Wānaka MP Miles Anderson calls new immigration rules 'unfair'

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 29, 2024

First-term MP for Waitaki Miles Anderson met with members of Wānaka's business community today, fronting up to criticism on new immigration regulations announced by his government.

Speaking at the Wānaka Chamber of Commerce event held at Edgewater Hotel this morning, the new MP was grilled by local employers on the ways the visa resets don't suit them. 

Mr Anderson has revealed he doesn't agree with some of the new regulations introduced in early April by immigration minister Erica Stanford.

"What’s regarded as skilled and unskilled is unfair; there’s a bit of academic snobbery," Mr Anderson says. 

Changes announced mean workers have to be "skilled" and hold a degree or have three years of experience in the field they are applying for. 

He says a group of MPs is working on a proposal of changes to present to the minister. 

Waitaki MP Miles Anderson (left) and Wānaka Chamber board member Tyson Walker (right), with attendees at the chamber's breakfast event.

But many in attendance at the chamber event expressed their frustration that the rules had been adjusted only for them to be altered again.

One attendee spoke of migrant workers already having left the country or at risk of leaving because of the changes to visa requirements. 

Another voice from the floor argued the region isn't set up to fill all its tourism and hospitality roles without hiring migrant workers, and Covid-19 made this evident.

They say immigration rules need to make it easy to hire non-Kiwis.

Mr Anderson agrees some of the rules didn't fit the needs of the Wānaka community well, and he acknowledges "urgency" is required in attempting to address this.

Another cause for concern offered up a Wānaka employer, that some working holiday visas only allow migrants to work three months per employer, which means seasonal workers have to move on just as they become fully trained, in many cases.

Mr Anderson has suggested employees hired on an Accredited Employer Work Visa should also be able to work different roles within a company.

Currently, this visa requires that AEWV employees only work in one specific role, and they cannot work in other areas - for example, a barista cannot work back of house. 

Apart from taking some heat for immigration regulations, Mr Anderson also spoke on what concerns he has for the area, and what changes he's fighting for.

It his view there is a "big need for a levy" of some kind for tourism and infrastructure.

Mr Anderson says this is an issue he has observed elsewhere in the electorate with the Mackenzie district and its 4,000 ratepayers unable to pay for the number of people visiting the area.

Healthcare provision in Wānaka is also on his radar as one the "biggest issue", including the of lack of maternity services and the need for women to travel out of the district in advance of giving birth.

Travelling out of the district so frequently for hospital care is "inconvenient and quite dangerous", especially during winter, he says.

Mr Anderson has also shared his stance on the RMA, which his government is currently amending and looking to replace.

He says building projects "can't progress much without spending a lot of money", adding in his own frustrations when recently trying to build a house.

"We over-engineer houses in New Zealand."

He also wants to see video and photo inspections as options for councils to speed up the process, saying during his own build he had 13 in-person inspections and waited up to two weeks each time. 

He thinks organisations outside of a local community should not be able to weigh in on resource consent decisions. 

"If a local community has consented to something, why should a remote organisation...interfere in local decision making."

The first-term MP has shared it has been "quite intense" at the beehive this year, with most days during sitting weeks going until midnight. 

He's hoping to increase his presence locally and open a full-time staffed electorate office in Wānaka by the middle of the year.

He has reiterated his party's stance and the decisions coming out of Wellington, saying they're to reverse the "economic damage" from the last government. 

"We're trying to undo some of the things that caused it and trying to free up the working population to get out and get on with their business without as much interference as they have had the past few years."

Main image: Miles Anderson outside Wānaka's Edgewater Hotel, where he addressed a business audience on Monday, April 29.

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux