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Council Protests Loss of Ancestry Privileges

Media Release
March 26 2008

British/New Zealand Trade Council Protests Loss of Ancestry Privileges

The British/New Zealand Trade Council is to protest to the British Home Secretary and other British government politicians through the British High Commission in Wellington against the possible withdrawal of prioritised access to the UK for New Zealanders under the 'Grandfather' clause as outlined in a recent UK Green Paper.

At their recent annual meeting the BNZTC members passed a resolution deciding to make the strongest possible representations to key figures in Britain and New Zealand to protect the traditional provisions guaranteed by the immigration rules as they stand at present.

The British Government has just ended consultation on proposals to significantly change its visa rules in a bid to stem a growing influx of people across its borders - particularly after the expansion of the European Union.

BNZTC patron and former New Zealand government minister George Gair said that New Zealand had always pulled its weight in the UK, adding value to both countries. The retention of rights was unlikely to add immigration pressure to the UK yet the provision of the privilege generated great goodwill between the two countries.

He advocated seeking support in Britain: specifically from Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford and Labour's Austin Mitchell, who had already written to the UK Daily Telegraph quoting the actual figures — in 2006 only 8 490 ancestry visa holders came of whom only 1 940 were New Zealanders — and saying that it was 'enormously potent emotionally'.

Further fuel to the fire was added this week by the proposal to cut visa-free visits from six months to three for business and holidaymakers wanting to go to Britain. Prime Minister Helen Clark is reported as intending intense lobbying efforts to prevent these changes going ahead.

The BNTC agrees that the visa cut would be particularly irksome for business people - their six-month visa-free period would be cut to three months — and supports the prime minister in her formal submission to her British counterpart.

It is ironic, said Mr Gair, that the European section of the New Zealand population is to be discriminated against, especially when most Europeans here derive their ancestry or parentage from the British Isles.

'We want to retain the terms of entering under the UK ancestry route with free access to the labour market on entry, automatic permission to stay for four years and then make an application for permanent residence and a British passport.' he said.


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