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Did Ministers cover up immigration claims?

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

6 May 2008

Did Ministers cover up immigration claims?

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says Government Ministers should reveal whether they knew about the Immigration Service cover up of serious allegations against one of its top officials.

“We don’t need to wait for any inquiry for the Ministers involved to tell the public whether or not they knew about the claims against Mary-Anne Thompson. So far, neither Clayton Cosgrove nor his predecessor, David Cunliffe, have told the public what they knew and when.

“If, as Helen Clark says, Mr Cosgrove has been keeping his colleagues informed, when did they first find out about what is looking increasingly like a concerted effort to stop details of the allegations reaching the public arena.”

Dr Smith is also registering his concern about the shabby process that has now been employed to investigate the allegations.

“This is the second inquiry into these matters. The first one was obviously kept deliberately narrow, and then its findings covered up. History is now repeating itself, with the Immigration Minister ordering a new inquiry with no terms of reference, and no clear undertaking that the public will be given the whole story.

“All the State Services Commissioner has said is that he will report to Ministers. Would these be the same Ministers who hushed the earlier investigation up for months?

“Clayton Cosgrove initially tried to dismiss the serious allegations as an operational matter. Yesterday, Helen Clark tried to distance the Government further from responsibility by wrongly suggesting this was a matter for the Chief Executive of the Immigration Service.

“Allegations like this cut to the heart of public confidence in our immigration policy. Immigration policy is vital for New Zealand because so many Kiwis are leaving for greener pastures.

“The longer this saga goes on, the more it starts to smell.”


ENDS

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