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Confidence in Immigration reserved

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

21 April 2008

Confidence in Immigration reserved

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith is asking how the public can have faith in the head of the Immigration Service when Helen Clark won’t express confidence in that senior official.

“Helen Clark reserved expressing her confidence in Mary-Anne Thompson because she had not read a secret report about how Ms Thompson’s family members received visas in an irregular process.

“If the Prime Minister can’t express confidence in her, how can the public be expected to just trust that everything has been handled appropriately?”

Helen Clark said this morning that because the case had been made public, it was possible it could be referred on to the State Services Commission.

But Dr Smith says there may be no need for an SSC inquiry if the first investigation has adequately dealt with the issues.

“We don’t know that yet, let’s see the report. Even Minister Clayton Cosgrove had concerns, what were they?

“Mr Cosgrove must arrange for more details of the first investigation to be made public, while protecting individual privacy. This is a serious matter and it requires a serious response.

“Immigration is a vitally important policy area because so many New Zealanders are leaving. Labour must deal immediately with any perception that the rules will be relaxed for senior officials and their families.

“As Minister, Mr Cosgrove should care about the level of confidence that the public has with his department, given its chequered history.

“This is the same department which was responsible for the ‘lying in unison’ scandal, and which failed to act on allegations involving former Labour MP Taito Philip-Field.

“The Government can’t sit by and watch one of its most senior officials tarnished by a perception that the department has something to hide.”

ENDS

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