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Report on immigration scandal the first of four

Lockwood Smith MP
National Party Immigration Spokesman

2 October 2008

Report on immigration scandal the first of four

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith hopes the first of four reports into scandals involving those at the top of the Immigration Service sheds more light on the murky goings-on at the Pacific Division.

“There’s no doubt the handling of the Oughton report into unlawful decision-making at the Immigration Service was diabolical. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll start getting some idea of precisely who knew what, when.”

Dr Smith is commenting ahead of tomorrow’s release of a report by the State Services Commission into the way the Immigration Service handled the Oughton report, which made serious claims about policy breaches and unlawful decision-making.

“That report was kept hidden from the public until the pressure started going on the Labour Government to provide some answers. It made alarming claims that staff were being instructed to approve applications by managers, and some felt so uncomfortable about it that they had started writing ‘as instructed by’ on the bottom of official documents.”

Dr Smith says two senior Ministers have admitted either knowing about the allegations, or being briefed on the report, but no one said anything publicly for more than a year.

“There was clearly some sensitivity because it involves Mary-Anne Thompson, a close former adviser to Helen Clark.

“But these were matters that cut to the heart of public confidence in the Immigration Service, and National is sceptical of claims that senior figures in the Government did not know, and never asked what was going on in the department.

“Tomorrow, I guess we’ll see the next instalment of this saga, when the SSC delivers its report.”

Dr Smith says there are currently four inquiries under way in relation to related matters, involving the police, the Auditor-General, the Department of Labour, and the State Services Commission.

ENDS

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