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National pledges to close maternity loophole

Dr Lynda Scott MP National Party Health Spokeswoman & Hon Murray McCully MP National Party Immigration Spokesman

29 August 2003

National pledges to close maternity loophole

A National Government would act quickly to close the loophole, which is allowing increasing numbers of foreign women to abuse New Zealand's maternity services.

In a joint media statement, National Party MPs Dr Lynda Scott and Murray McCully say the guidelines put in place more than four years ago are now being abused and Kiwi women are missing out as a result.

"Again this week we've heard more shocking reports about the pressure on our maternity services," says Dr Scott, National's Health spokeswoman.

"We're not suggesting that pregnant foreign women who come to New Zealand should be denied the right to give birth in our hospitals - but we believe that they should pay for the medical care they and their child receive," says Dr Scott.

"It's a system that would bring us into line with many other countries, including our nearest neighbour, Australia," she says.

"The move to charge foreign nationals for maternity services would act as a deterrent for those who are looking to take advantage of the New Zealand taxpayer," says Mr McCully, the National Party Immigration spokesman.

Statistics New Zealand says the number of taxpayer funded births by overseas residents has more than doubled since 1999.

"The Government should take action now to ensure the situation does not get any worse," Mr McCully says.

"Only yesterday Annette King asked officials to investigate, yet three weeks ago she wrote to the Maternity Services Consumer Council about this issue promising action back then," says Dr Scott.

"Immigration's a vital part of New Zealand's future success, we can't afford to be seen as a soft touch," says Mr McCully.

Ends

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