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Minister's Dithering Results In Bad Message

Minister's Dithering Results In Bad Immigration Message

Friday 28 Jun 2002

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel's refusal to comment on possible law changes until she has "legal advice" confirms either incompetence or a level of politically-correct dithering that would be funny if it was not so potentially expensive for New Zealand, ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"It is no good criticising the judge and the lawyers, because they are just applying the law. The Government had a chance to clarify the law in the week before calling a snap election. ACT would have supported a change to make it clear that illegal immigrants can be detained. I told the Minister in Parliament that we should be debating law changes learning from the Australian experience. Even Britain and Germany are considering overriding United Nations conventions which delay expulsion of illegal immigrants. Why haven't we made up our minds long before reaching this stage?

"Holding and then deporting bogus asylum seekers costs Australia an average of $50,000 a head. Those not held in custody but in the community receiving benefits cost another $50,000 a head by the time they are found and deported, according to figures I got from the Australian Minister of Immigration recently.

"Our Immigration Minister should have had contingency plans for the court decision just announced. It is no good offering the excuse of needing yet more legal advice when the need for clearer law was obvious from the start. Bogus asylum seekers and those who smuggle them should know without any doubt that they will not have the privilege of New Zealand residence while they use legal technicalities to stay here. We have every right to detain them until their status is known.

"Did the Minister decide not to introduce these changes because she could not bear to be forced to accept the offered ACT support to out-vote her Green allies?" Mr Franks asked.

Ends


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