Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Internal Affairs) on behalf of the
Minister of Immigration: I move,
That the Immigration Bill be now read a third time. The review of the current Immigration Act started in late 2004. Now in 2009 the new Immigration Bill is having its third reading today. It is not a bad thing that the history of this bill has been lengthy. There has been extensive public consultation, which shows the importance of getting this legislation right. It has also been the opportunity for this Government to make some key changes to the bill. I thank the hard-working officials, the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and my parliamentary colleagues
right across the House. I also acknowledge the contributions that previous Ministers of Immigration have made.
The aim of the Immigration Act review was to modernise and future-proof our immigration legislation. The future is upon us, and this bill has never been more important. It is vital that we have legislation that allows us to protect the security of New Zealand’s border and the integrity of our immigration system. We must also manage immigration in a fair and balanced way. This bill allows us to do all of those things.
One of the reasons that the Government’s aim to create a world-class immigration system is so important is the essential contribution that immigration makes to New Zealand. Consider, for instance, the fact that between 2001 and 2006, 60 percent of New Zealand’s workforce were migrants. In the crucial age group between 25 to 34 years, all of the growth came from migrants. In 2005-06 migrants contributed an amazing 68 percent more in taxes than they received in benefits and services, a net financial contribution from our migrant population of about $3.3 billion. Immigration also plays an invaluable part in the success of our tourism industry and the export education industry. Along with the economic contribution that immigration makes, a world-class immigration system is also important to the Government’s goal of bringing expat New Zealanders home. We want to make it easy for them to come home and to bring their families with them.
The current Immigration Act was written before the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It contains a number of provisions that may be inconsistent with that Act. For example, the current Immigration Act has a provision that enables forced inoculation. That provision has not been carried over into this bill.
The Government was concerned about the practical implications of a recent Supreme Court decision that required a complex humanitarian test to be applied by immigration officers at the final point of removing an overstayer. That is why the Government’s Supplementary Order Paper 32 included amendments to the Immigration Act 1987 in relation to the cancellation of a removal order, and to the provisions in the bill relating to the cancellation of a deportation order. There is a formal process that allows most overstayers to lodge a humanitarian appeal within 42 days of becoming overstayers if there is good reason they should not leave New Zealand. The time for overstayers to raise concerns is not at the last minute before they board the plane. Expecting an immigration officer to apply a complex legal case at that time is just not practical. However, immigration officers will still take account of New Zealand’s recent relevant international obligations when executing removal or deportation orders, if an overstayer gives information relevant to those obligations to the officers. The amendments to the bill have made this clear.
Immigration legislation will always create debate. It is about people. But we must always remember that the Government’s decisions about immigration are made in the best interests of New Zealand and our people. Balanced with the sovereign right of the New Zealand Government to make immigration decisions, the bill clearly and closely prescribes the rights of foreign nationals. For those who do the right thing, the compliance aspects of the bill should not be of concern. However, to address the circumstances where people do the wrong thing and seek to abuse our openness and generosity, the provisions are necessary.
For example, there has been some discussion in the House around the use of biometric information. Most people have nothing to fear about the use of biometrics, as that information should actually facilitate quicker and easier interaction with the immigration system. The bill contains robust safeguards for the collection, storage, and use of biometrics. On the other hand, for those who seek to abuse the system, we know
that paper-based identity documents are inadequate to manage risk. The use of biometric information should help us identify those who seek to commit identity fraud. The use of biometric information is regarded as being essential to a modern immigration system.
There are several other positive changes to the current legislation that I would like to highlight today. The bill’s purpose is to manage immigration in a way that balances the national interest, as determined by the Crown, and the rights of individuals. This statement strikes at the heart of what I have been talking about in the House today. The bill establishes a universal visa system that maintains flexibility in managing people’s travel to New Zealand and to stay here. It removes the distinctions between the categories of visa, permit, and exemption, and uses the single term “visa”. This change will make life easier for migrants to New Zealand, as “visa” is widely accepted and understood by them. The bill introduces a new concept in allowing interim visas to be granted for the purpose of maintaining the lawful status of foreign nationals when they have applied for a further visa and their application is being considered. This indeed is a very positive change.
The bill creates a streamlined deportation process that balances efficiency with fairness. In most cases the bill allows foreign nationals to remain lawfully in New Zealand and continue to work or study if they are permitted to do so if they appeal. The bill allows for liability for deportation to be cancelled or suspended at the discretion of the Minister, and suspended on appeal by the tribunal. A suspension may be used to put foreign nationals who are liable for deportation on a form of good behaviour bond. The bill creates a new independent appeals body, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, to replace the four existing appeals bodies. It essentially maintains the existing rights to appeal, but creates a more streamlined appeals process.
A huge number of people have made contributions to this bill. That is why I am comfortable in saying that it is a bill for all of New Zealand. On behalf of the Minister of Immigration, the Hon Jonathan Coleman, I thank the members of the public who have made submissions, the officials from the Department of Labour and other Government agencies who have worked on this legislation, the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, which clearly has done a lot of work on considering the legislation and these important changes, my ministerial colleagues who have had input, and members of the Opposition whom I have acknowledged.
On that note this third reading is the final step in the parliamentary phase of the review of the Immigration Act. It has been a long time coming. The implementation work will begin next. I look forward to that and to the new systems that the bill provides for, and putting them in place. On behalf of the Minister of Immigration, I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.
Hon PETE HODGSON (Labour—Dunedin North)
: I am not sure I will need all of my 10 minutes in this third reading debate on the Immigration Bill. I acknowledge the speaker who has just resumed his seat, the Hon Nathan Guy, who gave us an overview of the legislation. I will make some remarks that I hope are not repetitive of what the member has just said. This is the first time in over 20 years that we have looked at a complete rewrite of the immigration legislation, and in that time the movement of peoples across borders has increased hugely. This is partly because of immigration per se—people migrating—and partly because of the explosion in tourism numbers. There are now 2.5 million people who cross our borders every year, and that number will continue to increase. As a nation, we need to keep our borders open and safe, so immediately there is tension because an open border will be less safe than a closed one. But there is no way that this country can operate without having very, very open borders.
Indeed, there is another tension in immigration. On the one hand, the Immigration Service sets out to be a gatekeeper, and, on the other hand, it sets out to be a recruitment agency. Those two issues are directly in conflict, but it must do both. There is a need for New Zealand to keep itself safe from people who purport to be something they are not, such as people who might have criminal intent or might have deployed misinformation to represent themselves as being a good possibility for a work visa or for permanent residence. However, we are in a competition for talent with the rest of the developed world and an increasing part of the developing world. There is a global quest for talent. New Zealand does pretty well in that global quest, simply because we are a relatively attractive country in terms of lifestyle and so on. We are not a high-wage economy, so people do not come here; they go to California to make a bucket of money, but they come here, often from California, after they have made a bucket of money. We are part of that global quest for talent.
For all those reasons, the legislation needed a complete rewrite. It began pretty much under the watch of the Hon David Cunliffe, although there was some early work done by Minister Dalziel before she left that job. The Hon David Cunliffe was the Minister who introduced the bill into the House, and it is worth noting the efforts that occurred at that time with both him and, more particularly, with officials. Having arrived in the House, the bill was referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, which was chaired by the Hon Mark Gosche. The Hon Mark Gosche is no longer a member of this Parliament, but he is a fine guy. I am sure that members on the Government benches who were on the select committee, such as the Hon Dr Lockwood Smith, would hold that view too. Mark Gosche is a fine man. When he turned his mind to immigration, most people on the committee would agree that he was the person who led the quite significant changes that occurred to the legislation in the course of that select committee. The Hon David Cunliffe would point out that as the bill passed through his hands, a bunch of changes were made. In a sense, those changes and the direction of those changes occurred under the chairpersonship of the Hon Mark Gosche and with assistance from across the House of those folk who were on the select committee. I was not on the select committee, but I am sure I am entitled to congratulate it on what was a pretty hard look at quite a big piece of legislation. I think it is useful to put on the record that the select committee process, as far as I am aware, worked really well.
The bill then came back to the House where it languished for some time, when officials made a bunch of other changes that resulted in a very large Supplementary Order Paper. That is not an unusual thing, but it led to a further set of consultations with Labour members and I acknowledge the Government, the Minister, and the officials for that. We ended up arguing over the details of some of that Supplementary Order Paper. In particular, my colleague the Hon Lianne Dalziel, with her legal background, was able to carry that argument well into the detail. That Supplementary Order Paper was then put in front of the House, and a couple of mistakes in it were picked up by Lianne Dalziel, and changes were made in the course of the bill making its way through the House.
That was an example of cross-party analysis to try to get legislation that had the right level of tension in it. Immigration law has to be harsh in one respect, because it has to say no to people in a way that is, if you will, full and final, and it has to be fair, because we demand fair processes in this country and we are obliged to maintain fair processes because of our obligations under some aspects of international law, especially as it affects refugees. We have international obligations and national obligations, and they are both for fairness, but we have an obligation to ourselves to make sure that if we catch crooks, we can throw them back to where they came from. That is what I mean when I speak of tension. It is just an inevitable part of any immigration law.
That concludes my remarks. The Minister of Internal Affairs, who spoke at the start of the third reading of the bill, took us through what the legislation does. I have spoken mostly about process. I have spoken favourably, even glowingly, of some folk who have been involved in this legislation—other than myself, as I had a very minor role. I think the House can take comfort that although I am sure someone will find fault with it soon enough, this legislation has been subject to the sort of inquiry and detailed examination that we would hope all legislation is subject to.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East)
: Mr Assistant Speaker—
Hon Member: Great speech!
DAVID BENNETT: Yes, it will be a great speech. The Immigration Bill, I think, is something that many members of this House, on both sides of the political spectrum, have put a lot of effort into, and I would like to follow the last speaker, the Hon Pete Hodgson, in congratulating Mark Gosche, who was a tremendous member of this House. He was held in high regard on both sides of the House, and also in the community. He was the chairperson when I joined the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee and when it first looked at this bill. I am sure that he would savour seeing this bill progress through the House, as well.
I congratulate the current members of the select committee, who have worked equally hard to make sure the bill goes through, as well as the Ministers who have been involved on both sides of the House—former Labour Ministers and current National Ministers.
Immigration is a topic that touches at the heart of many a New Zealander, not only in terms of our migrant roots but also in the nature of our perceptions of where we see our country going in the future. Many people will expect an immigration bill to deal with the substance of who comes to New Zealand, but this bill is not about who will be coming to New Zealand. It is about the substance of the procedures and processes that people will go through when they come to New Zealand.
That differentiation is at the heart of what this bill is about. It is about the processes we need to use when New Zealand opens its borders up to individuals and families coming to live here. When we looked at that, we saw that it is something that had not been done for many years and was due for reform. It took a while for each political party to come to terms with how it saw that reform working out in the end, but I think we have a very good solution that all parties will find they can live with. All parties that have taken an active interest in it have had the ability to influence and direct the vision that this bill portrays.
Although, as I said, this bill is not necessarily about who comes to New Zealand, that angle is one that many speakers will touch on in this third reading. I want to touch on it, as well. I think that New Zealand, as a country, can have a much more open approach to its immigration, and that we should not be afraid of being a country that enables other people to come here and make their lives in New Zealand. Far too often we try to jealously guard what we have here and we do not let in others who have the spirit that our country needs. This issue is all about the spirit, I think, to build a stronger future for the individuals who will build the future for our country.
The last member who spoke talked about California and the fact that people go there to make money and then come here to live. Well, people certainly go there to make money, but people do not come here to live after they have made money in California, because we do not get a lot of migrants coming from California to New Zealand. That is because they have a spirit with which they have built a future in that state and in that country, and we need to engage with that spirit in people around the world so that they want to come to New Zealand, make it their home, stay here, and do not want to leave.
Many migrants who come to New Zealand come on a very short-term basis, and once they get citizenship they look to move to fresher fields, like Australia or America. That is not sustainable for New Zealand, because we are in the global talent pool, looking for the best, brightest, and smartest in the world. There are some key things that we as a country need to do as the next steps beyond this immigration bill if we are serious about achieving our goals in the world, and about getting the right people to come to this country.
The first thing I think we need to do is have the attitude that we will be open and able to let people come to New Zealand. We need to be able to be seen as a country that offers opportunity, a future, and the spirit of hope and direction that those individuals will bring. Probably far too often we put too many limits on people coming to New Zealand. We look for academic achievements and monetary value, rather than looking at what they want to build and bring to this country. That should be the crucial thing that we look for in the future. Some of the Labour members may be trying to pooh-pooh that by saying that they are against it, but the reality is that we need those people here. We need to enable them to have a future in New Zealand.
When we look at the people in New Zealand we see that they are the strength of our country. The people of this country provide the future income-earning potential, the cultural and spiritual future, and the diversity in our communities. They provide a future for New Zealand that looks different from the New Zealand that many members of this House grew up in and very different from the New Zealand that members of this House are living in now.
New Zealand will change. It is inevitable that we will have this change. We have a choice as a country. We can embrace that change and make it happen, or we can try to stop that inevitable change. When it does happen we will not have the ability to influence it in terms of how we would have wished it to come about. I think most members, at the point that they leave this House, will realise the inevitability of some actions, the inevitability of the changing face of New Zealand, and the inevitability of the need for more migrants to come to New Zealand. They will realise the inevitability that this country will be an open place for migration, and the inevitability that New Zealand will need to provide an environment that attracts the right migrants. These are things that we need to do.
When I say the “right migrants”, I am looking at that spirit and ability to build a future, to get an education, to start a business, and to actually make New Zealand their home. That is the spirit that I think we should look for in our migrants. They should be people who want to make New Zealand the best place for their futures, and in doing so they will make New Zealand a much stronger place. That is the key to migration in the future, and that is the strength of California, as the previous speaker, Pete Hodgson, has said. California does not necessarily attract the most holders of doctorates, but it attracts the most spirited people who want to build a strong future, and they do that in that state. I think that is the thing we can look at as we go forward.
The second thing we need to look at when we look at immigration—on top of this bill; if we look at immigration on a wider scale—is the nature of the environment that we as a Government provide. National, in conjunction with its political allies in the coalition Government, is providing the kind of future that will provide that environment, whereas the previous Government did not provide an environment that allowed New Zealanders and migrants to see a future.
Now, that is a long-term gain. It is not done overnight, and it involves many issues, ranging from economic issues to social issues that affect people’s ability to see a future for themselves in a country. That is simply what National does better than Labour, and
it is what members see from this Government when it is compared with the previous one.
In effect, this bill sets out the procedures for immigration, but in doing so it touches on some of the wider issues that many of us in this House will have to debate and consider. Those issues include how we provide a much more open environment for migrants to come to New Zealand. They also include the environment we provide within New Zealand, so that those migrants can see their future here, wish to stay and make New Zealand their home, and build this country so it is as strong as we need it to be.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri)
: I join with other members in supporting the Immigration Bill. As has been previously said, this is the biggest rewrite of the Immigration Act in two decades. It is worth acknowledging the contribution of a number of Ministers of Immigration and latterly, of course, the current one, and I am sure he will take a call today on this bill. I think it is also worth acknowledging that this bill deals with some very, very emotional and high-profile issues. Throughout this debate, we have had debate about the ability to use classified information, and I am sure a Green member will probably deal with that again when the Green Party takes its call.
We have had debate about the ability the bill gives not to truncate but to put in place a single independent appeals tribunal. Whereas there were four appeal authorities before, which created—and a number of us who were Ministers at the time had to deal with this—the ability for those who were inappropriately in New Zealand to, bluntly, drag the chain through appellate body after appellate body after appellate body, and then make request of Ministers. This bill will not truncate their rights or somehow decrease their rights, but I am pleased that the House has accepted a single appellate tribunal to deal with all those rights in an efficient but fair way. I think those, perhaps from the Green Party or outside, who may stand in this in debate and make an argument that the rights of individuals are somehow being eroded because we have simply amalgamated, in its crudest form, the four appellate bodies into one tribunal, miss the mark in their argument.
I have said, and I said when I was Minister, that I think that people in New Zealand will have confidence in an immigration system, and confidence that that immigration system is bringing the right and appropriate folks into this country as migrants, only if they have an equal amount of confidence that we are appropriately and fairly dealing with those who are here under false pretences and those who are, or potentially are, bad guys, and that we are removing those people who would abuse our good graces as a country and our generosity as a nation, and who would also abuse our borders. If through this legislation we can get that balance right, we can increase the confidence in the community that we are attracting, efficiently processing, allowing into our country, and welcoming into our nation the right and appropriate folks, which is defined over a whole series of personal assets that they have. We need to do that, and I believe this bill will do that. We have to balance that with giving our immigration officials and department the appropriate tools to deal with those who would, bluntly, take advantage of our generosity. I think that this bill also gives us a basis on which to do that in terms of evidence.
As the previous Minister of Immigration, I have said in a number of the debates we have had as this legislation has gone through that I do not believe it is appropriate that we use as a measurement as to whether people should get into our country factors such as that they are seen to be popular by some interest groups—well meaning though those groups may be—that they have cooked for presidents, or that they may have converted to another religion en route to New Zealand via Seoul airport or wherever. Nor should
the measurement be that there is enough public pressure on either politicians or appellate bodies that those factors should be the measurements and benchmarks for allowing people to stay in this country. If we get to that stage, then we may as well do away with any relationship with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, for instance. We may as well dump the legislation if our benchmarks are to be the court of public opinion and listening to those who shout the loudest on behalf of a migrant. There have been such cases. I dealt with some, my predecessors dealt with some, and I am sure that the current Minister of Immigration will have to deal with those cases, if he is not doing so already. The pressure goes on from outside, often on religious grounds or on other well-meaning grounds, that we should acquiesce to that pressure and not make decisions based on the capability of our intelligence agencies or the capability of our Immigration Service. Somehow, we are meant to put aside any reference to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as the people who set the international benchmarks, and we are meant to make decisions based on public pressure. To put it bluntly, I think that some of the arguments that have been made by some individuals that a person is a good bloke, a good woman, or a nice person do not hold water.
I have said in earlier debates that I think all Ministers of Immigration carry with them the responsibility—and I choose my words carefully—to ensure that we secure our own borders. This is not to be confused, if members will excuse the pun, with a “New Zealand first” definition of what is right. Both meanings are relevant in this debate, whether it be in terms of our nation or in terms of the political party that does not exist in this House today. That party took a very, very different view, and it was one that I think did this country no credit in respect of immigration. I am glad that Tau Henare, who is a former New Zealand First member, nods in agreement with me. Maybe we have all grown up as a nation.
I think this legislation hits the mark. I was the Minister of Immigration just before the election. I recall giving a presentation to a particular group, and the current Speaker, Dr Lockwood Smith, who was National’s immigration spokesperson at the time, stood up and basically said that the National Party agreed with the legislation in the form that it had been put forward. I think that improvements have been made to it since. I think it is also appropriate that we acknowledge the officials who have worked on it. The officials were ridden pretty hard by a number of Ministers, including me, to get the legislation into shape. We relied as Ministers on the technical knowledge of people like Graham Buchanan, the Deputy Secretary of Labour. I hope that I have not truncated his career by naming him in the House while I am an Opposition member, but I acknowledge Graham Buchanan as the senior lawyer, if you will, in respect of this legislation. I acknowledge his legal team, the names of whom will be etched, I suspect, on the pages of the draft copies of this legislation as it went through.
I think this legislation is future-proofing at its very essence. It deals with new technologies. It allows more flexibility at the border for our immigration folk. I think that it gives appropriate levels of power to our Immigration Service and an appropriate level of discretion to the Minister to do the job of protecting our borders. It also has the counterbalance of making our immigration system more efficient—to grease the wheels, if you will—to allow a free flow of immigration with appropriate migrants.
From the self-interested view of the previous Minister of Immigration, I am particularly pleased about the delegations that the Minister will be allowed to provide in terms of residency policy. I know that I, and other Ministers of Immigration, often had to deal with almost a couple of hundred applications a week, it felt like. We dealt with them on planes, on buses, and in cars, and the silver suitcases followed us around the country. But I, as a Minister, often found it was reasonably absurd that the work had been done by a plethora of technicians and officials in the department, and then it was
up to the Minister to have the file put in front of him or her. The Minister has no technical knowledge on the subject—very few Ministers of Immigration who get that warrant have that knowledge, and if they do, they are very lucky—but is asked to make decisions on the papers. I recall that we often involved a number of senior managers in those decisions, because those senior managers worked with the units and had the intricate knowledge. So I am glad that there will be some discretion and that the ability to delegate has been put into the legislation.
I will conclude by simply restating Labour’s support for the legislation. I hope it will breathe new life into the Immigration Service, a department that has been kicked around by politicians—some who are here and some who are not—for many, many decades. I would note that although things have gone wrong in the department and there are individuals who have sinned, and there is one in particular whom I will not mention, I believe that the department as a whole is in very good heart. Immigration decisions by their very nature deal with human beings’ lives. In my view they are more of an art than a science. No two immigration decisions that I ever dealt with as the Minister were exactly the same in every particular way.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Tēnā koutou. I am presenting this speech on behalf of the Green Party’s immigration spokesperson, Keith Locke, who cannot be with us today, but is very passionate about this issue. The Green Party is voting against this Immigration Bill; it contains too many restrictions on people’s rights. But before we discuss that, I will talk briefly about migration. Many of us Pākehā here and others are descendants of migrants from the 19th and 20th centuries who had the good fortune to come into this country without having to pass through tight border controls. We were protected by an agreement called the Treaty of Waitangi. In that Treaty we were given rights and responsibilities towards tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti, which we need to uphold, including new migrants. The Green Party would like to see all migrants have a deeper understanding of what our obligations are in terms of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
However, getting back to this bill, I say that in the Committee stage of the bill the Green Party put forward several amendments to help address its human rights deficiencies, but none of them were successful. One of the major problems in this bill is the increasing secrecy in decision making on refugee claims, residence applications, and visa matters. The blanket of secrecy in immigration matters is now to cover many more Government institutions. Fourteen agencies can now determine immigration information to be “classified”. One of the Green amendments sought to reduce the number of those agencies to those who have traditionally had such information, namely, the Security Intelligence Service, the New Zealand Police, and the Government Communications Security Bureau. We oppose the other 11 agencies being included, such as the Aviation Security Service, Maritime New Zealand, the Ministry of Fisheries, and the Department of Corrections. These 14 agencies can not only use secret material against people in immigration cases but also stop the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and the courts from releasing any of this so-called classified information if the tribunal or the courts decide it should really be in the public domain. This means that a bureaucrat, say at the Ministry of Fisheries, can veto even the Supreme Court on what should be made public in a hearing, and that is a very dangerous thing.
The Greens also opposed the sometimes vague grounds for determining whether information should be determined classified or secret. For example, simply because the information is deemed to prejudice the “international relations of New Zealand” does not seem sufficient. On behalf of the Green Party, Mr Locke recently organised a short tour of Aotearoa New Zealand by Ms Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the Uyghur people, a mainly Muslim people who are discriminated against in the western part of China. It
appears that there was some discussion in New Zealand Government circles before she was granted a visa. Thankfully she was. But on one level, we can say that the decision to grant her a visa did prejudice the international relations of New Zealand, if we are talking about Government to Government relations, because the one-party State in China puts pressure on Governments around the world not to grant Ms Kadeer a visa. This pressure was successful in Taiwan, where the Government decided that she could not have a visitor’s visa. In fact, the University of Auckland administration, in an outrageous attack on academic freedom and the freedom of speech, cancelled the booking for Ms Kadeer’s Auckland meeting at the university, citing the effect the meeting would have on relationships with “Chinese partners”.
In addition, classified information is inherently unreliable, because it is less tested in the public space than unclassified information. Mr Stuart Grieve, the special advocate appointed by the Government to look at classified information in the Ahmed Zaoui case, was very scathing about the quality and accuracy of the classified information that he saw. Yet clause 289(2)(c) of the bill requires the High Court to treat classified information as accurate. That whole case was a shame on this nation’s history. Ahmed Zaoui, as many members will remember, spent time in solitary confinement, even though he was a democratically elected member of the Algerian Parliament. In relation to special advocates, it is disappointing that the Parliament voted down one of our amendments to allow the advocate to talk to the person whose interests he or she is representing after the advocate has seen the classified information. Surely we should trust the advocate, who is appointed on the recommendation of the Government, not to divulge anything really secret, like sources. It is difficult for people to properly defend themselves without being able to give those defending them the context of any evidence in the hearing. David Bain, for example, would not have been able to clear his name under such restrictions as proposed in this bill.
The Green Party moved an amendment to stop the Minister of Immigration being able to rely on classified information in refugee and protection claims. To be able to rely on such information is dangerous and contrary to international best practice. Classified information can be rumours spread by spiteful people. It can be disinformation spread by State agencies of the asylum seeker’s home country—as was the case with lies spread by the Algerian junta in the Ahmed Zaoui case. Even more confusing, it can be slander spread by the intelligence agencies of democratic countries, because it fits the narrow interest of their Governments. For example, good economic reasons—that is, access to oil contracts—made the French Government retell the Algerian Government’s lies about Ahmed Zaoui. To increase fairness, the Green Party put in an amendment to allow for appeals of the cases involving classified information. Presently, clause 234 prevents this from happening.
There is an extreme arbitrary power given to the executive under clause 152. Under this clause the Minister of Immigration can deport anyone he or she deems “constitutes a threat or risk to security,”. This parallels a provision in the old Act that was used to deport overnight Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, an innocent man who had been living freely in Saudi Arabia, but after being unjustly deported back to Saudi Arabia from so-called liberal New Zealand, he was thrown in jail for a period by the Saudi Arabian authorities. The deportation from New Zealand occurred without any due process or transparency whatsoever. An earlier speaker talked about the lobbying and support for individuals by interest groups, and this is why they exist. The law is insufficiently robust to stop such cases from happening. These cases are real and they are recent in our history.
The Green Party is also disturbed that we have not corrected a fault in the old immigration legislation, such that the new legislation will prevent the Human Rights
Commission under the Human Rights Act from bringing any proceedings on immigration matters or being party to any proceedings. This is wrong. It is not necessary to restrict the Human Rights Commission in this way. The Green Party is also concerned about the extended detention powers in the bill. No good reasons were advanced for allowing the initial period of detention without warrant, such as for asylum seekers arriving at our airports, to be extended from 72 hours to 96 hours. Asylum seekers have suffered enough in their home countries already. The new detention powers for those awaiting deportation, under clauses 271 and 289, are marked with denial of habeas corpus. Firstly, clause 271 denies bail to such people, and then clause 289 denies a judge the right to determine that “the period of time that a person has already been detained” is an exceptional circumstance justifying his or her release from detention. This clause comes out of the controversy over the imprisonment of several Iranian Christian converts from Islam, for up to 4 years, after they refused to sign Iranian Government documents enabling them to be deported to Iran where, they rightly thought, they might be persecuted. The Iran Parliament has passed the initial stage of a law allowing for the death sentence for people such as them who convert from Islam.
The Government’s tough line towards asylum seekers is not justified on either a moral or a practical basis. Aotearoa New Zealand now gets only a tiny number of asylum seekers arriving at the border, partly because it does not get any boat people, and also because asylum seekers whose papers are not in order find it very difficult to get on a New Zealand - bound plane because of tightened advance passenger processing arrangements. In fact, these arrangements can offend the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, whereby airlines that allow asylum seekers on board should not be penalised as they are under clause 89 of the bill.
Another problem in relation to refugees is that the new Immigration and Protection Tribunal, which incorporates the work of the old Refugee Status Appeals Authority, is not required to have members specialising in refugee law. Unfortunately, Parliament did not accept the amendment that Keith Locke moved, which was that at least one of the tribunal members should have “extensive experience in refugee law”. The bill also allows much more intrusion into our bodily spaces.
HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau)
: Tēnā koe. Ki ora tātou katoa e te Whare.
Hon Paula Bennett: We haven’t heard from you for ages!
HONE HARAWIRA: I say tēnā koe to Paula Bennett. Yesterday I got back home after being away for 3 weeks as part of a delegation to the assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva. While we were there we visited the European Parliament in Brussels, where we met with MPs and officials to see how they got 27 different countries to work together on issues as diverse as the global financial crisis, trade, immigration, and multiculturalism. We also visited the World War I battlefields in Flanders, laid wreaths to fallen New Zealand soldiers, and took part in the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate on the outskirts of Ypres. Visiting memorials dedicated to hundreds of thousands of soldiers who gave their lives for a war that many of them did not understand brought home to me the importance of our own country’s commitment to human rights overseas.
This brings me to the bill before us today, the Immigration Bill, and the importance of having a strong, positive, and fair immigration system in Aotearoa. Apirana Ngata said that Māori participation in the First World War was our price of citizenship. That was the price we paid to be part of shaping this nation. The price went through the roof with the commitment of the Māori Battalion in World War II. The Māori casualty rate
was 50 percent higher than that of every other New Zealand infantry battalion. More Māori died per head of population than any other people in the Allied forces.
I raise these matters because I want this House to be reminded of the price we have paid for our citizenship and the right we have as tangata whenua to sit at the decision-making table as Treaty partners, and not as tenants nor as a minority. Our own Declaration of Independence, which we celebrated yesterday, and the Treaty of Waitangi serve as this nation’s very first immigration charters. Indeed, Dr Ranginui Walker described the Treaty as the source of all migration to Aotearoa from Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It was the guarantee of a developing social contract. It was a partnership of the two cultures, with, at its very core, the expectation that Māori, as a Treaty partner, would be consulted on every aspect concerning people who want to come here.
Yet this bill is more about managing immigration and balancing the rights of the individual than it is about serving the national interest by having all new citizens complete a course in the history of Aotearoa and the Pacific as part of their price of citizenship. That is exactly what Māori told the last Government it should do, during a consultation hui in 2001 on immigration policy. The last Government ignored that call, and it would seem the current Government is also ignoring it. But the Māori Party takes the view that contracts are to be honoured in the deed rather than in the breach, and suggests that an understanding of the Treaty is a critical component of immigration policy.
The Māori Party’s confidence and supply agreement with National states: “Both the National Party and the Maori Party will act in accordance with te Tiriti o Waitangi,” yet the Government has decided unilaterally that the Treaty is not relevant to immigration policy. So I introduced Supplementary Order Paper 18 to give Māori a right to participate in immigration management consistent with the rights guaranteed to Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi. It is no big deal, really. In fact, it was very similar to other Supplementary Order Papers we have put up on other legislation. Unfortunately, however, it suffered a very similar fate to those other Supplementary Order Papers: it was voted down by every party in the Committee except us and the Greens. Again, I thank the Greens for their continued support of Treaty issues.
The Māori Party also has grave concerns about significant human rights issues in the bill, such as the possible abuse of private information, the prolonged detention of asylum seekers, the lack of protection of the rights of children born in Aotearoa without citizenship, and the refusal to allow the Human Rights Commission to have jurisdiction over immigration matters. For those reasons, and for many others, the Māori Party will be opposing this bill. Tēnā koe.
Hon TAU HENARE (National)
: What my cousin, colleague, and friend Hone Harawira failed to mention in the beginning of his speech was his 4 days in Hawaii.
Hon Paula Bennett: Aloha!
Hon TAU HENARE: Aloha. The Immigration Bill takes all of the legislation that we had in the past, with its mistakes, its good things, and its bad things, and tries to come up with a new foundation for New Zealand’s immigration system. Essentially, to me, the foundation for New Zealand’s immigration system is the management of incoming new New Zealanders, whether they are here to visit and might feel that they would like to become part of the country, whether they are here in transit, or whether they are looking for a new start because of whatever has happened in their home nations. This legislation is flexible, enduring, and it makes our immigration laws and system very, very strong. It is not only about the nuts and bolts—the passenger processing, the universal visa system, one independent appeals tribunal, a tiered
detention and monitoring system—but also where we go in the future, and about who controls—and how they control—those who want to be part of our system.
I hear what the Greens and the Māori Party have said, and some of that strikes a chord when we talk about nationalism or allowing people the right to come into our country. On the other hand, when we talk about people coming into the country we have to be certain about a number of things, especially in the times we live in today. Back in 1900 there were not too many things wrong with immigrants when they were looking for a new start, but now we have a lot of security issues around the world that people need to be aware of. I think new technology such as the new biometric tools that are available is a wonderful thing and will be a very handy tool, not only for this country but also for other countries, as well, when they come online. I also think there are other issues at stake, and one is how we find out whether a person who wants to get into the country is sound and has a nice character. We can do that only by seeking out information.
Those who say that this law is an abuse of human rights are far, far wide of the mark. I say that because most of the countries that people who want to get in here come from have fewer human rights than we do. We have a duty to treat those people nicely and in a kind and humane way, but we also have a duty to every other person who lives in the country to make sure that our visitors, whether they are in transit, on holiday, or want a new start, are the right sorts of people. I know that can sound a wee bit funny sometimes, but I think members know what I mean.
I want to make a brief comment about what the Hon Clayton Cosgrove said about some parties that are no longer here, namely the party that I used to belong to. I am glad that party is not here, and that it is not here in this debate, because it made its name on getting stuck into immigrants and blaming them for every problem that arose in this country. We may have our problems—
Hon Maurice Williamson: And did it with a pommy accent!
Hon TAU HENARE: Yes, that party did it with a—no, I will not say that. The fact of the matter is that every nation in the world has to have a strong, vigorous, and vibrant immigration system. If it does not, it opens the door to all the security risks and naughty and bad people in the world. I am glad that we have had and continue to have a very safe system in this country.
My last point is that I congratulate all the people who have come to this nation and chosen our nation to be their nation. It not only builds the economic capacity of our country, but it also builds the social capacity of this country. We have problems, but, hey, we do not throw bombs at each other and we do not kill each other in the way that people do in other nations. I am proud that this legislation is the foundation of what should be, and what I think will be, a very, very strong, enduring, and flexible immigration policy.
DARIEN FENTON (Labour)
: It is a privilege to take a call on the third reading of the Immigration Bill. I acknowledge all of the work that has been done on this bill over many, many years. As a member of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee that considered this bill, I know that it was a marathon job. It was a marathon job before the select committee received it, with work from previous Labour Ministers of Immigration, it was a marathon job for the officials and advisers, and it was a marathon job for the Hon Mark Gosche, who very ably chaired the committee and steered the process through. I acknowledge all of the people who have been involved in putting this bill together, and in getting it to the point it has reached. I know that the select committee was very demanding of advisers and officials because there were some concerns, and I will talk about those a little bit; we had to deal with some pretty challenging issues
As my colleagues have said, Labour supports this bill, but I think that in its third reading it is incumbent on all of us to remember that those on the receiving end of this law are real human beings. We are talking about people here, and we must bear in mind that this legislation affects people’s lives. Decisions from this bill affect everyone: they affect the lives of families, of children, of workers, of travellers, of refugees, and of those who seek to make new lives in New Zealand. We need to bear that in mind, but I also agree that New Zealand must have the right to protect its borders, and to decide who can live and work here.
Having said that, I also say that we have to ensure our reputation as a country. We have a reputation for treating people fairly, humanely, and compassionately, and I want to ensure that that reputation is retained, and that we do not get carried away in this bill, and in other measures like it, with punitive measures because of the fear of terrorists and others. As the Hon Tau Henare said, we live in a pretty peaceful country, and we are far away from many other—
Hon Chris Carter: Even in west Auckland!
DARIEN FENTON: Even west Auckland is pretty peaceful; that is right. Other people have observed, as well, that New Zealand has been built on migration from other countries—from the first peoples of our land to our most recent migrants.
Some of the issues the select committee considered were pretty difficult, and I acknowledge the Greens and the Māori Party, as well, and the work of Keith Locke, who was involved in the committee. There were issues around detention, classified information, and the refugee protection system, which are not easy things to deal with. There were many times during the process in the select committee that I felt uncomfortable; we heard some awful things. There was strong opposition to some things in this bill, and some people are still unhappy about them—there is no doubt about that. But I assure the Greens and the Māori Party that we worked really hard in the select committee to try to address submitters’ concerns. Again, I say it was the able chairpersonship of Mark Gosche that got us through a lot of the issues that we, and I think the Greens, felt concerned about. Because of that work, on balance, the resulting bill does the job of both protecting our borders and treating people humanely.
It is interesting that about 2.5 million people a year cross New Zealand’s borders—our little country has 2.5 million people crossing our borders. That is because people are moving around the world at an unprecedented rate as tourists, students, workers, or permanent migrants, and that provides many challenges but also opportunities for New Zealand. There are about half a million applications to come to New Zealand each year—about 500,000—and that is why this bill is necessary. It is necessary to modernise the legislation so that we have the tools to manage that sort of increase, to manage that large number of people who want to come and live here.
Labour introduced this bill and we worked hard on it. We worked hard on it with other parties, as well, because we recognised the realities of the global labour market and the risks in the modern security environment. We should not overstate those risks but they are there, and we needed to adapt the immigration system to ensure the best outcomes for our country.
If we go back to the 1987 Immigration Act, we find that it has been amended numerous times. Such amendments have included changes to the removal regime for people unlawfully in New Zealand, and the strengthening of provisions to prevent people-smuggling and trafficking. Major changes took place in 1999 with the introduction of New Zealand’s now highly regarded refugee status determination process. At that time Part 4A, which enabled the use of classified security information, was also introduced. Further changes took place in 2003 with the introduction of the expression of interest approach to the selection of skilled migrants. Although all the
amendments to the 1987 Act have led to improvements in the way that the immigration system works, they have been incremental and have resulted in increasingly complex legislation.
The review of the Act that led to this bill sought to address the problems of increasing complexity, by making sure that the legislation was as transparent as possible and was also future-proofed. New Zealand has to stay in the race with modern immigration legislation that allows us to build a modern society, but also to protect our borders from people who may be a risk. As I said earlier, I think the bill provides the right balance between allowing us to choose the migrants we want and need, protecting our national interests, meeting our international obligations, and ensuring that we protect our borders. So this bill will support the immigration system now and into the future, to enable firm, fast, and fair decision-making.
I have noted that people have taken the opportunity in the third reading to make comments about the future of our country. There have been some very “interesting”—I will not use any other word—observations. I note in particular David Bennett’s comments about encouraging migrants. I think that if we want to encourage migrants to come to this country to live and work, we have to do better than we have been doing in the last couple of months. In previous debates I have brought up this issue, and I intend to do so again as it is my last opportunity.
I am talking about the 30 or 40 migrant lines engineers who actually live in Minister Coleman’s own electorate, and who were encouraged to come here to work as lines engineers when we needed their skills. Now they have been left high and dry, because a new contractor called Visionstream came in and decided to change their employment arrangements from being employees to being owner-operators. But because the migrants were on work permits, they could not change over. Those workers have been laid off with no redundancy pay and nothing to tide them over. They cannot continue on as employees, as I have said, but they have nothing to help them get home; they are not entitled to any welfare benefits. But they are being supported financially by their union. Do members know how that is happening? The public have been making donations to help support them. So those workers are being supported by their union, but that support is limited and it will come to an end. They are not legally able to work anywhere else, or outside the telecommunications industry. But the sad fact is that they were encouraged to come to New Zealand. They were told that this was a wonderful place and that we needed their skills. Now, they have been left high and dry; they will have to go home. I say that we have to do better with employers who want to bring skilled migrants to New Zealand—
Carol Beaumont: They’re people, not commodities.
DARIEN FENTON: —that is dead right—then dump them on the scrap heap and say: “Well, sorry; off you go—go home.” If we want skilled migrants to come here to live and work, we have to do better. I hope we have an ongoing conversation about this particular matter, because it is a conversation that needs to take place. Thank you.
ALLAN PEACHEY (National—Tāmaki)
: The purpose or primary objectives of the Immigration Bill have been well outlined by the Minister of Immigration, who spoke earlier, and by other members.
I will make a couple of general comments. The first is that if one reads the history of New Zealand, one finds that immigration goes to the very heart of what this country is all about. I have heard suggestions during the parliamentary process dealing with this bill that somehow immigration has suddenly become significant to the social fabric of our country and to its economic well-being. In actual fact, it has always been significant, and we should not lose sight of that. We should not lose sight of the fact that
as New Zealand has grown and developed, so much of that growth and development has been based on migration and on immigration.
It is important that we have legislation that is modern and appropriate to the 21st century, and that it is enduring. Probably the most satisfying aspect of this debate has been the bipartisan approach that both major parties have shown. Immigration should not be a political football. It should not be a way in which politicians score cheap points at the expense of easily identified groups. It is good that the House is currently rid of that sort of thing.
I acknowledge the work done by immigration Ministers in two Governments, and by members on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee over two Governments. I have been particularly interested to pick up on the acknowledgments given to our previous colleague on the committee, Mark Gosche. I was not on the committee when he chaired it, and I am beginning to think maybe that was to my disadvantage. But I certainly knew Mr Gosche as a very, very fine electorate MP in the electorate neighbouring my own constituency of Tāmaki, and I know that he was well-thought-of as a very hard-working and diligent member. He certainly set some standards that I felt obliged to maintain in the neighbouring electorate.
I also acknowledge the hard work done by officials over a long period of time. This legislation has been a bit of a marathon but it was absolutely vital that we get it right, because, as I said, immigration and migration go right to the heart of what New Zealand is as a country. Thank you.
CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour)
: I rise to speak in support of the third reading of the Immigration Bill, and I acknowledge the fact that this is a very comprehensive rewrite of what is quite complicated legislation and a complex area of policy. One of the things I am aware of is the extensive consultation process that has been undertaken, over a period of some years. I think the bill probably reflects what we would hope is best practice, if you like, in the development of legislation. The history is that in April 2006 the previous Labour Government published a discussion document on a review of immigration. Submissions were called for, and key options for change were considered as part of that review. Officials travelled the country and talked to people about those options, and I understand that over 650 people attended meetings. Almost 4,000 submissions were received, as part of that process, from migrant organisations, community organisations, unions, employers, and national and key international human rights organisations. That is quite amazing, because that process then helped to contribute to the bill, which then went through the select committee process.
The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee received 90 submissions from interested groups and individuals, and heard 61 submissions. That included hearing submissions in Auckland. As others have done, I would put on record the work of Vui Mark Gosche in relation to this bill. This is not an easy area of work. There are many competing demands in immigration: making sure that national interests and security interests are balanced up against the interests of those who come to this country, and making sure that the rights of those people are protected. It is never easy to get that balance right. I know, as somebody who made a submission on the bill—I was not in Parliament at the time—that there were many complex matters to look at.
The bill is framework legislation, and that is quite deliberately the case in order to enable it to capture core concepts and processes, without being unduly weighed down with particularities that may quickly become outdated. I want to talk a little more about the purpose of the bill and some of the key elements. The objective is to establish a stronger, more flexible, and enduring foundation for New Zealand’s immigration system, and to manage immigration in a fair and balanced way. Changes have been made to include a new visa system, the ability to use classified information,
international protections, a single appeals tribunal, a more transparent deportation system, flexible compliance and enforcement powers, and so on.
The bill, as I have mentioned, was introduced by the previous Labour Government, and it is now going through the House under a National Government. There was a great deal of cooperation, I think, to get to the point we are at now. It is the biggest rewrite of immigration law for over two decades, and it will replace the Immigration Act 1987. The previous Government introduced this bill because it recognised the realities of the global labour market and also the risks in the modern security environment, and it was trying to balance those interests. It is clear to all of us in this House, I am sure, that people are moving around the world at unprecedented levels, as tourists, students, workers, and permanent migrants. That provides challenges and opportunities.
New Zealand is a country of migrants, as many members have already reflected on. We are a stronger country because of the successive waves of people that have come here. One thing that I think is particularly interesting about New Zealand, in terms of immigration, is that one in four of the people who are working in this country were born somewhere else, and one in six of the people who were born here are working somewhere else. That is actually a very interesting thing, because it means—and this is different from the situation in a number of other countries—that New Zealand is both a country of origin for migrants and a country of destination for migrants. Both elements are substantial for us. I am also sure that the members of this House would all recognise the importance and value of immigration for our country. Migrants coming to New Zealand bring their skills, they bring their links back to their home country, they bring investment, and they bring cultural diversity. They strengthen our country. I have always found it of real concern to hear people whip up anti-migrant sentiment. They somehow imply that New Zealand is doing migrants a favour by letting them come and live here. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Any objective analysis of the balance will show that in fact the balance is to the benefit of this country, for all of the reasons that I have just given.
I think it is worth putting it on the record, as part of this discussion, that the reason that many people migrate is to have a better quality of life, or to find more opportunity—a better opportunity for themselves and their families. One of the real factors behind migration around the world is poverty, or the desire of people to try to gain a better standard of living. It concerns me that already this Government, in relation to the issue of poverty, has changed the focus of NZAID away from poverty elimination. I wonder about the implications of that for migration—
Darien Fenton: And what that message sends to other countries.
CAROL BEAUMONT: Yes, what my colleague says is right.
We have to stay in the race in order to attract people to come to our country. We need to have a modern immigration system, but we need also to protect our borders from those who could potentially threaten us. We need to strike the right balance between allowing us to choose the people whom we want and need to protect our national interests, and ensuring that we can protect our borders and successfully fulfil our international obligations. New Zealand has a reputation as a country that honours international agreements; it actually supports the work of multilateral agencies and abides by the guidelines and best practice in this area. Certainly, in the area of migration a lot of work is currently going on regarding the sorts of frameworks that we should have, and from my previous experience I know that the best practice is to have a rights-based framework. It is about making sure that the people who are moving around the world are treated with respect and that they do have rights.
Each year in this country 2.5 million people cross our borders. One of the reasons why we have quite robust immigration and actively seek out migrants is to provide
skills, as I have previously mentioned. I place it on the record that I think that it will be necessary to continue to seek out migrants, perhaps at even greater levels, because we are failing in the skills area. The current Government is failing to address our country’s skills need. At a time of economic recession, when it could really invest in people and really generate a much more knowledgeable and well-skilled population, what is going on? The answer is nothing. The truly shocking aspect of our Budget this year was that there were no new initiatives in the skills area, and that much of the very, very good work that had been done by the previous Government, in terms of developing the Skills Strategy and looking at some very comprehensive programmes like Schools Plus, has been completely ignored.
I have yet to see anything come out of the Government to try to address skills and to invest in our own people in this country, to ensure that we have the skills we need. We have major skills deficits; there is no doubt about that. We have skills deficits in many technical areas. So the Government could have really taken the opportunity, when people have been struggling, when people have been made unemployed—thousands and thousands of people have become unemployed—to put a lot of money into providing them with positive hope for their futures and doing something that would be good for our economy.
MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National)
: I will take just a short call in support of the Immigration Bill. It has been discussed at length not only today but also on previous days, and I do not want to unduly delay the passage into law of this very important piece of legislation. But I add my congratulations to all those who have been involved in what has been a quite long gestation—several years—in getting the bill into its form and now into law, and those people have all been named.
What I do want to do is to add a message of best wishes to the staff of the Immigration Service, the New Zealand Customs Service, the new Immigration and Protection Tribunal, and the very many other departments that will be involved in the implementation of this Act.
There are some very challenging aspects to the new law, particularly in relation to the streamlining of the immigration processes. There are things like simplified passenger travel between Australia and New Zealand, and the bill allows for that to go further afield in the future; the collection of biometric information; and the information-matching and information-sharing processes that the Act will allow. There are many other initiatives that are very beneficial, and how successful the law will be will in large part relate to the ability of those departments to deliver on the technologies and processes in an efficient and timely manner.
The last couple of years have been a challenging time for Immigration New Zealand, and I am sure we all want to wish it to be strong and confident in the discharge of its responsibilities under the law that is about to be passed. It may even be the case that those challenges energise it and refocus it. I wish the immigration officials very well in that regard. I commend the bill to the House.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Immigration Bill be now read a third time.
||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 43; ACT New Zealand 5; Progressive 1; United Future 1.
||Green Party 8; Māori Party 4.
|Bill read a third time.