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Passport Bill Undermines NZers Citizenship Rights

17 June 2004
Passport bill undermines New Zealanders' citizenship rights

Green MP Keith Locke says the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill, tabled in Parliament today, undermines precious citizenship rights.

"The greatest threat to New Zealanders in this Bill is the power given to a Minister to take away our passport on national security grounds," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

"The present citizenship and passport arrangements are not broke, so why do we need to 'fix' them by making them so much more restrictive?

"If a New Zealander really is conspiring to be a terrorist, then charge him or her with that offence, but don't give a Minister with a political agenda the right to stop us leaving the country. We have a basic right as New Zealand citizens to travel abroad.

"The new measures appear to be driven from overseas, as part of the so-called 'war against terrorism' without any practical reasoning behind them. Some of the changes are just silly. Why require new citizens to take oaths at public ceremonies? Are we turning into Americans, who have to put their hand on their heart and publicly salute a flag?

"There is no adequate reason for the Government to make it harder for the spouses of New Zealanders to get citizenship, or to push the qualifying period out from three to five years, or to reduce the life of passports from ten years to five.

"The Bill also puts an unnecessary barrier in the way of hard-working migrants using their time on work permits to count towards their citizenship qualification period," said Mr Locke.

ENDS


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