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Robson: Identity Citizenship Travel Documents Bill

Identity (Citizenship And Travel Documents) Bill

Matt Robson Speech to Parliament First Reading Thu 29 July 2004

Mr Speaker

I rise to oppose the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill. The leader of the Progressive party Jim Anderton will be supporting the bill to select committee.

While we differ in our vote on this debate and while there has been debate within the growing membership of Progressive, we agree that we want migrants to continue to be welcomed by all New Zealanders.

We agree we want immigration to continue with the emphasis on skilled and trained future citizens. We agree on our Progressive policy to support active measures to welcome migrants, to minimise social and political division and to assist with settlement and integration. We agree that New Zealand must protect all from bigotry and racism.

Politicians love to say that legislation they favour is sending a message. This bill sends two clear messages. Under the citizenship provisions it says to every migrant: “We don’t trust you,” and so two more years will be added to your probationary period for citizenship.

And in the passport provisions to every New Zealander it says: “We can deprive you of the right to travel even though you have committed no crime.”

The use of your passport will no longer be a democratic right if clause 27 is passed. If the Security Intelligence Service or the Police believe that you are a threat to New Zealand’s international or economic well-being then by administrative action through the Minister of Internal Affairs your passport or travel document will be withdrawn.

I call this the Ahmed Zaoui clause. I am sure that the many New Zealanders who are appalled at the lack of natural justice through the misuse of classified information on the grounds of national security to deny Ahmed Zaoui fair treatment will give it the same name.

Under the Bill the individual will have to prove to the Court that the Minister has not acted with due cause. And as thousands of New Zealanders who will be supporting Ahmed Zaoui this Sunday, 1 August, know, it is nearly impossible to disprove classified information. The test for the Court in clause 27 is not that the matter must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Nor is it on the balance of probabilities. The SIS or the Police do not even have to have accurate information. No, all they have to do is produce credible information that reasonably supports the allegation.

This bill does not help us “to build together”. This bill divides us. This bill place unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles in the path of those who have made New Zealand their home by choice.

There has not been any consultation with the public. Perhaps some favoured groups have been in the know.

But with such an anti-democratic measure perhaps that is to be expected, if not desirable.

Why didn’t the responsible ministers consult with the ethnic communities who will be affected by the proposed measures.

The same question can be asked about consultation with Pacific communities.

Responsible ministers should have sought opinion from the various groups that would draw breath at the introduction of a new power i.e. withdrawal of a passport or travel document on the say-so of the Security Intelligence Service.

We have a real stake in the fair treatment of migrants everywhere.

Politicians, of all kinds, yes and even the coldly calculating New Zealand First with its ceaseless campaign against migrants, front up at ethnic gatherings to extol the virtues of migrant communities. They praise, in gushing tones the colourful and exotic costumes, the wonderful and tasty foods, the sacrifice, their academic, cultural and sporting achievements. No praise is too fawning, particularly at election times when votes are keenly sought.

But on the other side of town these same politicians will pledge that they will tighten immigration rules, that migrants who commit serious crimes will be deported (which has always been the case for non-citizens except in exceptional circumstances), that they will not allow us to be a “soft touch” for refugees and illegal migrants. They are happy to amalgamate “immigrant “and “refugee” as a single term of insult.

Dr Allen Bartley of Massey University, himself a migrant from America, got it right when he said “When, in the 1990s, Winston Peters talked about foreigners inflating house prices and driving up interest rates, I knew on an intuitive level that he was not referring to me.”

And they are happy to claim that they are the migrant’s friends. They want the vote delivered.

Yet these self-same parties are responsible for the bureaucratic and inhumane regulations that are governing immigration policy and law and the treatment of refugees. And now Labour wants to add a further oppressive layer.

The unjustifiable changes to citizenship and granting the Minister power to seize passports are being smuggled in under the guise of fighting terrorism and people smugglers.

Five years of residence instead of three for citizenship applications

To be granted the right of residence in New Zealand applicants undergo a rigorous, thorough and lengthy check. It is also expensive. They have to prove good character, medical fitness and that they fit the particular category under which they have applied.

It is not easy. It is not quick. It is not a “soft touch”.

Many years can pass before the green light of permanent residence is given.

Much is sacrificed in the brave decision to start a new life in a far away country.

The immigration forms which proclaim “New Zealand: the right choice” promise much.

On arrival it is not easy for every migrant. Our under resourced resettlement programmes provide limited assistance.

Many migrants face qualification recognition difficulties.

And now we are saying: we don’t trust you. Yes you have spent many years overcoming hurdles but in clause 8 we are going to add another two years before you can call yourself a kiwi.

And what is going to be found out further about a resident in five years, which becomes six years while awaiting the decision on the application, that wasn’t available in 3 years. Does membership of Al Queda only surface in the fourth year of a person’s residency?

The Progressive Party policy will that there is adequate resource to genuinely assist with settlement for migrants – from housing to education and employment. That is different from placing extra hurdles such as this bill. That is to provide practical assistance.

No other permit will be counted as part of the five year period

I have a friend who entered New Zealand to undertake a master’s degree. He was on a student permit and he obtained his degree after two years. His department thought so highly of him that they granted him a tutorship and an allowance to undertake a doctorate. That he obtained three years later. In the meantime he had contributed a number of scientific papers which were highly commended.

In this time he fell in love with a local person, a New Zealand born citizen, and they married. Their children were born here. He was highly sought after and became a partner in a local firm. A work permit was granted to him.

Four years later he and his family made the decision that they were not going to live in Dad’s home country.

Two years later he applied for citizenship. His time in New Zealand was taken into favourable account. He was granted citizenship six months later. Now the family can all travel to Australia for a holiday without Dad having to queue for a visa.

Now he can stand for his children’s Board of Trustees at their school. He can join the army if he wants to. He can stand for Parliament under the Progressive banner.

Under clause 4 of this bill none of his time prior to residence would count. Why? He might be a terrorist? It will reduce people smuggling?

Until Death Do Us Part – Marriage and Citizenship

Under present policy marriage to a New Zealand citizen may shorten the three –year waiting period for citizenship. But no longer under this bill, also contained in clause 8. The spouse under current policy still has to undergo all the character, police and medical checks of other applicants. They also have to prove that the marriage is genuine. And the earlier grant is discretionary.

But I had always thought that there was enormous support in Parliament for the “special nature “of marriage. At least I gathered that from all the hot air during the parliamentary debate on the Civil Union Bill.

I had always though that sponsorship by a New Zealand citizen to whom you were married and with whom you had New Zealand born children was a pretty special sort of guarantee that you were likely to be a good New Zealander.

Why on earth do we want to take away this discretionary right? Why on earth does Labour want to introduce this punitive step?

What it means is inequality of status for travel, jobs and all the rights of citizenship within a family.

Removal of citizenship for children born in New Zealand

The fact that children born in New Zealand, no matter what the status of their parents, automatically had the right to New Zealand citizenship has been in place for as long as I can remember. There have been very sensible public policy reasons for this.

It gives security of status to the children and they are not excluded from the benefits of healthcare and education that are automatically afforded to all other children in New Zealand. It means that they are not without education and healthcare no matter what the situation of their parents.

The stated target anyway is parents who come with the intention of their child becoming a citizen. But those parents are not, by virtue of having a child who is a New Zealand citizen, entitled to residence.

Perhaps this is a key anti-terrorist measure. The child, once an adult, will come back and practice terrorism. This is an example of smart, forward thinking that had escaped me.

Perhaps it is what is meant by combating people – smuggling as claimed in the introduction to the bill. The baby has been smuggled in Mummy’s tummy.

The Passport Issue - The Security Intelligence Service Does Not Trust You. The Ahmed Zaoui Clause

Never before in New Zealand has the Security Intelligence Service been granted a power, contained in clause 27, that is the norm in countries where the intelligence services are a law unto themselves.

In fact in many dictatorships the intelligence services issues passports. That was probably thought to be too dramatic a step at this stage.

The individual whose passport or travel document is withdrawn by the Minister of Internal Affairs, on the advice of the SIS or the Police, must prove to the High Court that the Minister has not acted with due cause.

But as Ahmed Zaoui has found, trying to disprove “classified information” is the labour of Sisyphus.

This introduces a dangerous anti-democratic practice into New Zealand. Citizens will be punished not for what is proven against them by the state in open court with the protection of being innocent until proven guilty with all rights of natural justice preserved, but through an administrative procedure where they must prove their innocence. And with the SIS being able to claim that “evidence” can’t be produced because it is classified.

Furthermore the category of classified security information will now extend to information held by the Police.

No wonder the responsible ministers did not consult on this proposal.

All New Zealanders, migrant and non-migrant, should oppose with one voice this attempt to undermine the rule of law.

In one move we are attacking the rule of law and throwing aside the provision in article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and in section 18 of the Bill of Rights Act of the guarantee of the right to leave and return to your own country.

Passports To Be Issued Every Five Years.

If all the hurdles above are surmounted another, costly, barrier will be in place, in clause 24. Every 5 years instead of the present 10, we will fork out a hefty sum for passports.

It seems to me that advances in technology are perfectly able to ensure that the ten year passport, costly enough, is sufficiently protected to ensure its integrity.


It is time to draw a line against measures that deliver collective punishments against all migrants and measures that misuse the concern about terrorism to introduce a power to the SIS and the Police that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law and the right to natural justice.

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