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Alarming claims in immigration report

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

29 April 2008

Alarming claims in immigration report

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says the previously secret report into claims levelled at a top official at the Immigration Service makes for alarming reading.

“The Immigration Minister has washed his hands of this ‘operational matter’, but papers attached to the previously secret report, and witness accounts since, suggest the ‘do nothing’ Ministerial approach is not good enough.”

Dr Smith says on page three of the interim report, compiled by former Secretary for Justice David Oughton, there is a serious allegation that points to a worrying culture within that department.

It says ‘it was not unusual’ for an official, whose name has been withheld, to employ the ‘practice of taking difficult cases around staff until _____ finds someone who will do what ___ wants’.

In the final report, Mr Oughton notes: ‘I was told by staff members that the recording of ‘as instructed by…’ is not an isolated case. The fact that staff feel obliged to make such an entry in order to protect themselves from what they regard as breaches of policy is a matter of concern’.

“It’s little wonder that Labour wanted this report kept secret, it suggests un-named senior officials are routinely standing over staff to process applications that don’t fit our immigration criteria.

“Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove must offer an assurance that the very narrow inquiry that has been asked for covers precisely how many times this happens, who is doing it, and for what reasons.”

Dr Smith says a robust and reliable immigration policy is vitally important for New Zealand because so many Kiwis are leaving the country.

“This kicked off with what looked like an isolated case involving one senior official. My read of the Oughton report suggests the problem could be bigger than that.”


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