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Most read: NZ First 'lost the argument' in coalition immigration deal - Peters

This story was first published on Monday July 30.

During an interview on Q+A, Mr Peters was asked if he had let voters down after promising to cut immigration to 10,000 a year. Source: Q+A

Winston Peters has said he "lost the argument" over his party's immigration policy, as New Zealand's net migration dropped only marginally despite promises from his NZ First party and their coalition partner Labour. 

On TVNZ1's Q+A yesterday, host Corin Dann asked the Acting Prime Minister why net migration had only fallen to 65,000 in the year to June 2018, according to Statistics New Zealand. 

"It was 72,000 net, remember?" Mr Peters said. "It's a start in the right direction."

The 2017 election saw NZ First promise a drop to 10,000 net migration a year and Labour promised a cut of 20,000-30,000 a year down from the 72,400 when it peaked in July, last year. 

Mr Peters told Dann he "lost the argument" when it came to NZ First’s policy of only 10,000 net migrations per year, "because I didn't get enough votes because people like you said it wouldn't work".

"You’ve got to compromise in coalition negotiations."

Dann asked what policy change had contributed to the drop to 65,000, with Mr Peters saying not welcoming people who did not bring "the skills we needed".

"We're far more cautious as to who is coming and we're far more focused on the regional economy."

He estimated immigration could drop a further 25,000 to 30,000.

"But we've also got to watch the employment market to ensure none of our product, particularly export product, is being hindered by a lack of staff."

Dann interviews Winston Peters on medicinal cannabis, the economy, immigration and the return of Jacinda Ardern. Source: Q+A

The Government also proposed last month changes international student post-study work rights, which Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said would help eliminate migrant exploitation and make sure that migrants granted residency contribute the skills that New Zealand needs.

Part of the proposal was to require students completing non-degree level seven or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study in order to gain eligibility for post-study work rights.

Some say international students are being unfairly targeted in an effort to dampen down net migration. Source: 1 NEWS

However, the National Partys say "tinkering" with immigration could result in a loss of up to $40 million a year of revenue from international students. 

National Party Immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said in a statement international students were a "critical revenue stream for our Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics".

He said a Government proposal that requires some students to study for two years before being eligible for post-study work visas "fails to recognise the higher calibre of those studying graduate diplomas". 

National Party Associate Tertiary Education spokesperson Simeon Brown added that "international students studying graduate diplomas bring a wealth of experience to New Zealand and often fill vital skill shortages".

"By completing post-graduate diplomas, they are able to add to their knowledge and broaden their skillset."