Minister to look at Queenstown immigration service

John Key
John Key
Government Minister Paula Bennett will visit Queenstown early next year to look at how the resort's immigration service can be streamlined and made more responsive to employers' needs.

Speaking at a lunch today organised by the resort's regional tourism body, Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key said Immigration New Zealand's Queenstown service was "very inefficient and very clunky''.

"It's just too slow, and it's not responsive to what we need, particularly in a high growth, low unemployment market."

Ms Bennett's former role as Minister of Social Development had given her expertise in "how to fast-track things and speed them up''.

For example, an employer wanting to hire a foreigner through the working holiday programme had to go through a ``long and convoluted process'' to

prove there was no New Zealander available to take that job, Mr Key said.

"We should be able to get to a position where, if your competitor is advertising and can't find someone, that's good enough as a test of the market.''

"We are going to go away and look at how we can make things in Queenstown a bit faster, more efficient and specific."

Other Queenstown issues covered by Mr Key were a proposed visitor levy or "bed tax'', the need for a conference centre, and what was being done to free up more land for housing in the resort.

He also defended the Government's management of the economy, particularly criticism of yesterday's Treasury forecast of a $772 million fiscal deficit in this financial year.

Only Norway among OECD countries had a ``better set of numbers'', while New Zealand was out-performing Australia in GDP and employment growth.

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