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Minister to seek change to citizenship proposals

11 August 2004 Media Statement

Minister to seek change to citizenship proposals

Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter is working to exclude existing permanent residents from tough new citizenship requirements proposed in the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill.

"The Bill, currently before select committee, will increase the residence period required for New Zealand citizenship from three years to five years for all persons who apply for citizenship after January 1 2005," Mr Carter said today.

"This will mean that tens of thousands of existing permanent residents living and working in New Zealand today will have to wait substantially longer to become citizens even if they are just days away from satisfying existing requirements on January 1.

"As Minister for Ethnic Affairs, I have received numerous submissions from people arguing that this is unfair, and seeking for the new rules to apply only to those people who are first granted residence after 1 January 2005," Mr Carter said.

"I have raised this issue with internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins and other Cabinet colleagues. There does seem to be support for excluding people already in New Zealand from the five-year provision. However, because the Bill is currently before a select committee, colleagues want to hear public submissions on the issue first.

"I am urging all ethnic communities affected by the Bill to make submissions to the select committee. They can do so by sending 20 copies of their submission to be the Clerk of Committee, Government Administration Committee, Room 10:12, Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Submissions close on Friday 10 September at 5.00pm.

ENDS

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