Government doesn't have a number to aim for with immigration

Labour's initial estimates for cutting immigration have not made their way through to coalition Government policy, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says.

Initially, the party had planned to drop immigration by 20-30,000 in its 2017 election policy, but Lees-Galloway told Newshub Nation there's no actual Government target.

"That was our estimate, but it was never a target... and there is no Government target for net migration, and we've got to remember, you know, the context for all our immigration decisions, our economic migration decisions, is New Zealand has a strong economy right now. Unemployment is very low."

Lees-Galloway said the New Zealand First plan to drop immigration to 10,000 a year was also not part of the Government's plan.

"I work on what the Government's plan is... We are managing the immigration system in a much stricter fashion than the previous Government did to make sure that we're getting people into the right parts of the country, and that we're focussed on the people with the skills that we need to grow our economy."

Migration has dropped since the change of Government, it peaked at a net migration of 70,000 in the year ending December 2017 and dropped to 48,000 the following year.

Lees-Galloway said he's not focussing on the number of people coming in to New Zealand, but rather what kind of skills immigrants have and where they settle.

"We actually have to make sure that we have our immigration settings in the right place - that they support sustainable, inclusive, productive growth. 

"And that means growth based on real economic growth, not growth based on housing speculation and population growth, which is what National focussed on. 

"So our changes are designed to make sure the immigration system supports those. We're not fixated on the number, it's about getting the right people with the right skills in the right part of the country."