Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

The South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce has been working very productively with two governments over an eighteen month period; to raise awareness of the labour shortage that exists across South Canterbury and the critical shortage within the Mackenzie District. The active lobbying, meetings and submissions have been based on the policies being proposed that could tighten immigration and create further challenges in securing our vital migrant workers.

On his visit to Timaru in March, Minister Iain Lees Galloway supported the proposed concept of a geographically focused skills shortage list, similar to the Canterbury list post the earthquakes. The Chamber has continued to lobby for this initiative including the additional proposal of an Occupation Exemption for the Mackenzie District.  A similar concept had been created for Queenstown Lakes District a few years ago when the district also faced an unprecedented shortage of workers.

The Chamber had a positive response from the Minister after receiving the comprehensive Mackenzie District survey undertaken by SC Chamber and supporting documents forwarded to him in April. Wendy Smith said “It was important to provide the Minister with hard data from the business community, providing actual examples and the costs to our businesses of the current immigration policies. The Minister responded by requesting Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Social Development to liaise directly with the SC Chamber to seek solutions.”

On Monday 8th October business representatives from across the Mackenzie District, the SC Chamber of Commerce and the Mackenzie District Council met with Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development to seek solutions that could be implemented as soon as possible and to influence policy work that is currently been undertaken. A number of areas have been traversed for implementation in the near term to reduce the time and unnecessary expense the businesses go through, with longer term policy solutions also recommended.


“We were extremely pleased with the positive approach adopted by the government departments, they clearly understand the challenges and the frustrations being experienced by these businesses and actively sought solutions. Time will tell whether the government is truly listening.” said Wendy Smith