Heather du Plessis-Allan: 2021 Resident Visa, you know it's a good call if no one is criticising it

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Sep 2021, 7:18PM
Kris Faafoi (Photo \ Getty Images)
Kris Faafoi (Photo \ Getty Images)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: 2021 Resident Visa, you know it's a good call if no one is criticising it

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Sep 2021, 7:18PM

I bet there are a bunch of people up and down this country walking around with smiles on their faces today after that immigration announcement this morning.  

This is going to make the world of difference for so many migrants who haven't had any certainty for 18 months. 

They haven’t known if they’d be allowed to stay in New Zealand, they haven't been able to buy a house, they haven’t been able to open Kiwisaver, they haven’t been able to bring their families over. 

It is hard to imagine how tough that must’ve been. You think how hard it’s been – if you’re in Auckland – not to see your friends, siblings and parents for nearly 7 weeks.  Imagine that but it’s your spouse and your kids and it’s 18 months.  

And it’s going to make the world of difference for employers who have been terrified of losing their migrant workers overseas.  

We’ve heard from farmers losing staff who’ve moved Canada because Canada is more welcoming to migrants. 

We’ve heard of clinics losing their doctors back to the UK. 

And these employers know that once the staff are gone it is close to impossible to get replacements in through MIQ or even find Kiwi workers in a very, very tight domestic labour market.  

No one, literally no one, I’ve seen today has criticised this decision.   

Business associations, farmers, doctors, think tanks, the opposition parties have all said it’s the right call. 

Even a union praised it. And you’d expect the unions to be potential critics because they represent kiwi workers who we are told have their wages undercut by migrant workers. 

So, what does that tell you? It tells you this was the right call and it should’ve been made ages ago. 

Begs the question why wasn’t it made earlier, before we lost God-knows-how-many critical workers overseas. I suspect the biggest holdback was Kris Faafoi himself: he knew he had a problem but he didn’t know how to fix it. He was just out of ideas.  

Then in August, National’s Erica Standford released her policy idea of a Covid Contribution Visa, he took it, tweaked it a bit, renamed it the 2021 Resident Visa and voila, problem solved. 

Yes, it took too long to get here. Yes, it took a huge amount of political pressure to force Faafoi from his Wairarapa semi-retirement. Yes, we lost too many workers in the meantime. But we’ve got a solution and it’s a good one. So, it’s a good day.