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Immigration: Minister wrong on zero tolerance

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

17 June 2008

Immigration: Minister wrong on zero tolerance

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove is simply wrong to claim that the service has a zero tolerance approach to misbehaving staff.

“He’s wrong, because the Oughton report says he’s wrong. He’s wrong, because we already know that Mary Anne Thompson was warned about interfering in immigration applications involving family members, but continued to do so.”

Dr Smith is commenting after Mr Cosgrove told Parliament that his department does not tolerate staff misbehaviour.

“But the statistics, and the Oughton report, tell a different story. That report lays out serious allegations that staff were being ordered by managers to approve dubious applications.

“The culture got so bad that officials started disclosing that they had been instructed to approve the application by a particular manager.

“That’s why the anonymous letter from an immigration officer, released earlier today, is so relevant. It alleges policy was ignored so office quotas could be filled.

“This is the second time in as many months that this allegation has been made. I certainly hope Mr Cosgrove’s defence of his department is not misplaced.”

Dr Smith says Minister Cosgrove and his predecessor David Cunliffe have both confirmed in official parliamentary questions that theft, fraud and other issues of dishonesty have been identified in that department.

“Mr Cosgrove told Parliament today that the Immigration Service processes 500,000 transactions every year. How many more dubious transactions have to take place before the Minister does anything about them?”


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