitals.
Here in Queenstown for example, we are currently building the new two lane Kawarau Falls Bridge, and we are investing jointly with the Queenstown Lakes Council on the new $22 million Eastern Access Road.
The Eastern Access Road is a critical link in Queenstown’s transport network which will help relieve congestion through the Frankton Flats area, bypassing the airport and connecting Remarkables Park to Frankton-Ladies Mile. It’s due to be built by the end of this year.
We’ve also invested $18.5 million in the new Shotover Primary School, and we are currently considering the timing of the planned expansion of Wakatipu High School to 1800 pupils.
To ensure our economy continues to grow, we must grow our companies, and that means they must be able to add more skilled staff.
We can and do train New Zealanders for those roles but fast-growing industries like viticulture, horticulture, fishing, farming, IT, construction and high tech manufacturing often need more experienced people than a small country can immediately provide.
And that’s where immigration can help.
Despite positive initiatives to place Kiwis into those growing jobs it is necessary now, and likely for the foreseeable future, that part of that employment demand will need to be met from overseas.
To restrict that would put our strong positive growth at risk and cost Kiwi jobs and export earnings.
We’ve seen a strong turnaround in net migration, from a net outflow of around 4,100 in the year to February 2012, to a net inflow of 71,300 in the year to February 2017.
It’s important to look behind the headline numbers and identify the main drivers of that turnaround which are:9,000 more Kiwis returning home and 28,000 fewer leaving making up around half of that change. 21,000 additional Working Holiday Visa holders 7,000 more international students arrivals 3,000 more Australians moving here each year
These areas alone account for around 58,000 people each year.
We, of course, can’t stop Kiwis from returning home – and we don’t want to.
And there are areas we are cautious about restricting due to the possible negative impacts.
Restricting the number of working holiday makers for example, would have a reciprocal effect on New Zealanders wanting to travel or study abroad.
And cutting international students would have a major impact on one of our most successful industries and our fifth largest export earner.
But while we don’t want to stop Kiwis returning to New Zealand, there are other migration pathways that we can and do actively control.
We constantly monitor and change the settings depending on the number of people wanting to move here, and the need for international labour.
And today I want to take you through some new steps to control both the number and quality of people migrating to New Zealand.
The areas I think would be of most interest and concern to the public are the numbers of people gaining residence or obtaining temporary work visas where it is necessary to pass the labour market test.
Interestingly, while demand for Residence Visas has no doubt increased, volume is controlled by the planning range settings that ensure the numbers are maintained at the long term average.
As I have said before, we have a Kiwis first policy but it’s not always possible to find Kiwis to do the work. Earlier this year, I spent a few weeks visiting the regions where they are screaming out for more workers.
You will have heard me talk about the barriers to employment that exist for some New Zealanders – location, skills, training, attitude, drugs and alcohol.
This Government has done more than any other to ensure those barriers are removed, and for some those barriers are significant. But we don’t give up on them. We are continuing to increase the number of youth in training and employment. But it the meantime, the fruit needs to be picked, the grapes harvested and employers need the workers do those jobs.
That’s why we have labour market tested temporary visas known as Essential Skills Work Visas. As you will know, this is when employers are required to prove that there is no Kiwi ready and available to do the job.
And it is the trend of these types of visas that I believe are the best proxy for whether there is labour market displacement occurring.
Much of the commentary I referred to earlier would also have you believe that the number of Essential Skills visas being issued had increased. In fact, until last year the volume of these visas had steadily decreased by more than a third since the National-led Government came to office.
We are determined to ensure that Kiwis benefit from our growing economy and labour market, and we are working closely with industries that rely on overseas workers to ensure they are diligent in their workforce planning, attraction and retention of New Zealand workers as a prerequisite to accessing overseas labour.
Most of those industries would say that it has actually become more difficult to recruit from overseas. And the Government makes no apology for this. We are absolutely committed to the principle of Kiwis first.
However, it’s about more than just the number of work visas issued. It’s about the conditions that are set for those workers and ensuring that the duration of stay and the likelihood of a pathway to residence is clearly understood.
A material number of Visa holders have been here for many years, despite having little or no chance of gaining residence. It is important that we continue to allow access to overseas labour where necessary, but to ensure that those workers are clear about their future prospects.
Immigration policy, under successive governments, has been about making medium-term settings and accepting that there are fluctuations in migration around that.
Recent NZRP changes
Because of the increase in demand, in October last year we made some changes to immigration settings to keep on top of the number of people gaining residence in New Zealand.
We increased the number of points required to gain residence under the Skilled Migrant Category,
We toughened English language rules and suspended the Parent category for new residents.
These changes will both stop the growth in residence numbers and prioritise access for higher-skilled migrants - striking the right balance between attracting skilled workers that allow companies to grow and controlling immigration in a period of strong growth.
Early evidence suggests the changes are working. The bar has been raised, and the number of people being selected to apply for residence has dropped by almost 50 per cent.
It’s a little early to say whether or not that reduction will be permanent, but there is no doubt that those changes have had the effect of both controlling the number, while at the same time increasing the average skill level of our skilled migrants.
And the net inward migration numbers have now plateaued, rather than increasing.
Migration has remained at higher levels for longer than most forecasters expected, but in certain sectors there is a genuine need for those migrants to help fill skill shortages.
It is important that we are attracting the right people, with the right skills. That’s why we constantly monitor our immigration settings to ensure they are fit for purpose.
So where the changes in October largely focused on the number of migrants, I’m pleased to announce today further changes to further control the number and improve the quality of new migrants coming to New Zealand.
Introducing Remuneration Bands
Firstly, we plan to introduce remuneration thresholds for both permanent and temporary skilled migrants.
Remuneration is an excellent proxy for skills - and will complement the qualifications and occupation framework to ensure the Skilled Migrant Category selects higher-skilled and higher-paid migrants.
Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced.
The first remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income – around $49,000 per year.
Anyone who earns less than that amount will no longer be classified as highly-skilled – regardless of whether their job may have been classified that way previously.
Permanent residence applicants will no longer be able to claim points for jobs that are considered skilled but are paid below the median income.
We are also proposing that those eligible for a temporary ‘Essential Skills’ work visa but who earn less than the threshold will still be able to work here, however they will be limited to a maximum time in country duration of three years.
Partners and children of these lower-skilled work visa holders are presently able to obtain open work visas and student visas that allow them to attend primary and secondary school in New Zealand as domestic students.
Under these changes, we propose that partners and children will be able to come to New Zealand as visitors and will only gain a work visa if they meet visa requirements in their own right.
We also propose that those occupations that are seasonal in nature will have visas issued for the duration of the season, rather than for twelve months as is presently the case. We will be consulting with industries to ascertain what occupations would fall into that category.
Together, these changes aim to encourage higher-skilled workers to come to New Zealand, so a second threshold will also be set at one and a half times the median income – around $73,000 per year.
Anyone who earns more than that amount will automatically be classified as highly skilled.
Permanent residence applicants will be allowed to claim points for jobs that are not currently considered skilled, but are paid above the higher threshold.
And temporary work visa holders earning over the threshold will automatically be classified as higher- skilled, meaning they will not be subject to the same time in country constraints as those considered lower-skilled.
Introducing these thresholds is about creating a balance – a balance between ensuring employers can meet genuine labour shortages by using people from overseas, while at the same time ensuring those lower skilled migrants are coming here with a clear understanding of their visa conditions.
In fact, there will be some workers who are now likely to be eligible for residence for the first time such as outdoor adventure instructors, heavy machinery operators and experienced workers in the construction and oil and gas industry.
Migrants already in New Zealand should know that they would not be immediately affected - the new requirements would only apply to visa applications made after the policy is introduced.
I also want to make it crystal clear that employers will be able to continue using migrant labour when they can demonstrate a real labour or skills shortage and that they cannot find New Zealanders for the job.
But we’re also setting a challenge to employers to take on more New Zealanders and invest in the training needed to upskill them.
South Island Pathway to Residence
I also want to cover one final issue.
As a result of the sustained demand for labour, there has been a significant growth in the number of lower-skilled temporary migrants in the South Island who help fill genuine labour shortages and have become well-settled here.
In fact there are around 4,000 migrant workers and their families who have been living in the South Island for more than five years, but who have little likelihood of gaining residence under current settings.
So, on top of the proposed changes I’ve just announced to our temporary migration settings which will prevent this situation from reoccurring, I’m pleased to also announce a new policy to provide a one-off pathway to residence for those lower-skilled temporary migrants already in the South Island.
Eligible migrants will be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which will make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay in the same industry and region.
Many of these migrants are already well settled in New Zealand and make a valuable contribution to their communities. The requirement to remain in the same region for a further two years after being granted residence ensures that commitment to the region continues.
This last announcement delivers on the Government’s 2015 commitment to provide this group of people with a pathway to residence, and enables employers to retain an experienced workforce that has helped meet genuine regional labour market needs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bill English led-Government has a clear plan for the future, with a focus on building our regions and supporting our sectors to grow.
And our immigration settings have a key role to play in achieving that. But it’s important that we continue to control both the number and quality of people migrating to New Zealand.
The changes announced today are about striking the right balance between enabling employers to continue to access migrant labour where there are genuine skills shortages and improving the quality of new migrants coming to New Zealand.
They also reinforce the temporary nature of work visas which will help reduce expectations of settlement from temporary migrants with no pathway to residence.
Permanent and temporary migrants make a significant contribution to our economy and the Government is committed to maximising that contribution by focusing on the selection, attraction and retention of higher-skilled migrants.
We’re confident that these changes will help improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent labour migration.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a one-off pathway to residence for around 4,000 long-term temporary migrant workers and their families living in the South Island.
“There has been a significant growth in the number of lower-skilled temporary migrants in the South Island who help fill genuine labour shortages and have become well-settled here,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, due to current temporary migration settings, many of these lower-skilled temporary migrants have no pathway to residence.
“Today’s announcement delivers on our 2015 commitment to provide that group of migrants in the South Island with a pathway to residence.
“The policy will allow eligible migrants to be granted an initial Work to Residence temporary visa, which would make them eligible for residence in two more years provided they stay in the same industry and region.
“Many of these migrants are already well settled in New Zealand and make a valuable contribution to their communities. The requirement to remain in the same region for a further two years after being granted residence ensures that commitment to the region continues.
“It will also enable employers to retain an experienced workforce that has helped meet genuine regional labour market needs.
“My National colleagues in the South Island have advocated strongly on behalf their constituents throughout the development of this policy, so I’m pleased the Government has been able to deliver on our commitment to enable this cohort of migrant workers to remain in their communities.”
To be eligible, temporary visa holders must:Currently be on an Essential Skills visa for a job in the South Island and have been on one in the South Island for five years or more. Be 55 years old or younger Hold current employment that is full-time and meets market rates and their employers would need to have no significant adverse record with the Labour Inspectorate or INZ. Meet standard residence health and character requirements.
For more information, visit www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/south-island-pathway.