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Immigration Service—Mary Anne Thompson

Thursday 31 July 2008 Hansard source (external site)

Smith7. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) Link to this
to the Minister of Immigration

Does he stand by his statement on 3 July 2008 that the circumstances in which family members of Mary Anne Thompson obtained residence appeared irregular; if so, what were those irregularities?

JonesHon SHANE JONES (Associate Minister of Immigration) Link to this

Yes. The detail of these matters is being addressed in the various investigations that are currently under way.

SmithDr the Hon Lockwood Smith Link to this

Was one of the irregularities discovered by the Oughton inquiry the fact that residents’ permits were granted to the applicants even though they did not qualify in terms of Government immigration policy; and is such a breach of Government policy an issue of relevance to the Minister of Immigration?

JonesHon SHANE JONES Link to this

The member refers to the Oughton report, which is now publicly available. The content of that report is now the subject of wide, sweeping inquiries. The member well knows that the issuance of residency undertaken by an official was beyond that official’s delegated authority.

SmithDr the Hon Lockwood Smith Link to this

Is it correct that another irregularity that the Oughton report established was that legitimate applications from Kiribati citizens were declined because of apparently unlawful decisions made within the Pacific division of the Immigration Service; and is such a breach of Government policy also an issue of relevance to the Minister of Immigration?

JonesHon SHANE JONES Link to this

Of relevance to ministerial oversight is the fact that a review is currently under way in relation to the Pacific division. Allegations of the nature referred to by the member are being swept up in that, the State Services Commission’s review, and the Auditor-General’s exercise.

SmithDr the Hon Lockwood Smith Link to this

Is it correct that another irregularity discovered by the Oughton inquiry was that staff members were recording “as instructed by”, on decisions they regarded as breaches of Government policy, when they were told to make those decisions by management; if so, are such serious breaches of Government policy issues of relevance to the Minister of Immigration?

JonesHon SHANE JONES Link to this

I repeat: the State Services Commission is undertaking a review, the Pacific division is currently under review, and the Auditor-General is exploring these matters. Any further concerns, allegations, and reflections of the fevered imagination of the member should be taken to the necessary reviews.

SmithDr the Hon Lockwood Smith Link to this

Which of the three recommendations in the Oughton report—first, that applicants who had missed out because of unlawful decision-making needed special consideration, something only the Minister could do; second, that an explicit protocol was needed to cover applications from persons who had relatives or extended family members in the department; and, third, there was a wider problem of staff being instructed to make unlawful decisions by management, without authority to give those instructions—is just an employment matter, as claimed by the Minister of Immigration at the time?

JonesHon SHANE JONES Link to this

One part of the member’s contributions is accurate: the Minister did receive a briefing in the context of an employment matter. The other issues referred to by the member—evident in the publicly available copy of the Oughton report—are now being swept up in the State Services Commission’s review.

SmithDr the Hon Lockwood Smith Link to this

Is it correct the Minister of Immigration who was briefed on those serious irregularities in August last year, following the completion of the Oughton inquiry in July last year, was the Hon David Cunliffe?

JonesHon SHANE JONES Link to this

As has been outlined in the House on several occasions, the previous Minister received a briefing in the context of there being problems of an employment nature. Secondly, they were addressed by the chief executive officer at the time; and if there are outstanding issues of the nature hinted at by the member, I am quite confident they will be exhaustively addressed within the report of the State Services Commission.

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