Obstinate policy keeps our migrant families uncertain

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Migrants protest in New Delhi demanding right to return to New Zealand (Source: Facebook)

David Seymour
May 14, 2022

While much has recently been made of our borders finally reopening and being able to welcome visitors back to New Zealand, spare a thought for the many New Zealanders who have not been able to take part due to our shameful refusal to let people from non-visa waiver countries enter.

667,000 New Zealanders were born in non-visa waiver countries, that is 14% of our population unable to welcome their loved ones to New Zealand by virtue of being born in India, Sri Lanka or China.

Shutting ourselves off like this goes against the Kiwi way of life. We are an island nation of immigrants, and it is the infusion of new people and new ideas that allows us to punch above our weight in many areas. It would be a tragedy if people decided to leave, or not come here in the first place, because of our shut off border.

Simple message needed

Now the government has announced that visitors from non-visa waiver countries will be able to apply to return, but not until July.

The announcement from the government should have been simple and portray one message – that we are moving on from Covid and everyone is welcome back to New Zealand.

Instead, as far as this government is concerned, if you happen to be from India, Sri Lanka or China, you cannot apply until July. Considering the current processing times by Immigration New Zealand, there is a possibility that you might not get into the country this side of Christmas.

ACT has called on the government to move on from border restrictions and open the country back up to everyone; that is the right thing to do.

ACT Party Leader David Seymour

Sufferings of people

My inbox has been flooded with correspondence from great people who have come from non-visa waiver countries to make New Zealand their home and have suffered immense personal sacrifice due to the continued closing of the border. It is emotional and disappointing to read stories of people not being able to farewell dying loved ones, attend weddings, and witness births. We need to do better as a nation and look after those who have come here for a shot at a better life. My heart goes out to all that have been affected.

Hermit Kingdom

Throughout Covid, our border restrictions have earned us a global reputation as the Hermit Kingdom., It is hard to see us shaking that tag when we persist in shutting communities out with no explanation why they are not allowed and when they can come into the country.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has described this past week as our “reconnection with the world,” but I challenge him that it is not a true reconnection until all New Zealanders can welcome friends and family to our nation.

ACT has long called for more balance in our response to Covid. We acknowledge the risk that Covid brings, but at what point do restrictions become more damaging than the virus itself?

The government has consistently failed to weigh up the costs of these decisions and act in the best interests of Kiwis.

ACT will keep challenging the government to open our borders to the rest of the world.

No one wins in the Hermit Kingdom, and we owe it to our multicultural society to open up to everyone, regardless of where they were born.

David Seymour is the Leader of the ACT Party and elected Member of Parliament from Epsom.

Our Staff Reporter adds:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on May 11, 2022, a series of changes to the Immigration settings that will increasingly see the return of tourists, visitors and international students. The following are the highlights of the changes: Border fully open two months early from 11:59 pm on 31 July; Significantly simplified immigration processes that provide faster processing for businesses; New Green List that includes over 85 hard to fill roles created to attract and retain high-skilled workers to fill skill shortages; The Green List will provide streamlined and prioritised pathway to residency incentivising high skilled healthcare, engineers, trade and tech sector workers to relocate to New Zealand long term; Visa extensions for around 20,000 migrants already in New Zealand to ensure skilled workers stay in the country. New sector-specific agreements, to help industries transition from a reliance on low-wage, low skill migrant labour, including additional measures to support the rebuild of our tourism sector

Cruise ships able to return with the opening of the maritime border from 31 July; Full resumption of international education from 31 July; Apprenticeship Boost extended to the end of 2023, supporting an extra 38,000 New Zealanders into trades; Online visitor visa applications reopen to Pacific Island Forum countries (excluding Australia) from 16 May 2022.


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