Labour's sad attempt to discredit National's immigration policy confirms how out of touch this Government has been over the past nine years, says National's Immigration spokesman, Lockwood Smith.
"If Labour doesn't want skilled immigrants, if it doesn't want new arrivals who can look after themselves financially – then what are Labour's priorities for immigration?"
Dr Smith says Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove's hysterical rantings over National's plan to remove layers of bureaucratic red tape for skilled immigrants are a front for his Government's failings in this area.
"Mr Cosgrove clearly can't get his head around the fact that immigration policy is largely about attracting the right skills and investment to allow our economy to grow. Labour's complacency has led to record departures – we need skilled people to fill those gaps."
Dr Smith says that under Labour, business category approval numbers have decreased steadily since reaching a peak of 4,517 in 2001/02, down to just 689 in 2007/08.
"The primary reason for this has been the dramatic reduction in approved investor immigrants. In 2001/02, 1,326 principal applicants were approved under the investor category which requires each to bring at least $1 million of investment into New Zealand. That's investment of at least $1.326 billion.
"In 2007/08, just 28 principal applications were approved. The figures speak for themselves."
Dr Smith says National will:
• Set realistic investment capital and English language requirements for business immigrants.
• Require approvals to better match the experience of potential business immigrants with their proposed investment in New Zealand.
• Focus the assessment of success for long-term business visa holders seeking residence in New Zealand on job creation and export earnings.
"We will also put measures in place to ensure that Kiwis living overseas will be given all the right incentives to return home."