New Zealand’s 2023 general election, held on Saturday, 14th October, marked a notable shift in the nation’s political dynamics. The National Party emerged victorious, clinching 39% of the party vote, signalling the end of Labour’s six-year reign. This comes as a striking reversal to 2020, when Labour enjoyed a resounding majority, enabling them to govern without coalition partners. This election, Labour secured just 26% of the votes.
While Christopher Luxon stands poised to step into the role of Prime Minister, the exact composition of the upcoming Government remains a topic of speculation. Under New Zealand’s voting system, National must partner with other parties to ensure they have a workable majority on the floor of Parliament. With 39% of the vote National will have about 50 Members of Parliament, and will need a coalition bringing in at least another 11 MPs to form a Government.
Preliminary indications suggest a coalition between National and the ACT party. However, there’s a twist in the tale – the potential inclusion of New Zealand First into the governing coalition. This decision hinges on special votes, which are still being tallied. The final outcome will not be announced by the Electoral Commission until early November.
Should the results necessitate the involvement of New Zealand First, negotiations might stretch somewhat longer. And even if National and ACT can govern alone, there are still procedural formalities to undertake before policy can begin to be implemented, including swearing in new MPs to and re-establishing Parliament, all of which take time.
Given this backdrop, what can investor migrants read into the current state of affairs? While there is still some water to go under the bridge before we will know the incoming government’s exact composition, policy commitments and timings, it is worth noting some of National and ACT’s relevant campaign promises.
Increasing fees for Visas: The National Party envisions a user-pays model, which would inevitably bring NZ visa processing fees closer to its Australian counterpart. By mid-2024, expect an evolved pricing system with the addition of priority processing for those seeking a speedier transition. Those who want to avoid a potential fee increase may want to consider progressing their chosen visa sooner rather than later.
Strengthening Family Ties: An emphasis on family sees National planning a visa specifically for parents and grandparents of current NZ residents and citizens, ensuring families can stay connected with ease. Active Investor Plus (AIP) visa applicants can take some confidence that their parents and grandparents might also have access to New Zealand within the four year term of their AIP visa and beyond.
A Fresh Take on Property Acquisition: National campaigned hard (and to some intense scrutiny) on revising the current foreign buyer ban on residential property. The party proposes to instead introduce a 15% tax on properties bought by overseas investors for over NZ$2 million (US$1.16 million). This opens the door for AIP visa applicants to purchase property in New Zealand, albeit with a tax.
Create a visa for workers from major tech companies: Recognising the vast potential of the tech sector, National’s proposed Global Growth Tech Visa aims to lure top-tier tech professionals. With full residency rights in the offing, this could introduce an alternative route for tech professionals previously considering the AIP visa but put off by the investment thresholds.
A Seamless Immigration Experience: ACT champions an efficient, globally competitive immigration process. From demand-based pricing for temporary work visas to a fast-track residency route for key occupations, ACT’s vision promises a generally more streamlined immigration experience and broadly aligns with the National party’s vision.
While neither party explicitly mentions the Active Investor Plus Visa settings in their policy manifestos there is always the possibility it does come under review once they are in government. With that said, there is currently no indication that the settings of the AIP visa will change over the short term.
Meanwhile, the other policies highlighted provide a taste of what’s on offer, giving investor migrants a hint of the broader possibilities of life in New Zealand. From the potential to reunite families more easily, the allure of NZ’s residential property market, to even contemplating alternative visa routes for tech leaders.
While final policy details will undergo rigorous discussions amongst the final coalition partners, one thing is clear: both the National Party and ACT share a mutual ambition to streamline visa processes and supercharge the growth of the NZ tech sector.