The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:
National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.
“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.
“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.
“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.
We need them and they need their families.
“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.
“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.
“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.
“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.
“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.
“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.”
The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.
Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.
Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.
The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.
It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.
Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.
“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . .
Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:
Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.
The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.
Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.
With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.
Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.
“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.
“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”
Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said.
The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . .
It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.
The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.
Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.