No, I’m not talking about overriding citizenship guidelines in return for political donations.
A quarter of the New Zealand workforce was born overseas. NZ has one of the highest per capita inflows of permanent migrants in the OECD and one of the highest outflows of citizens. The last figures available showed the net fiscal contribution of immigrants at $3.3b pa and as compared to only $2.8b for the NZ born population and tourism and export education account for another $11.6b pa. All of this adds up to Immigration being one of most significant portfolios of government.
I am increasingly concerned that we are not investing what we need in terms of money or strategic thinking into the area of immigration. Today I was given yet another reason for thinking that.
In select committee today we heard from the Controller and Auditor General on their report ‘Immigration New Zealand: Supporting new migrants to settle and work which was released in November last year.
The basic findings of the report are a lack of governance and monitoring and evaluation means money is being wasted and we can’t be sure the appropriate services are being funded.
Last year MSD cut funding to the Settling-in programme from $1.5m pa to just $500,000 and then, after this Auditors report was released the Minister decided to withdraw from regional partnerships to deliver settlement support services – cutting 18 positions across the country.
When I asked the auditor today if they believed there monitoring and evaluation system that they have criticised could have provided useful enough data to inform these decisions they said
‘the performance monitoring is not good enough to drive strategic decision such as these.’
So these decisions to cut services that migrant’s value have been made on the basis of ideology. That is not a good way to look after the future of this country or the needs of our more recent migrants.
On top of that they told us the strategy seem to have failed because there was a lack of ‘mana’ to drive it and it had turned into a talk shop without a focus on delivering. This is another indication that the government doesn’t get it.
The Green Party believes we need to develop a strategic approach to immigration that is fair, practical and sustainable and balances the concerns of tangata whenua and tangata tiriti who are born in NZ as well as refugees and voluntary migrants and those needing protection from extreme weather events. We believe we need to support immigrants to integrate into NZ society. If we guarantee the essentials early on we will guarantee the opportunities for us all.