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It has been just over seven months since Kris Faafoi was handed the immigration portfolio, and a total of 1012 days since Queenstown has had a visit from an immigration minister.
Tomorrow that changes.
Mr Faafoi’s press secretary confirmed the minister would be in the Wakatipu tomorrow, along with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
Details of the pair’s itinerary were still to be confirmed yesterday, although the pair would meet Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult in the morning.
Mr Boult said he was delighted Mr Faafoi was coming, having extended two personal invitations to him in recent months.
In May Mr Nash told a Queenstown Chamber of Commerce event he would champion Queenstown’s call for another working holiday visa extension and changes to skills visas to Mr Faafoi.
Mr Boult said he was not expecting any announcements from the pair tomorrow, but was looking forward to a ‘‘a meaningful and productive discussion’’ with Mr Faafoi, in particular.
He intended to talk to him about immigration settings for existing businesses; allowing in critical workers; the need for surety of extensions/expiries of visas for employers and their staff; and lifting the bar on the number of migrant workers allowed in at present.
While the Covid outbreak in New South Wales, where a two-week extension to its lockdown was announced yesterday, had lessened the impact of the labour shortage, it was just a ‘‘temporary respite’’.
‘‘I’m full of hope that the Australians will sort out the issues they’ve got around Covid at the present time and maybe by the time September school holidays come around, hopefully we’ll still have snow and they’ll come back again.
‘‘The issue [of labour shortages] is not out of the way.’’
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Michael Wood is visiting Queenstown today with Invercargill List MP Liz Craig and Dunedin’s Rachel Brooking.
The trio would meet Queenstown Airport representatives, ‘‘a couple of local businesses’’ and Mr Boult, Mr Wood’s press secretary said.