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Immigration: Ministers see, hear and speak no evil

Lockwood Smith MP National Party Immigration Spokesman

18 November 2008

Immigration: Ministers see, hear and speak no evil

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says he does not buy the claims of senior Labour Minsters that they knew nothing of the trouble at the Pacific branch of the Immigration Service.

"The buck stops with these Ministers, who clearly knew what was going on. They appear to have adopted a defence of see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

"None of this is about the good administration of immigration policy, but an exercise in distancing Ministers from rather serious allegations that they knew about."

Dr Smith is questioning how Clayton Cosgrove can launch a review of residencies granted by the Pacific branch more than a year after the Mary Anne Thompson allegations first came to light.

"The Immigration Minister, who was fully briefed on those issues, previously said none of the stuff in the Oughton report was any of his business. He appears to have arbitrarily decided in hindsight that aspects of that report are his responsibility.

"So what has changed since December when he was briefed and decided to do nothing? What has changed since the previous Immigration Minister, David Cunliffe, was briefed a year ago and decided to do nothing?

"The year-old Oughton report made it clear that there were issues that required immediate attention and did require Ministerial action."

For instance, the report says those who missed out on residence because of the preferential treatment given to members of Ms Thompson's family that 'these people need to have their applications considered for special treatment as they have been disadvantaged by the actions of the in processing an application which was accepted out of time'.

"Yet Ministers were trying to wash their hands of these issues right up until the past week. Suddenly, Clayton Cosgrove has belatedly accepted some Ministerial responsibility. Why has it taken a year for any action?

"Successive senior Labour Ministers have abdicated their responsibility for the implementation of immigration policy in favour of a cover up. New Zealanders are sick of it."

ENDS

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