Labour: Immigration changes won't affect Samoa

By Claire Trevett, Isaac Davison

Prime Minister John Key and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa enjoy the Independence Day celebrations in Apia.
Prime Minister John Key and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa enjoy the Independence Day celebrations in Apia.

Labour's immigration spokesman Trevor Mallard says Samoa is unlikely to be affected by any potential restrictions to migrants under a Labour Government.

Samoa's Prime Minister earlier today took the unusual step of commenting on another country's domestic politics, saying if Labour went ahead with its plans to restrict immigration it would be "detrimental to New Zealand."

Mr Mallard said any policy changes would focus on restricting entry to people who were offering skills that New Zealand had no demand for.

That was unlikely to impact on Samoans because they were more likely to come under the family reunification category, and not the skilled migrant category, Mr Mallard said.

He said Labour was also likely to target the business migrant categories introduced by National.

"I don't think it's likely to make much difference to Samoa at all frankly. I don't know of any cases of people who have come from Samoa, for example on the ... $10 million investment categories which will certainly be looked at very closely."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi was earlier asked about Labour leader David Cunliffe's recent statements that Labour control immigration further after Treasury predicted net migration would increase to almost 40,000 a year soon.

Mr Tuilaepa said he did not agree with such a policy.

"I think it would be detrimental to New Zealand to introduce that type of politics. You will need people to come in with the skills and the capital to develop a country and create more jobs for your people."

Mr Key made the most of that comment to claim National was better for Pacific Island voters than Labour, saying Mr Cunliffe's position had been hard to clarify but appeared to include cutting down on family reunification numbers.

"I don't think that makes sense. As a general rule people are coming to NZ as long term migrants. If they don't bring their families with them then it's hardly a long term recipe for success."

Mr Key spoke about New Zealand's quota for Samoa, saying New Zealand was looking at ways to improve that because it was not always filled. Workers also came under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme, which allows horticulture workers to work in New Zealand for several months a year to take the money home.

Mr Mallard said Samoans who came to New Zealand as seasonal workers were a fraction of total migration and did not have an impact on net migration or put pressure on housing or jobs.

Key gets taste of Samoan pride in Apia

Prime Minister John Key got a taste of Samoan pride at Independence Day celebrations in Apia today.

It is the 52nd Independence Day - Samoa became independent from New Zealand in 1962.

New Zealand had governed it since 1914 when New Zealand troops took over what was then German Samoa as part of Allied action.

A Treaty of Friendship was signed between New Zealand and Samoa soon after and Mr Key had timed his visit to try to ensure he was in Samoa to mark the occasion.

After the flag-raising and national anthems, Mr Key, his delegation and Mr Tuilaepa as well as other dignitaries watched a two-hour long 'march-past' - thousands of Samoan people representing their churches, schools and community groups.

Samoa's Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi spoke to the gathering, recalling that people had questioned how Samoa would cope given its size.

"Why should we celebrate where we are today and how we got here? Because we have shown ourselves and our international supporters that we are a fully functioning democracy with sound financial management systems and we take the rule of law seriously."

He said Samoa continued to receive international support and recognition, showing Samoa was a leader in the Pacific.

However, he ended on a cautionary note about the progress and development. He borrowed an anecdote from his friend, Maori Council co-chair Eddie Durie, about a Maori who was trying to learn English long ago and would practise by writing home to his family. "The hurrier I get, the behinder I become," he wrote.

Mr Key has a formal meeting with Prime Minister Tuilaepa today.

Go here for the Herald's latest coverage of Pacific Island issues.

- NZ Herald

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