NZ Election 2020: Labour will relax COVID-19 border rules to allow more skilled workers in if re-elected

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand's COVID-19 border rules will be relaxed to allow more skilled workers into the country should Labour be re-elected, the Prime Minister has promised.

Jacinda Ardern said a review of immigration criteria would be carried out, which would allow more workers into the country amid efforts to balance the country's economic recovery with the health of Kiwis during the pandemic.

Labour's new policy would also see 10 percent of places in New Zealand managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) quota set aside for critical workers, and the creation of an Investment Attraction Strategy to encourage high-value overseas investment.

"Labour will continue to operate strict border controls to protect New Zealanders' health, but we know we also have to manage New Zealand's economic need for skilled workers to help the country's recovery," she said.

"We will ensure people with unique experience and technical or specialist skills that are not readily obtainable can enter the country safely. We're doing this so that we don't hold back economic opportunities in our recovery."

Labour's Immigration spokesperson Kris Faafoi said the party plans to work with businesses, industries and the primary sector to identify where there is genuine need for critical and skilled workers.

Border exception settings would then be altered to "ensure their entry path is streamlined and remains safe", he explained.

"At the same time, we'll review where further adjustments and improvements can be made to expand eligibility for people who can bring their skills and investment to New Zealand enterprise and help the recovery."

Labour's Investment Attraction Strategy, designed to encourage targeted international investment, would see funding for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and the Innovative Partnerships programme increase.

These Government agencies, who work with companies to invest in New Zealand and shift part of their business here, would receive an additional $6 million each per year.

What Labour's promising

  • A 10 percent quota for critical workers as we further develop the allocation system for managed isolation places 

  • A review of immigration criteria to enable a broader range of workers to enter New Zealand

  • A new Investment Attraction Strategy to encourage targeted and high-value international investment into New Zealand