Budget 2022, Zoom hui

Budget 2022, Zoom hui

Last night I had the privilege to attend a Zoom hui hosted by Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson, and Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, in which they presented and discussed the Government’s Budget 2022 – ‘Securing our Future’.

The event was attended by 81 ethnic community leaders and ethnic media. For privacy reasons just a cheesy selfie of the night with some of the Zoom screen here. Several participants took the opportunity to enter any questions or comments in the chat box; part of my question (due to hitting the return key by accident!) on the right.

Reading some of the Budget in preparation for the hui I was particularly interested in the commitments for Pacific Peoples through the wellbeing strategy (Securing the wellbeing of Pacific communities, by Hon Aupito William Sio). It’s good to see a substantial amount of funds made available for the ‘Pacific package’. This includes goals such as housing for Pacific families in Eastern Porirua, a historical account of the Dawn Raids, healthcare, employment and training, support for Pacific businesses and social enterprises across New Zealand, Pacific migrant support service, and education.

My question: ‘How will the Pacific Work Connect Programme ensure employment for Pacific migrants in New Zealand?’ couldn’t be answered directly due to the fact that the relevant papers weren’t in front of them, but during the hui Hon Robertson mentioned that “the Immigration Rebalance does focus on making sure that we support people who come here where their skills can really be useful to New Zealand and that there are good jobs for them to go to, and they are paid at a reasonable rate.”

Also interesting to note that the government have been very concerned about migrant exploitation over a period of time and the Rebalance will create “a system whereby we have accredited employers. This makes the employment process and bringing people in much shorter. The Green List also makes the process of residency a lot quicker for a number of occupational groups.” A broader reopening of our borders will help with this process within the labour force, so hopefully we will be able to see a big difference over the next few months in the processing of visas.

Hon Radhakrishnan added that “from a migrant’s perspective, the Immigration Reset gives people a much fairer understanding of what jobs they will get and their pay.” She also mentioned with regard to asylum seekers and refugee intake, a “refugee strategy refresh” and how we might be able to do things much better. Hon Robertson said they are looking to provide a better support and environment for people/asylum seekers. “There’s been a recognition that that part of our policy frame work hasn’t been as up to scratch as we would want it to be. New Zealand has some obligations around our asylum seekers that we need to uphold.”

I was pleased to read in the Minister of Finance: Wellbeing Budget 2022 Speech (Hon Grant Robertson) that a large part of the Budget is planned for a high wage – low emissions economy to provide economic security in good times and bad. $100 Million is set aside for a Business Growth Fund alongside New Zealand’s major banks. This will improve SME’s access to finance, enabling them to grow, create jobs and increase their contribution to our wider economic development.

Not only will this be good for New Zealand economic growth, but also for the planet e.g. through sustainable energy. And that can only be positive.

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