The Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway has dismissed the pre-election clamour around reducing net migration numbers in “tens of thousands” as mere predictions than any commitment to real targets.
Speaking to The Indian Weekender Mr Lees-Galloway said, “It was a predication, not a target.”
“Let’s be clear of what we did say at the time of the elections.
“We said that we wanted to make some changes around student visas, the essential skill visas ... that we anticipated might have an impact on the overall net migration rates.”
“It wasn’t a target,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
“From opposition, it’s really a guess.
“You don’t have resources of the good people at MBIE to support your policymaking,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
It is important to note that in the lead up to the 2017 elections there was a huge public outcry around the net migration rates and the promises of reducing net immigration by 20-30,000 a year.
It was first in April 2017 that the then Labour leader Andrew Little has vowed to slash immigration by "tens of thousands" of new arrivals but won't be more specific about exact numbers.
"The commitment I am making is we have to be serious about it, we have to cut immigration. It has got to be in the order of tens of thousands," Mr Little had then said.
However, subsequently, the Labour Party was seen retracting from that initial outcry that has dominated and possibly influenced the tone of the elections for a considerable time after Jacinda Ardern took over the leadership.
The belief that immigration was at record levels in mid-2017, and a plausible reason for the most of infrastructure issues that New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland faced, ranging from housing and rising traffic jams, was central to the election campaign that year.
The net migration numbers continue to remain historically high with a marginal dip in August 2018 of around 8000 migrants.