By Sarah Robson
Changes just announced by the Government to lure more skilled migrants to the regions are a "half measure", Labour says.
Prime Minister John Key unveiled tweaks to immigration rules on Sunday that he hopes will result in more migrants and entrepreneurs settling in areas outside Auckland.
Almost half the 10,000 skilled migrants and their families who take up residence each year settle in Auckland and the government wants to strike a greater balance with other regions.
One option is for skilled migrants to commit to a region for at least 12 months – up from the present three months - in exchange for extra points in their application for residence.
But Labour leader Andrew Little says the plan is a "half measure" that will not work unless it is accompanied by a corresponding proposal to boost economic development in the regions.
"There's no point in doing a measure like this unless it's also accompanied by measures to generate jobs in the regions and provide investment opportunities," he told NZ Newswire.
"That just isn't happening at the moment."
Labour campaigned at the last election on a similar plan to increase incentives to get migrants to move south of the Bombay Hills.
NZ First leader Winston Peters says the Government has copied one of his party's ideas, but he does not think Mr Key's proposal will work.
"When New Zealand First called for incentive bonus points for migrants to go to the regions for at least three years, the National Party said it was a breach of their civil rights," Mr Peters said.
"A 'cut and paste' policy to send migrants to the regions for only one year, and not at least three years as other countries do, simply will have little effect on long-term settlement in the regions."
Most of the Government's changes to immigration rules will come into effect on November 1.