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Months of confusion and uncertainty about the Government’s immigration policy will barely be quelled by today’s half-baked announcement, National’s Immigration Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Businesses and the international education industry have been desperate for clarity and while the Government has finally provided some detail about its policy, what remains uncertain is exactly how big an impact the Government’s changes will have.

“Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said they could result in $260 million in lost revenue, and that they could affect between 12,000 to 16,000 people – but has been unable to say exactly what the drop in annual net migration will be.

“He is therefore unable to say what impact the changes might have on the jobs of New Zealanders working in the international education industry which employs over 30,000 people.

“But what we can be certain about is that these changes will be ineffective in delivering the big election promises Labour made about significantly reducing the number of international students by between 15,000 and 22,000 a year.

“And that’s a good thing. National repeatedly told Labour that its election policy would gut New Zealand’s international education industry which is worth around $4.5 billion to our economy, and the changes our Government made to improve the quality of international education were already having an impact on reducing the number of students coming in.

“The changes announced today simply tinker around the edges to give the impression that Labour is delivering on its drum-beating call to cut immigration, while doing barely more than sticking the boot into one of our largest export earners.

“It’s clear that this is a broken promise – one that National welcomes, but it’s worth asking why Labour chose to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment prior to the election with promises it never intended to keep.”

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