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For relatives, the rules could be relative

For relatives, the rules could be relative

Immigration Service chief executive Mary-Anne Thompson


Good point here from National Party immigration spokesperson Lockwood Smith, who says the Immigration Service flap involving chief executive Mary-Anne Thompson will do nothing to boost public confidence : "This is the same department which was responsible for the 'lying in unison' scandal, and which failed to act on allegations involving former Labour MP Taito Philip-Field.” Smith says.

Given this department’s ‘chequered history” I assume the National Party will now be opposing the wide extension of powers to immigration bureaucrats envisaged in the Immigration Bill rewrite due back in the House in June – which will enable the very same Mary Anne Thompson to decree certain information to be classified, and thus not available to the person against whom it is being used.

Oh, and there are extensions planned in the department’s powers of search and detention, and in its ability to revoke the status of refugees and migrants.

Ms Thompson may not be quite out of the woods. As PM Helen Clark indicated at her Monday press conference, a fresh inquiry into the saga could yet eventuate. For the record, as the Dominion Post revealed last week, Ms Thompson helped three members of her extended family from Kiribati fill in their forms, signed her name on the forms to that effect and the trio eventually ( and wrongly) gained residency.

A routine audit picked this role up in 2007, two years after the applications had been dealt with, and a discrete internal investigation led to a junior staff member being disciplined.

Residency was never revoked, despite a finding that the three Kiribati citizens concerned wouldn’t have been given residency if the usual processes had been followed.

How ironic. The new Immigration Bill plans to extend the power of the department to revoke the status of refugees and migrants if any irregularities in their applications are later detected.

Clearly, Ms Thompson has now helped to set a very high precedent - because surely, if her Kiribati relatives don’t qualify for revocation, can anyone else in future?


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