Winston Peters says Government should take notice on immigration

Winston Peters said he had called for years for New Zealand to peg back immigration and despite the pressure on Auckland, figures were at record high levels. Photo / Stephen Parker
Winston Peters said he had called for years for New Zealand to peg back immigration and despite the pressure on Auckland, figures were at record high levels. Photo / Stephen Parker

NZ First leader Winston Peters says New Zealand should pay heed to former Australian politician Bob Carr's call for Australia to drastically cut immigration because Auckland is facing the same pressure.

Mr Carr, a former Labor MP, New South Wales premier and foreign minister, called for Australia to cut immigration by one third to one half because it risked changing the Australian way of life, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

He pointed to house price increases in Sydney, saying it was down to "breakneck population growth" and the inevitability new migrants would settle in main cities.

Australia's population hit 24 million this week and net migration was 200,000 in 2014.

In New Zealand, net migration for 2015 was at a record high of 64,900 as a result of new migrants, fewer New Zealanders leaving and more returning home.

Auckland alone saw a net gain of 30,000 - 7000 more than in 2014 - putting additional pressure on the city's bloated house prices which have an average current value of more than $900,000, according to QV.

Mr Peters said he had called for years for New Zealand to peg back immigration and despite the pressure on Auckland, figures were at record high levels.

"It depends whether you think the Auckland housing crisis and all the infrastructure pressures in Auckland are of no matter or they are a serious concern. It is a city stretched and under enormous pressure and people claiming to provide leadership are failing to recognise the most fundamental cause of that happening."

He said immigration should be restricted to those who provided the skills New Zealand needed: "but not as some stopgap to maintain consumption."

Prime Minister John Key has so far ruled out further restrictions to New Zealand's immigration settings, saying new migrants bring skills, investment and help economic growth.

Yesterday Finance Minister Bill English said it was possible the Government would have to bring forward some spending because of migration.

"These large migration numbers are driving up demand for core public services, particularly obvious in education but clearly going to flow on to health as well. So we have to take those sort of factors into account."

The Government is grappling with Auckland's housing market which has come under pressure partly because of migration and a severe shortage of supply. It recently moved to try an encourage more new migrants to settle in the regions such as providing extra 'points' for migrants who agreed to live in the regions. Refugees are now more likely to be settled in other regions, such as Wellington, because of the cost of housing in Auckland.

Mr Carr's call has not found much support among the NZ Labour Party - Immigration spokesman Ian Lees-Galloway said slashing immigration would cause more harm than good.

However, he did believe it was being badly managed: "Immigration is good for New Zealand but it's being poorly managed. There is a lot of pressure on Auckland. We need stronger incentives to encourage new migrants to move to the regions and set up businesses there."

New Zealand

Population: 4.6 million
People moving to NZ in 2015: 122,000 - 11.5 per cent higher than in 2014.
Migrants entering on work visas: 38,000 - 13.7 per cent higher than in 2014.
Net migration: 64,900 in 2015 (previous high was 43,500 in 2014)
Net gain of migration for Auckland in 2015: 30,000 - 7000 more than in 2014.

Australia

Population: 24 million
Migrants under migration programmes: 190,000
Net migration: 200,000 in 2014

- Statistics NZ

- NZ Herald

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