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Mr Walker has written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to draw attention to the problems the South would face without skilled migrant labour.
‘‘Without access to labour, growth would stall and areas like Queenstown and rural Southland and Otago will grind to a halt.’’
The first-term MP said he had experienced an increasing number of inquiries from constituents coming through his offices in Gore, Balclutha and Queenstown, concerned about immigration cuts.
Farmers in rural Southland and Otago told him every week if migrant numbers were cut, some would not be able to run their farms.
In Queenstown, employers emphasised how difficult it was to fill roles, Mr Walker said.
‘‘You only need to look at the number of job vacancy advertisements in Queenstown to see how desperate the situation is.
‘‘Any cuts to immigration will hurt our local tourism industry and anything hurting Queenstown’s tourism industry was also a threat to national tourism.’’
Mr Walker reminded Ms Ardern that she made it clear before the election the Labour Party’s policy was to cut inward net migration to 20,000 to 30,000 from 70,000.
Coalition partner New Zealand First suggested migrant numbers should be cut to just 10,000.
While accepting the formation of a new Government had given Ms Ardern the mandate to implement her policies, Mr Walker believed the reasons for cutting immigration were almost entirely related to urban centres like Auckland.
Growth in Otago and Southland should not be a casualty of setting national migration targets focused solely on Auckland, he said.
Because unemployment was so low in the South, there was not the capacity to fill all jobs with local labour.
Increasingly, employers had been using migrant workers who had been filling the skill shortages and living, working and contributing to communities in positive ways.
‘‘They have helped to create vibrant and multicultural communities right across Clutha-Southland, from Queenstown and Te Anau, to our rural centres, such as Winton.’’
●Six hundred more immigrant workers will be allowed into New Zealand every year under the recognised seasonal employer scheme, the Government announced last night.
Under the scheme, Pacific Islanders are given short-term visas to work in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries.
The cap increased last year to 10,500 and the Government has decided it will increase to 11,100 this year.
The scheme was set up in 2007 and was initially capped at 5000 people.