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Politicians, Favours and Immigration

Politicians, Favours and Immigration
Blog: Jamie Whyte, ACT Party Leader

Today the Herald ran a story about Kim Dotcom’s residency application which suggested that political pressure had been applied in his favour. Who knows the truth in this case?

But politicians’ involvement with would-be immigrants is clearly a problem. Maurice Williamson, Phillip Field, Shane Jones, Damien O’Connor and now Jonathan Coleman have been drawn into controversy.

Even if there has been no improper behaviour, the appearance of politicians doing favours for wealthy would-be immigrants undermines public confidence not only in our immigration system but in politics more generally. People will suspect that politicians are doing favours for these would-be immigrants in return for favours they have done the politicians.

The problem has a simple solution. The Minister of Immigration should have no involvement in the immigration application process. Nor should any other MP. Immigration applications are an operational matter. Political interference should play no role in them.

When exceptions to standard policy need to be considered, this should be done by qualified members of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), which already exists. The IPT may need a wider remit to approve exceptional cases. That is a proper matter for politicians to decide. But once the rules and processes are established, politicians should play no further role in the matter. They should have no say in individual cases.

New Zealand is governed by the rule of law, not the arbitrary whim of politicians. Immigration should be no exception. So long as it is, connections between rich would-be immigrants and politicians will undermine public confidence in the integrity of the system.


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