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Passport Office should rubberstamp smiling :o)

30 June 2005

Passport Office should rubberstamp smiling :o)

The Passport Office should stop refusing to accept passport photos showing people who are smiling, Green MP Keith Locke says.

The media have reported that the Internal Affairs-based office is sending back photos of people who don't have a "neutral expression" and their mouth closed.

"The Passport Office should lighten up," Mr Locke, the Greens' Human Rights Spokesperson, says.

"Most people arriving in our fair land have smiles on their faces and there is nothing wrong with having passport photos to match.

"If a returning New Zealander is glum, our friendly immigration officers can easily induce a smile.

"Most Kiwis like to have smiley photos, rather than ones that make them look like a grim, wanted criminal.

"Is the next step to be that people won't be allowed to smile at Customs so they match their miserable passport photos? Does our Government really want to suppress joy and happiness?

"We shouldn't be bending our requirements to suit the Bush Administration, which wants serious robotic faces for their immigration database.

"At the moment the British people are rebelling against Tony Blair's moves to a universal ID card, including a digitalised facial image in every passport. We shouldn't be going down the same track.

"The Passport Office shouldn't hide behind 'international requirements' for this new step towards a 'big brother' society," Mr Locke says.

ENDS

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