Boult to migrant workers - leaving NZ "may be best option"

by Peter Newport - May 11, 2020

From QLDC.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult comments on additional Otago Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) funding for the Queenstown Lakes District:

“I am extremely proud of the significant welfare response to the crisis we are seeing in the Lakes District,” Mayor Boult said.

“Further welfare pathways have been announced today by emergency management for both Kiwis and migrants but I need to message some cold hard facts.

“The welfare has been provided locally by our Council team in conjunction with the Otago Regional Group, Council paid contractors and volunteers plus our outstanding community service providers. The bill for over a million dollars of welfare has been picked up by the National Emergency Management Agency.

“This cost could never be borne by our ratepayers.  Although we will continue to wrap support around our local community service providers into the future as their work will continue to be critical, the emergency management pot will eventually run out. That may be weeks or months but there will be an end to it. For Kiwis they can still lean on the government but the migrant picture is hugely challenging. We will continue to lobby for some kind of discretionary welfare support for migrants but that does not appear to be forthcoming.  

“I am firmly of the view that we need to be kind to our migrant community who served us so well in good times. The bleak reality is that many will not be able to get work to support themselves and those who assume they will have a job after Level Two comes into play may be in for a shock. The projected levels of unemployment for our district are far in excess of the projected national average. For those migrants in this position, still hanging on for work, my advice would be start doing some challenging thinking. Your best option may well be one of repatriation until such time as our economy can once again offer support to our migrants. I do accept that for some repatriation is not possible and for others the years that you have lived and worked in our community and raised families also makes this proposition untenable. However, where it can be conceived as a possibility it now needs to be considered.  

“I want to be clear – I say this with a heavy heart and frankly out of genuine concern for the wellbeing of our migrant community, but we simply cannot sustain the quantum of welfare ongoing.”

Watch: A Shattered Dream: Queenstown's migrant workers.


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