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1500 submissions on Immigration Act review

Hon David Cunliffe Minister of Immigration

1500 submissions on Immigration Act review

About 1500 individuals and organisations made submissions on the Labour-led government's Immigration Act Review discussion paper, says Immigration Minister David Cunliffe.

"A tentative count made after submissions closed on Saturday showed there were more than 300 original submissions," Mr Cunliffe said.

"In addition, 29 identical submissions came from the Fijian community in New Zealand and 1158 identical submissions came from the broader Pacific community."

The review will now move to its next phase – a thorough analysis of the submissions by officials – in the lead up to the drafting of a new Immigration Bill to replace the existing, outdated 1987 statute.

"I have been delighted with how the submission period has gone since the release of the discussion document on April 5," Mr Cunliffe said.

"There were 19 stakeholder meetings nationwide in May and early June, attended by at least 650 people. I thank those who attended, showed an interest and lodged submissions."

After the submissions are analysed, a summary document will be released. Copies of submissions will be made available then.

"My aim is to have a bill ready to be introduced to Parliament by April 2007."

Mr Cunliffe said the draft proposals in the paper represented the most comprehensive review of immigration law in two decades.

"The proposals are not government policy, but the submissions will inform the drafting of the new legislation later this year.

"This review aims to simplify and streamline the law to facilitate the entry of those migrants we want, and to enhance border security and tighten the law against those we don't want in New Zealand," the minister said.

Backgrounder

THE IMMIGRATION ACT REVIEW

The Government is reviewing the Immigration Act to ensure that New Zealand's immigration legislation encourages the entry of the people we need, while effectively protecting New Zealand's border.

Since the Immigration Act came into force in 1987, various amendments have been made to the legislation.

These include improvements to the removal regime for people unlawfully in New Zealand and strengthened provisions to prevent migrant smuggling and trafficking. A major change took place in 2003 with the introduction of the 'expression of interest' approach to selection of skilled migrants.

While these changes have all led to improvements in the way New Zealand's immigration system works, they have been piecemeal and resulted in increasingly complex legislation.

What does the review aim to achieve? The purpose of this review is to make fundamental changes to immigration legislation.

This review aims to provide New Zealand with a strong legislative foundation, to allow us develop future focused policies and encourage economic growth.

To achieve this, immigration legislation needs to be clear, comprehensive and appropriate to New Zealand's needs. With this in mind, the objectives of the review are to:

· Ensure New Zealand's interests are protected and advanced

· Ensure compliance with international obligations · Establish fair, firm and fast decision-making processes · Modernise and simplify the legislation.

What does the review cover? This is a review of immigration legislation, rather than a direct review of policy or operational procedures.

Possible changes outlined in the discussion document include:

· A clear, guiding purpose statement for the Immigration Act;

· Simplifying the visa/permit system;

· Increasing the delegation of the Minister of Immigration's powers to officials;

· More comprehensive grounds for excluding non-citizens from entering NZ, and a streamlined approach to the expulsion of non-citizens;

· Clarifying and simplifying systems of review and appeal of decisions;

· Using classified information in decision-making;

· Strengthening compliance, enforcement and detention provisions, including the ability to obtain biometric information where necessary;

· Strengthening obligations on third parties (such as sponsors, employers, carriers and education providers);

· Establishing a single procedure that assesses all international obligations to protect a person, rather than considering obligations individually.

ENDS

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