Little questions 'immigration mismatch'

  • 16/08/2016
Labour Party leader Andrew Little
Labour Party leader Andrew Little

Labour wants to know why immigrant workers are being given visas to come here while thousands of Kiwis are unemployed.

Party leader Andrew Little says there's "a huge mismatch" going on.

"More than 15,000 people who identify themselves as labourers in New Zealand say they can't get work, yet we've issued work visas to 6500 people to do labouring work," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"I really want to know how that is, I don't understand how Immigration New Zealand is administering the rules."

In Parliament later on Tuesday Mr Little questioned Prime Minister John Key about the figures.

"Can he guarantee work visas are issued only to fill genuine vacancies?" he asked.

Mr Key: "I can guarantee the government looks at where skills are required - the reality is that there are often mismatches of where the demand is and where people live, people won't always move to a new location."

Mr Little earlier called for a review of immigration policy, saying record population growth was pushing up house prices and straining infrastructure.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse responded by saying the policy was under constant review and his department worked with employers to get the skills categories right.

In the last three years, he said, 56 occupations had been taken off the list and only five were added.

NZ First leader Winston Peters, a persistent critic of the government's immigration policy, says reality is starting to hit people squarely in the face.

But he isn't calling for a review.

"A review of immigration is a waste of time - we need to dramatically turn down the tap now," he said.