Migrant labour in limbo

National’s Nicola Grigg grew up in Mt Somers and is currently the Selwyn MP.

Opinion:

Immigration.

It is by far and away the number one issue people come to me for help with.

Since the border closures over a year ago, members of our community have been left bereft by a system that has shown no flexibility, only callousness.

I have written a countless letters to the Government on behalf of people seeking emergency spots in MIQ for compassionate reasons – often in an attempt to spend days or hours with dying relatives, for migrants wanting to reunite their families, migrants wanting to extend rapidly-expiring visas to stay here and work, or on behalf of business people desperate for migrant workers – and all have fallen on deaf ears.

The Government’s stonewalling on this is simply not good enough.

Right now our migrants have no reason to believe the Government cares whether they stay in New Zealand, or leave.

Since our border closed a year ago, many of our temporary visa holders have had their lives thrown into turmoil and our critical workers – people we invited here to nurse our elderly, rear our calves and teach in our children’s classrooms – are being kept apart from their families.

Kiwi businesses already hurt by Covid-19 have lost vital, highly-specialised workers who had no option but to return to their families because their partners and children couldn’t join them.

Equally, virtually every industry across New Zealand screaming out for migrant workers – whether skilled or unskilled – cannot get them into the country.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 11,000 unused MIQ rooms that could have been better utilised.

National has raised a petition seeking for 12.5 per cent of MIQ beds to be allocated to support the agri sector to address the labour shortage.

Spearheaded by our Immigration spokesperson, Erica Stanford, the National Party called for Parliament’s Education and Workforce Select Committee to open an inquiry into the migrant issues created by Covid-19 and New Zealand’s closed border, as well as Immigration New Zealand’s policy settings and rules.

This was vetoed by Labour.

Many of our migrants have had their lives upended by our closed border and the Government’s inaction is eroding our critical migrant workforce and damaging New Zealand’s reputation abroad.

At a public meeting I held recently, many said they were looking to leave for Australia.

Little wonder.

– National’s Nicola Grigg grew up in Mt Somers and is currently the Selwyn MP.

 

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