At The Regions we have opened the door on policy change and submitted our summary as part of the open public and stakeholder consultation process against the proposed stand down policy. You have until Monday 18 March to do the same! NZ Residence being accessible, Stand down to be repealed, 36 month visas more accessible and family reunification a reality!
Last year we took a stand. A stand against the Stand Down – a proposed policy change that would see low skilled work visa holders stood down after three consecutive years on a one-year work visa.
With your support, and the support of thousands of dairy farmers, farmworkers and people who, like us, are dedicated to the betterment of New Zealand, our stand became a petition with over 7,400 signatures.
In December, with the support of Barbara Kuriger MP and Chris Lewis of Federated Farmers, we presented our petition to Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway who, not less than two weeks later, opened the stand down policy for public and stakeholder consultation.
Time to make a submission
That consultation is currently open and all public and stakeholders wishing to make a submission have until Monday 18 March to do so. At The Regions, we have put forward a submission, strongly advocating for the proposed Stand Down policy to be revoked.
It has too many implications for New Zealand’s agricultural industry and the ongoing effects of standing down loyal, hardworking and experienced farmworkers when the sector is desperately seeking qualified labour, are too great.
We want to see the Government’s pre-election promise of regionalising our skills shortage list and we want to see greater access to New Zealand residence for mid-level dairy staff. We also want New Zealand Immigration to better recognise the skill base of the migrants entering our country, taking up demanding and highly skilled agricultural jobs. We believe this is key for the betterment of New Zealand’s farming industry, our rural communities, and our country as a whole.
Predictions of change
So, with just over one week left before the consultation closes on the proposed stand down, what can we expect?
We are quietly confident (though are yet to uncross our fingers) that the policy will not go ahead. The 7,400+ signatures indicated a real desire by New Zealanders, and those who would be directly affected by it, that this policy was simply not viable long-term.
We also have our fingers (and toes) crossed that our second petition point, to regionalise our skills shortage list, will come into effect. This is important because it would deliver on the government’s pre election promise, and help each region of NZ have their Immigration policy settings focused on where they need people the most.
We also hope, and have been told by numerous different sources, that we are likely to see families of “low-skilled” work visa holders allowed to enter New Zealand.
We strongly agree with the Immigration Minister’s recommendation that 36 month visas ought be granted in the tightest of labour markets based on region and role. We continually struggle with this term. It is not correct and no farmworker migrating to New Zealand should be deemed ‘low skilled’ such derogatory terms towards anyone are not appropriate, and run counter to this government’s claims of being compassionate. We intend to make one final push to have the ‘low skilled’ terminology substituted with something more appropriate.
We are also seeing all Government commentary on this system move towards an employer focus, seeking accreditation (employer specific approval). We predict accreditation will be mandatory for some, perhaps all businesses employing migrants. Once accredited, however, employers can sponsor staff who earn the required salary, to work to residence visas followed by residence visas without having abstract ANZSCO definitions or misguided levels of English assessed.
We can recall in years gone by, farms struggling to meet the immigration threshold for accreditation, and we want to commend this government for moving policy towards rewarding the best employers and accepting farmers as suitable employers, eligible to sponsor residence for their valued and highly skilled staff.
Open door for policy change
We have successfully opened the door for policy change, but we also know how fickle the winds of Government can be. We will continue to work for the betterment of our clients, for the betterment of our migrants coming to work and live in New Zealand, and for the betterment of New Zealand’s dairy industry.
It is not too late to make your submission. You have until Monday 18 March to continue your stand against the stand down. Our publicly released summary stating our position on the stand down policy is available on our website.
Together, we can – and will – make a change.