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Fairness, certainty aim of Identity Bill changes

Fairness, certainty aim of Identity Bill changes

Proposed changes to the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill will ensure certainty and fairness for applicants, Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins and Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter say.

Mr Hawkins' amendment under a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) will mean a five-year residence requirement for citizenship proposed in the Bill would only apply to people obtaining their residence on or after 1 January 2005.

“This would mean people who are currently, or who become, residents before 1 January 2005 will only be required to meet the current three year residence requirement," Mr Hawkins said.

They would still have to meet the other requirements for a grant of citizenship and undergo the stringent checks that apply to all applicants, he said.

Mr Carter said the amendment would be welcomed by people who have obtained or will obtain New Zealand residency between 1 January 2002 and 1 January 2005.

"These people will only have to meet the current three-year residence requirement," Mr Carter said.

"The changes will guarantee fairness to all applicants and provide a greater level of certainty particularly for people who have become residents since 1 January 2002," he said.

“Having been a Minister of Ethnic Affairs, I am aware of concerns ethnic communities have around this issue and I am confident the change will address these while maintaining the Bill's security objectives,” Mr Hawkins said.

The Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill is currently before a select committee, which has called for submissions by 10 September 2004.

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