Finance Minister Grant Robertson has no plan to fix the severe labour shortage that is crippling New Zealand businesses and will see many more close their doors for good, National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly says.

“Grant Robertson is sitting by idly and watching as unpicked fruit rots on the ground, dairy farms cry out to get the workers they need to milk their cows, the manufacturing industry struggles, and restaurants are at a point where they have no option but to switch off their lights in protest.

“Businesses throughout New Zealand are doing it tough with some shutting up shop completely because they simply cannot access enough skilled labour to function.

“Reports that 2000 MIQ rooms are sitting empty each day is a slap in the face to those businesses desperate to get more workers from overseas and through MIQ.

“It is difficult to understand why the Government has not made these rooms available for overseas workers, especially when the Labour Party Leader promised at the election to set aside 10 per cent of MIQ capacity for that exact purpose.

“Hundreds of skilled workers could go through MIQ and enter the workforce at a time when a shortage of skilled labour is the single biggest barrier facing employers across every sector.

“Businesses have been pleading with the Government to do something about the shortage for well over a year now.

“Today, thousands of restaurants around the country will switch off their lights in protest of the Government’s inaction, with some shutting down completely over the next two weeks. But even this isn’t enough for the Finance Minister to take the problem seriously.”