Peters: 'No job, no immigrant'

New Zealand First has announced its immigration policy, saying numbers of people allowed into the country should be cut.

Party leader Winston Peters, announcing policy similar to that he has campaigned on in previous campaigns, said New Zealanders should not have to compete with people from overseas for jobs.

Addressing a Grey Power meeting in Nelson, Mr Peters said the policy was necessary in the current economic climate.

Mr Peters said: "We must never return to open door immigration undermining the efforts of New Zealanders trying to find a job in tough times.

"When times are tough internationally immigrants are attracted to New Zealand like moths to a neon light."

He said immigration policy had to be "smarter" and added: "We must have a population policy - and one in which ordinary New Zealanders can have an input.

"It must be linked explicitly to labour market needs. No job - no immigrant."

Mr Peters said no one should be let into New Zealand unless they had a job and those seeking to join families in this country would have to be immediate family only.

Green Party Immigration spokespman Keith Locke dismissed Mr Peters' policy.

He said: "It's silly to talk about cutting immigration when net migration is at a very low level, only 4900 migrants in the August 2008 year - down from 8,700 from 2007 - and employers are still screaming out for skilled workers.

"Immigration is only just replacing the outflow of Kiwis overseas. A recession is not likely to change this much. Australian pay rates are still going to be attractive to skilled New Zealanders.

"Instead of bashing migrants, Mr Peters should address the real reason some New Zealanders find it hard to get a job, and that is inadequate education and job training

Treasury last forecast that unemployment will from 3.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent, though these estimates were made before the international credit crisis deepened.

Some argue that immigration boosts the economy while emigration rates reduce economic growth.

Earlier in the year Mr Peter's deputy Peter Brown said he was concerned that society would become more divided if the number of Asians coming to New Zealand continued to grow.

- NZ HERALD STAFF, NZPA

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