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Immigration reset in offing to draw more workers: PM



Image from Auckland International Airport (Facebook)

Venu Menon
Wellington, April 12, 2023

“We know that the world is currently facing a global health-worker shortage, so it is vital that New Zealand’s immigration settings are not seen as an unnecessary barrier to health workers wanting to make a life here in New Zealand,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told the media following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Hipkins announced that Cabinet had agreed to add 32 new health sector roles to the Green List, which will put them on the straight to residence pathway.

The new roles include enrolled nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, dental technicians, MRI scanning technologists, optometrists, and pharmacists.

They will join midwives and registered nurses already on the Green List straight to residence pathway since December.

Since then, there have been 3,600 health sector applications, including 1,400 nurses, 200 doctors and other specialists, and 95 general practitioners.

“In the same period, we’ve seen nearly 3,000 health professionals arriving in the country,” Hipkins said.

The new settings will kick in from May 29.

Changes to immigration settings are in the offing to offer boat skippers and deckhands a “time-limited” residence pathway similar to that offered to bus and truck drivers last December.

“Our seaside cities’ ferries form an essential part of the public transport system, so it is critical that ferry service operators have access to the workers to enhance the reliability of these services,” Hipkins noted.

“The market rate for skippers is already above the median wage. Operators will need to continue to pay migrant-worker skippers the market rate, and migrant-worker deckhands will need to be paid at least the median wage,” he added.

The prime minister announced a “minor reshuffle of Cabinet,” with Willow-Jean Prime set to join the Cabinet, raising the tally of women ministers to 50 %.

New entrants include Barbara Edmonds (economic development portfolio), Peeni Henare (forestry) and Meka Whaitiri  (cyclone recovery- Hawke’s Bay).

Rachel Brooking will be appointed “as a minister outside of the Cabinet,” who will pick up the oceans and fisheries portfolio.

The prime minister confirmed that COVID-19 settings will remain the same for the next two months.

Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington.

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