Immigration (covid-19 response) Amendment Bill

The Regions presents our submission in support of the proposed Immigration (covid-19 response) amendments.

Immigration (covid-19 response) Amendment Bill

6th May 2020
By email: i.lees-galloway@ministers.govt.nz

To whom it may concern,

We are an Immigration & Recruitment firm that primarily support the dairy sector. Based on the information available online amidst the Government wage subsidy, we are the largest Immigration firm in NZ by a considerable margin. We are an internal team of 40 with branches across NZ and over 2,200 candidates on work visas milking cows on clients farms. We have over 85 offshore visa’s submitted, seeking INZ approval for people to come to NZ for the first time this dairy season. Prior to Covid 19 disruptions we had over 300 additional requested engagements from employers wanting to hire NZ new staff this dairy season. We also represent over 50 employers who have existing staff “on holiday” and stuck outside NZ, who under normal circumstances reside inside NZ on a work, or work to residence visa. Vacancies exist on our clients farms because the dairy industry doubled in size in the last 20 years, the our cows are located in our rural corners, while
most of our people are located urban centres. We do, in principal support the proposed amendments – it is logical to amend regulations built for a different time and place, to better fit the current situation we live and work in.

We suggest the following contextual considerations, when implementing changes to The Act.

– Calving, where the number of stock on our dairy farms double for a 3 to 4 month period, is 1 to 2 months away depending on dairy farms location, the industry faces a disturbing number of vacancies across the nation’s farms totalling at least 1,000 across NZ. Urgent help is needed for these farm owners & managers to ensure they do not face unnecessary Animal Welfare, Environment & Health and Safety issues due to being understaffed.

– There are a large number of work visa holders inside NZ, displaced from their previous job & region due to Covid 19, we support an Agriculture class visa approval, allowing Essential Service operators in the Primary Industries to hire work visa holders from other industries for a period of 12 months, providing that person has been displaced from employment due to Covid 19, and that standard NZ Employment terms are offered. All clients we have spoken to commit to providing self isolating accommodation for 14 days when any new staff member
arrives on farm. Work Visa holders who have lost their jobs due to Covid 19 see little to no support from their embassies, limited ability to exit NZ, and are ineligible for NZ Govt & MSD support. Economic & social issues will occur if this group are not allowed to take up work. Agriculture, supermarkets & health care among other industries are begging for people to join their work forces amidst Covid 19 related disruptions.

Border Entry Exemptions for Agriculture staff to re-enter/ enter NZ for a 12 month period are granted within an Agriculture class border entry approval. Meat and Milk make up over 33% of NZ’s exports commodities, Primary Industry production is at the heart of NZ’s economic & social recovery, and the short time between the proposed amendments to the bill & calving means that NZ unemployment numbers are unknown & the willingness for local applicants who live in urban NZ, to consider moving to rural NZ will not occur on a significant enough scale in the next 2 months to fill the industry needs. We hope the coming 1 to 2 years see more locals try farming as a career, however we need policy to deal with present day, and as the current amendment consultation show, future policy can be fluid to deal with future labour markets and industry needs. We support that arrivals to NZ immediately enter a use pays Quarantine facility for a period of 14 days to ensure no risk to the NZ public.

Regards,
Ben De’ Ath (LLB, BA)
Managing Director
LIA 201401414

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