Immigration criteria must change

February 12, 2019

Nelson firefighter, Steve Webster,  and his family are facing deportation:

An online petition is pushing for a firefighter fighting the Nelson blaze to be spared deportation.

The petition ‘Stop the Deportation of Steve Webster from NZ’ was set up on Change.org yesterday by friend and former volunteer firefighter Ken Mahon.

Mahon said he began the online petition at 3pm yesterday – without telling Webster – after he saw new social media photo of Webster all dirty from fighting the Tasman fires and decided he had to do something. . . 

Steve and Gail Webster moved to Nelson from the United Kingdom in 2012 with their two teenage daughters.

As well as being a volunteer firefighter, the couple own Earthbloom Flower Shop in Nelson and Steve is a car salesman.

In 2016 the Nelson Weekly reported the family had their bid for permanent residency turned down in early April that year. They were told they had to be out of the country by midnight on Friday May 20.

Just 48 hours before that deadline, Steve received an email at midnight on Wednesday saying they had been given a 12-month essential skills work visa, Nelson Weekly reported.

However, Mahon said the family had again landed themselves in a fight against immigration after they had been given until June this year to leave the country.

“They have worked very hard at getting their business up and running but unfortunately it hasn’t met the requirements by immigration in the timeframe,” he said.

“It is a bit rough really. They give a lot to the community, have a lot of support out there, and are well liked.

“It is just not fair. Why does this always happen to the good people in life?”

Aucklanders have rallied to support another business person facing deportation:

The community is fighting to save the family of seven from being sent overseas. Credits: Newshub.

Hundreds of people have rallied in Auckland on Sunday in support of a Ukrainian family facing deportation.

Nataliya Shchetkova and her family thought New Zealand would be their home forever.

After they arrived here six years ago, they bought La Vista, a popular restaurant in Auckland’s St Helier. They now employ 17 full-time staff – up from nine when they bought it.

But Immigration NZ says the business does not add enough benefit to New Zealand by creating sustained and on-going employment over and above the existing level of employment.

The family of seven have been denied residency and told they should start planning to leave by July 1 – including selling their restaurant if necessary. . . 

She has almost doubled the staff employed and that’s still not enough?

These two cases are particularly troubling when only after political and public pressure did Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway reverse his decision to give residency to a convicted criminal.

If immigration criteria doesn’t allow families like the Websters and Shchetkovas who are making positive contributions in business and the community to stay then the criteria is wrong and must change.

 


Immigration good but

December 5, 2018

National is generally supportive of immigration, but not without limits:

 National would pull New Zealand out of the UN’s Global Compact on Migration because of its potential to restrict New Zealand’s ability to set its own migration and foreign policy, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

“National is supportive of global action on major issues and of migration into New Zealand because it brings skills, capital and connections and makes New Zealand a better, more diverse place. And we support the ability for New Zealanders to travel and live and work overseas should they choose.

“But immigration policy is solely a matter for individual countries and must take account of their individual circumstances – and New Zealand’s policies are already held up as international best practice. There is no automatic right to migrate to another country without that country’s full agreement, a view which the United Nation’s Global Compact on Migration, set to be signed next week, seeks to counter.

Immigration is generally positive but not without limits.

“While not binding, the Compact could restrict the ability of future governments to set immigration and foreign policy, and to decide on which migrants are welcome and which aren’t. While National is the party most open to immigration, we cannot accept this.

A government must have the right to say which and how many immigrants cross its borders.

Any restriction on that is a restriction on a country’s sovereignty.

”This Government’s own immigration policy is weak and confused, including its unfulfilled campaign promises to slash immigration. Signing up to this only clouds things further – like its working groups the Government appears to be relying on the UN to set its migration policy rather than making its own decisions.

“While a number of countries are pulling out of the agreement as the extent of its potential impact on the decision-making of individual countries is realised, our Government is refusing to outline its own position.

“For these reasons, National will not be supporting this agreement and we will reverse the decision if this Government signs up to it.”

The government has yet to decide whether or not it will sign up to the compact.

Several countries including Australia, the USA, Hungary, Austria Poland and Switzerland have declined support.

 

 


Lees-Galloway changes mind

November 28, 2018

Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway has changed his mind about Karel Sroubek:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has reversed his decision to grant conviction drug smuggler Karel Sroubek residency.

An Immigration New Zealand (INZ) probe into the drug smuggler found he was liable for deportation on grounds not previously considered. These included Czech convictions under his real name.

“He is being removed because he never had a visa in the first place.”

Lees-Galloway said public trust and confidence had been damaged and he took responsibility for it and for fixing it. He apologised to the prime minister but did not offer his resignation. . . 

The Minister is responsible for the damage to public trust and confidence in both the system and him.

How on earth he could have given residency to anyone who had been convicted of crimes when so many worthy, law abiding would-be residents are turned down defies logic.

 


Incompetent or ?

November 9, 2018

A decision to deport a convicted criminal could be made in a very few minutes.

A decision to give residency to one needs a lot more time than it got:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway made the decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency in less than an hour.

The revelation has led to calls from the Opposition for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sack her Immigration Minister.

Lees-Galloway said he did not read the full file on the Czech drug smuggler, and instead “read the aspects of the file that I thought were necessary to make the decision that I made”. . .

How can you know what you need to read to make a decision if you don’t read all the information you have?

“I took the information that I had and I took the time that I felt was necessary. I read various aspects of the full file. I didn’t rely solely on the summary.” . . 

Various aspects? That’s not the full file and it defies belief that he could have read even some of the information that has made this decision so inexplicable and granted residency.

National Leader Simon Bridges has renewed his call for the Prime Minister to sack Lees-Galloway over the “careless decision” after Lees-Galloway claimed he carefully considered all the relevant information.

He allowed a drug dealing gang associate to remain in New Zealand without reading all the information available to him, Bridges said.

“Either Lees-Galloway has misled the Prime Minister or she’s misled New Zealanders.

“The Prime Minister has defended that decision for the past two weeks, telling New Zealanders it was a ‘difficult decision’ but that she had been assured by Lees-Galloway he had given it ‘careful consideration’.

“We now know he hadn’t.”

An hour was not careful consideration of what was a dangerous decision and it was not acceptable due diligence from a senior Cabinet Minister, he said.

“Lees-Galloway’s credibility is now shot. The Prime Minister cannot expect the public to have confidence in any of his decisions given his careless approach to Sroubek’s residency.

“The Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Lees-Galloway from Cabinet immediately.”

Woodhouse said Lees-Galloway had arrogantly refused to reveal the evidence upon which he made his decision, saying it was not in the public interest.

“He insisted it was a complicated decision not taken lightly.

“The Prime Minister even went as far as saying Lees-Galloway ‘shared with me the careful consideration that he gave this case… it was clearly a very difficult decision’. Only clearly it wasn’t,” Woodhouse said.

The evidence was now overwhelming that Lees-Galloway didn’t do his job, he said.

“It is now clear he made that call without asking questions and without proper consideration of the facts or the track record of the convicted criminal he was allowing to stay. Sroubek needs to go and Lees-Galloway does too.” . . 

To have read all the relevant information and made that decision indicates gross incompetence or something conspiracy theorists would delight in.


People we want

October 31, 2018

They came to New Zealand in their early 20s.

She was on a student visa, they had a daughter while they were here then had to leave when their visa ran out in spite of several attempts to stay.

They returned he gained a visa to work on a dairy farm, bringing their young kiwi daughter and a son born overseas with them.

Each time they could they applied for residency but were turned down although his work visa continued to be renewed.

FInally last year, after a change of rules by National, they were granted residency.

By this time they’d lived here for 12 years, both had worked hard and their children had gone through school and on to university.

They are good people who have contributed and will continue to contribute positively to New Zealand.

The second couple are professionals who had worked in several countries, gained business visas and invested a lot of money in a high-end tourism business.

Both joined community organisations and one, used his many skills to do a lot of work marketing New Zealand overseas.

They nearly lost their investment and their home when their application for residency was turned down.

After a lot of stress and a lot of work, they gained residency.

They continue to run a successful business, play an active role in local organisations and promote New Zealand internaitonally.

These are good people who will more than repay New Zealand through the positive contribution they make to the community and economy.

Both of these couples are the sort of people New Zealand needs and are only two of many who would make wonderful citizens but can’t get residency.

Why do people like this have to struggle so hard to stay here when   a convicted criminal has ministerial dispensation to stay?

. . .Jan Antolik, whose real name is Karel Sroubek, was jailed for five years for importing nearly 5kg of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy, with a street value of $375,000.

Mr Lees-Galloway said the decision to grant residency was made after careful consideration of all the information available at the time and that the man’s stay in the country was subject to significant conditions.

He said he can’t discuss the reasons he granted him residency for privacy and legal reasons.

But he has released a letter he wrote to Mr Sroubek, outlining the conditions he must abide by in order to stay in New Zealand.

They include not reoffending, not using a fraudulent identity or misleading a government agency within the next five years.

The letter also noted Mr Sroubek had been given a residency visa previously, but that was under a false identity.

Mr Lees-Galloway says he made the decision in light of the “full view of information” presented to him, and was not made lightly. . . 

David Farrar give his full background and the parole board’s reasons for declining his application for early release.

If he was being returned to a country without the rule of law it would be easier to understand the decision.

But the Czech Republic is in the EU and if he’s unsafe there he could go to any other EU country.

This decision is a slap in the face to the many deserving would-be residents who are turned down and poses a potential risk to us all.


When locals won’t work . . .

August 18, 2018

The Meatworkers’ Union isn’t happy that Alliance Group is bringing in  100 overseas workers for its Southland plants.

New Zealand Meatworkers Union said there were plenty of local workers vying for jobs that could now be going to overseas workers.

However, the company is standing firm. It said it was recruiting abroad to cover a worker shortage. . . 

The union’s Otago-Southland secretary Gary Davis said the decision would hit some Southland families hard.

The seasonal work often meant workers would finish at one plant and go to the other for additional work, Mr Davis said.

“If these people are brought in from overseas they’ll get a job there so they’ll fill in those positions.”

About 30 people could miss out on the additional work, he said. . .

Good local workers were applying to work at the plants, but they were being rejected, he said.

There was not enough education, training or support to assist more Southland workers to enter the industry, he said. . . 

The company has a different story.

Alliance Group refused to be interviewed today but in a statement, manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese said employing and upskilling New Zealanders was always their preference.

Sourcing seasonal workers remained one of its biggest challenges, despite running extensive recruitment campaigns.

Unemployment is now down to a level where most of those out of work don’t want to, or can’t, work.

Challenges in the meat industry include getting enough workers who are drug and alcohol free and who want to work the whole season.

Meat company workers earn big money for a few months and some of them decide they have earned enough part way through the season and no longer want to work full time, if at all.

The company might prefer to employ and train locals but it they won’t work it has to look for overseas workers who will.


If locals won’t work

March 15, 2018

An urgent call for fruit pickers in Hawkes Bay attracted just 14 applicants.

A concerted effort to find fruit pickers in Hawke’s Bay saw just 14 people express an interest and has resulted in the declaration of a regional labour shortage . . .

Gary Jones of Pipfruit NZ said the low unemployment rate meant there was strong competition for workers.

“There are at least 350 registered vacancies at the moment. The real number is likely to be higher than that,” Jones. . . .

Monday’s declaration means visitors presently in the country who did not have a work visa would be able to apply for a variation to their visitor’s visa allowing them to undertake seasonal work in the horticulture/viticulture industries for 6 weeks.

“This will now enable us to access as many available seasonal workers as possible to help harvest our fruit crops in Hawke’s Bay. Once the season is over, employers will be looking to offer permanent jobs to suitable New Zealand workers,” Jones said.

Jones said pickers were paid “well above the minimum wage” ($15.75 an hour) and the pay for those working in the packhouses depended on experience. . .

Hawkes Bay isn’t the only place where orchards can’t get local staff.

An employer in another region offered transport for staff from neighbouring towns and provided a creche. He also offered bonuses to those who would work five days but still couldn’t get enough locals.

One reason some didn’t apply or started and didn’t stay was drug testing.

What to do about them is another issue for which there are no simple solutions.

But the business couldn’t afford the risk of accidents from drug impaired staff and the only way to ensure workers were drug-free was testing.

There may be other reasons locals won’t work but the employer had done everything he could to attract them.

That left him dependent on immigrants.

His business couldn’t survive without them and as the Hawkes Bay orchard experience shows it’s not an isolated problem.

If businesses can’t get locals who are willing and able to work, they need immigrants to keep their businesses in business.


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