Immigration delays hit South - Whats on Invers column

Originally published as a column in Whats on Invers

Government delays in opening our borders is having a negative impact on Southland’s economy.

Southland’s small and medium-sized businesses are desperate for staff, with Omicron absences forcing many to temporarily close, or operate on reduced hours.

This has impacted financially and created much uncertainty, with a recent RetailNZ survey showing more than a third of small businesses fear they won’t survive the year.

Large businesses like the Alliance Group have also been hit with staff shortages forcing big financial losses, while the Government’s been unable to get immigrant meat workers into the country on time.

Nationwide the meat industry is short around 2000 workers – the Government last week decided to allow just 500 overseas workers into NZ. 

The dairy sector is also desperate for more staff, but again the Government has again failed to deliver with border-class exemptions only filling one third of industry requirements.

Staff shortages have also hit our local hospital, another disaster which could have been averted had the Government acted more quickly in allowing overseas trained nurses here, while our aged-care sector, also experiencing a chronic workforce shortage, could have benefitted from overseas staff.

Overall the Government’s border exceptions have proved inefficient, with many allocations not bringing in the numbers promised, due to the overly bureaucratic process.

National is calling on the Immigration Minister to bring forward the employer accredited work visa scheme, allowing all sectors access to the skilled workers they need and giving local economies like Southland’s a boost.