New Zealand is now receiving record numbers of migrants.
But don’t expect too many of them to go anywhere other than Auckland and possibly other main centres.
This is despite Government moves earlier in the year to offer extra points to migrants willing to move outside Auckland.
However Treasury advice published under the Official Information Act shows that the moves were unlikely to have much impact.
Apart from anything else there is nothing to stop a migrant taking the extra points, moving to say, Taihape, and then moving back to Auckland once they have settled in the country.
Treasury notes though that the moves announced by the Government at the end of July gave more points to migrants than what they were asked to comment on.
Last night a spokesperson for Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, said that there were no statistics on how the moves had impacted on migration yet because they were still being implemented.
Speaking at his post Cabinet press conference, the Prime Minister John Mr Key said that he saw no need to intervene on immigration because the settings put in place by the Immigration Department in conjunction with Work and Income which prioritised where skills were required was a better way of dealing with things.
“There are always pluses and minuses,” he said.
“But on balance I reckon that for New Zealand it’s been a vote of confidence and strong inward migration brings people who have skills and capital.
“But it’s always important to manage it and we do.”
The Treasury papers tell a slightly different story though.
They said: Most migrants currently do not go to non-urban areas. For example, of the Skilled Migrant Category migrants that had jobs or a job offer in 2013/14, 47% were based in Auckland.
“Of the remainder, 18% were in Canterbury, 11% in Wellington and 5% in Waikato.
“Moreover, there is currently no mechanism to ensure that migrants stay in regions even if they claim these bonus points.
“Once a migrant has a residence class visa they are free to move around the country as they choose.”
Treasury believed that the changes would only impact on a small number of migrants.
“The small number of extra bonus points is unlikely to ‘push over the line’ many migrants who aren’t currently meeting requirements,” they said.
“For both the SMC and Entrepreneur Work Visa, a far greater amount of points can be claimed for meeting other criteria such as age, education, employment, or capital investment.
“Against that context, we don’t think it is likely that many regional migrants who currently don’t meet requirements will be granted visas after this change. “
What is abundantly clear from both this advice and from Mr Key’s statements today is that the Government is not worried about migration levels.
Drilling down into the Statistics does show that there is some dispersal of migrants around the country going on.
Net figures for permanent and long term migrant’s shows that Auckland accounts for 51% of the movements, but Canterbury, Waikato, the Bay of Plenty and Wellington are all attracting their share of migrants.
The figures are also inflated by the number of those arriving on student visas (26,759 in the last year) of whom 10,569 were form India; and 5,138, China.
This has provoked NZ First to switch its anti-immigration focus to them now.
Deputy Leader Ron Mark claimed many foreign students, particularly from China and India, intended seeking permanent residence, and their student visa was the pathway.
“We are not doing them any favours by increasing the numbers each month as many will now be struggling to get work
“The decision to extend work rights to foreign students was not well thought through. We now have students trying to earn money in New Zealand to pay their costs, when the whole point of the industry was to bring foreign money into New Zealand.”