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PM’s move on immigration claims curious

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

22 April 2008

PM’s move on immigration claims curious

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says he is curious why Helen Clark has ordered a second independent probe into claims relating to an official at the Immigration Service, when the first inquiry remains secret.

“Yesterday morning she reserved confidence in Mary-Anne Thompson and said she hadn’t read the secret report into irregular visas for the official’s family members. By yesterday afternoon she was announcing that the case was to be sent to the State Services Commissioner for a second investigation.

“What is Immigration trying to hide? It won’t release the first inquiry, after Minister Clayton Cosgrove raised concerns, but now a second inquiry is being ordered. If the first inquiry stacks up – why is there to be a second one?

“How many inquiries does it take to get to the truth under this Labour Government?”

Dr Smith observes that Mary-Anne Thompson used to work in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, alongside the now State Services Commissioner Mark Prebble.

“So, for that reason, Mr Prebble should consider standing aside from any inquiry. He knows Mary-Anne Thompson well and he will not want to compromise the independence of any SSC report.”

Dr Smith notes that Helen Clark says inquiries into the irregular visa process are staffing matters and not something for Ministers to get involved in.

“But Clayton Cosgrove is already involved. He says he was the one who raised concerns. What does he know?

“But I disagree with her, in any case. Any public perception that the rules are being bent for senior officials cuts to the heart of confidence in the department. That lies squarely at the feet of the Minister.”

ENDS

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