New Zealand earns over $3 billion from immigration

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According to a new research report, 'The Fiscal Impacts of Immigration', migrants settling in New Zealand earned the country $3.3 billion during a year's period ending 30 June 2006.

Migrants contributed $8.1 billion in income tax, goods and services tax, and excise duties -- far exceeding the $4.8 billion New Zealand spent on education, health and welfare for the newcomers.

"Immigration ensures that our employers can access the much-needed skills they need for economic growth, and migrants also bring in links to export markets, investment, ideas and diversity," said Immigration Minister David Cunliffe.

"The Settlement Strategy that I launched in July has enlisted the support of 16 central government agencies to ensure that these valuable migrants are given all the help they need to settle and contribute to New Zealand," he added.

The report showed that the positive impact from migrants has grown about 80 percent from previous research carried out in 2003. That research showed a net fiscal impact of $1.7 billion.

"The net fiscal impact per head for recent migrants rose nearly 35 percent from 2002 to 2006, which is evidence that our migrants are making a strong contribution to our economy, and that our immigration policies are attracting exactly the migrants we want," Cunliffe said.

"We are building up a picture of just how much immigration contributes to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. We know that in general employers are impressed with the performance of their migrant staff, and we know that most migrants are happy to be here, and say they would recommend New Zealand to friends and family overseas," he said.

"Our migrants are hard workers, and research I released earlier this year showed that migrants were much less likely to be on a welfare benefit than their Kiwi-born neighbour."

The research is part of a three-year study by the New Zealand Department of Labour into the economic impacts of immigration.

Cunliffe said that the research would assist decision making in future immigration policies and economic planning.

He said that the city of Auckland gets the biggest economic benefit from migrants as 45 percent of all migrants live there. However, migrants eventually leave cities such as Auckland and Christchurch and spread out around New Zealand.

The report, which uses the latest census data, showed New Zealand has a migrant population of almost one million people. The country is actively promoting immigration -- especially their points-based immigration scheme for skilled migrants.

"Migrants from all over the world play a vital role in the economic transformation and wonderful diversity of this country. In the long term that role is set to increase in the future as our need for skilled, talented people continues," Cunliffe said.