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Lawmaker says law discourages needed immigration

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 28, 2011) – A Niue opposition member in parliament says new immigration legislation, which was aimed at encouraging more people to settle on the island, will fail.

Terry Coe says the new Immigration Act has onerous elements, requiring people to stay for ten years before they can apply for permanent residence status, instead of the three years he had advocated. There are also restrictions on gaining temporary residency, with visitors required to have a local sponsor.

[PIR editor's note: Coe spoke in 2009 about the need for bringing in people to live and remain in Niue, although laws stipulating land leasing and building homes is "fraught with difficulty" for non-Niueans. Premier of Niue and Immigration Minister Toke Talagi supported the repopulation of the country in the same year, but wanted legislation to ensure "Niue is protected for Niueans... to ensure that whatever is going to happen to Niue in the future and our need to repopulate Niue with people other than Niueans who clearly are showing preference for living overseas." Earlier in 2011, amidst talk that Talagi plans to allow 100 Chinese families to settle on Niue, Coe reported a "public concern" over the potential immigrants, citing "problems within Fiji, Samoa and Tonga" over moving Chinese "into the community."]

Coe says these people can also be deported without recourse to the courts. He also says it’s wrong that Cabinet has the right to grant permanent residence under certain circumstances.

Coe says the new laws will hinder immigration: "We have talked about this before. We need the population to increase and we need the people to bring skills and or money, but preferably skills because we are so short of skilled people here on the island."

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