Oliver Hartwich writes:
A few days ago, Otaki Medical Centre posted about one of their doctors on Facebook: “We’re disappointed to have lost Dr Richards back to the UK after being unable to secure him and his family residency due to a Government freeze in place with Covid-19,” the GP practice wrote.
“Here is an amazing doctor, who cares about our community and wanted to make NZ home. Sadly – after months of fighting – we have had to close the practice to new patients.”
Richards is one of many migrants affected by the Government’s restrictive and inflexible residence policies. According to reports, there are at least 1000 registered doctors and nurses waiting for a decision on their residence status.
This is beyond crazy. We need doctors and nurses. They are already here and doing valuable work yet the Government can’t or won’t make decisions on residency.
While these migrants are waiting, they cannot open a KiwiSaver account, they cannot buy a house and, crucially, they cannot bring in their family.
It is not just medical professionals, either. The total queue of applications for residence from migrants already in the country exceeds 10,000 people.
It affects all walks of life, including many of those areas in which New Zealand desperately needs skilled workers.
Many of these workers have been with us since lockdown last year and have been treated terribly. Short-term work visa extensions are issued at the last minute, leaving everyone on tenterhooks. Few employers are willing to take on staff whose visas could soon expire.
It really has been shameful.
The Government is effectively forcing skilled migrants to leave the country, while trying to find space in MIQ for other foreign workers to replace them. It is madness in a time of skill shortages and MIQ shortages.
Only the Government could oversee such daftness.
In a first instance, the Government should apologise to the thousands of migrants and their families for the distress caused. It was not the Kiwi way to treat people like that.
After that apology, the Government should fix the situation. Everyone who was legally here with us through last year’s lockdown, and who has stuck with us since then, could simply be given residence immediately.
If the migrants have dependent children and partners abroad from whom they have been separated for these past sixteen months, their family should be given residence as well, along with priority entry into the MIQ system.