“New Zealand immigration that is totally inflexible seems eager to disrupt New Zealand’s food supply chain,” said ACT Immigration spokesman Dr James McDowall and ACT Primary Industries spokesman Mark Cameron.
“The government should be in a foothold now, propping up export revenues from agriculture, but it seems unable to take a sensible approach to the Seasonally Recognized Entrepreneur (RSE) scheme,” said Dr McDowall.
“Instead it complicates the scheme and dictates how they should run their business.
“ACT proposes a common sense solution to anticipate disasters for the horticulture industry.
“This is not just about the Government’s failure to bring in enough skilled workers from the Pacific Islands where there is no COVID-19.
“This is about the lack of collaboration from Immigration NZ around workers who are already in the country, but otherwise not allowed to work because Immigration NZ is not flexible about who they can work for.
“ACT said that NZ Immigration should be as flexible as possible around visa status and where RSE workers can work, but for them it is as if COVID-19 has never happened.
“Despite the best efforts of industry leaders, Immigration NZ employers and lawmakers seem totally uninterested in discussing sensible pragmatic policies, such as rapidly changing visas for those already in the country or overhauling the Treaty to Recruit scheme. to offer jobs to RSE workers, “said Dr. McDowall.
“I don’t think the officials in Wellington know how dire the situation is,” Cameron said.
“Sector by sector we can face disaster, with the apple industry in crisis right now.
“Other vegetable farmers face similar challenges and farmers of berries and kiwifruit are close at hand.
“The Government’s approach has limited the number of workers from offshore and provides incentives to those with welfare to work in the horticulture sector.
“While well intentioned, it shows they have little or no understanding of the realities on the ground, and what it takes to harvest New Zealand crops.”
“It’s a physically demanding job, and any employer in the sector will tell you the same thing – New Zealanders don’t want the job, and many of them turn out to be unreliable.
“It’s a shame, but it’s the honest truth.”
“Our food supply chain will be severely affected by NZ Immigration’s failure to understand its purpose, and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi needs to be aware of that reality,” said Dr McDowall.
“ACT says we need to take a sensible approach – fast track visas, allow those who are already here to work without delay, and allow workers from COVID-19-free countries to enter without MIQ, with reasonable health measures in place. on farmland.
“The way MIQ is regulated, these workers are more likely to catch COVID-19 in isolation facilities with people from countries where the virus is spreading.
“It is not too late to avoid the worst of what will happen under current policy settings, but the Government needs to listen to the sector and move quickly.
“If not, eventually New Zealanders will pay the price in supermarkets, and farmers will reduce their incomes, which means less investment in one of our main export sectors.”