Hansard and Journals
Voting — Correction; Citizenship Amendment Bill (No 2), Passports Amendment Bill (No 2) — Third Readings
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): Before I call the Minister on the third readings, I want to say that on the second reading of the bill there was an error in the addition of the vote. The Ayes are 104 and the Noes are 10. Originally the Ayes were given as 94. So the corrected vote is Ayes 104, Noes 10.
Citizenship Amendment Bill (No 2)
Passports Amendment Bill (No 2)
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs) : I move, That the Citizenship Amendment Bill (No 2) and the Passports Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a third time. This legislation rectifies problems with New Zealand citizenship, will improve border security, and will reduce the likelihood of successful forgery of travel documents.
The amendments to the requirements for the grant of citizenship, including increasing the residence period from 3 to 5 years, will provide a sufficient basis for assessment of applicants’ suitability for citizenship and their commitment to New Zealand. Transitional provisions mean that people who came to New Zealand as permanent residents expecting a 3-year residence period for citizenship will not be disadvantaged by the changes. They will be assessed against the current 3-year requirement instead of the new 5-year requirement.
The amendments to the Passports Act will improve border security by providing for disclosure of information about New Zealand travel documents for use in a passenger risk management system known as Advance Passenger Processing. In addition, by reducing the maximum validity of passports from 10 years to 5 years, the legislation ensures that we can stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters.
PANSY WONG (National) : National has taken a very responsible stance on this legislation. We have supported provisions that will safeguard New Zealand’s visa-free travel status, and agreed to provisions that grant the Minister of Internal Affairs the power to withhold travel documents on the grounds of risk to national security. I believe that the case was put very forcefully and intellectually by my learned colleague Dr Wayne Mapp.
Contrary to the statements made by the Green member and by half the Progressive caucus, unfortunately there are individuals who come to New Zealand to give birth, so that the adults can eventually be entitled to obtain New Zealand residence because of the citizenship status that at present we accord automatically to babies born here. National supports the tightening of that provision, because individuals should apply to become New Zealand residents through our immigration policy, and should not take advantage of their babies as a means to achieve that end.
As far as the changes to the qualifying period for citizenship, which is extended from 3 years to 5 years, are concerned, I am sad that some debaters simply do not understand the difference between the citizenship policy and the immigration policy. It is too late and ineffectual for the Labour Government to try to increase the barrier to citizenship for people who have already been admitted to become New Zealand residents after they got through under the immigration policy. The fact is that in New Zealand the difference of entitlement between permanent residence and New Zealand citizenship is very little. Therefore, members need to be honest; tonight we are looking at a citizenship policy for people who have already been assessed under our immigration policy. It is not a matter of mixing up the debate between migrants and New Zealand citizens.
I am extremely disappointed that the Labour Government does not see fit to support my amendments, and I predict that that will come back to haunt it in the future. My No. 1 amendment is to introduce classes for new migrants to learn New Zealand values and systems, to better equip them to integrate into New Zealand society. I am very surprised that New Zealand First members, after all their statements about people not integrating into the community, are not supporting this move.
My other amendment raises the issue of whether we really value our export education sector. If international students come here, spend about 5 years to get their qualifications, then want to stay in New Zealand, we are now asking them to spend up to a total of 11 years here before we welcome them to be our citizens. My amendment asks for at least half of the time they spend here on temporary permits to be counted towards their qualifying period for citizenship.
We also have a group of temporary permit holders who are known as long-term business visa holders. They are people who have already come here and invested in business, with the sole purpose of converting to permanent residents after 2 years. I think the Government is very mean to deny them that, by not agreeing that the exemption should apply to them.
I finish off by telling members and the public of a conversation I had last year when I went over to Australia and discussed this issue with the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. I told the Minister that New Zealand was tightening up on the qualifying period for residents to become citizens, and asked him whether Australia would retain its 2-year requirement. He looked at me in surprise and said: “Well, when people come to Australia, having been accepted as residents, we can’t wait for them to become Australian citizens. If they want to become Australian citizens, we welcome them with open arms.” We do not always see eye to eye with Australia, and I always like to beat the Aussies in whatever field, but in this instance I cannot help but ask the Labour Government to take a leaf from their book; to learn from the generosity and welcoming attitude of an Australian Minister, whose country is also proud of the fact that its foundation was built by migrants from all over the world. I think that New Zealand, in this instance, has not been well served by the Labour Government.
Hon MATT ROBSON (Deputy Leader—Progressive) : It is no surprise now that the Progressive Party has two positions on this legislation. At our national executive we discussed this legislation, and after a very lengthy discussion on all the issues we considered important, it was agreed that the two members of Parliament could vote in different ways. But although we differ in our vote on this debate and although there has been debate within the growing membership of the Progressives on what position to take, we agree that we want migrants to continue to be welcomed by all New Zealanders as they are in the process of becoming New Zealanders themselves. We agree that we want immigration to continue, with the emphasis on skilled and trained future citizens. We agree on our Progressive policy of supporting active measures to welcome migrants in order to minimise social and political division, and of assisting with settlement and integration. And we agree that New Zealand must protect all its people from bigotry and racism.
My fear has been that this legislation sends two distinct messages to those who have migrated to New Zealand. The citizenship provisions state to all migrants that we do not trust them, so 2 more years will be added to their probationary period for citizenship, even despite the fact that they have passed a rigorous test to enter New Zealand in the first place. The provisions also set up two types of immigrants: those with the favoured First World passports, and those who are from countries that have restricted travel rights throughout the world. That causes division within New Zealand—an unnecessary division.
In the passport provisions, this legislation states to every New Zealander that he or she can be deprived of the right to travel, even though he or she has not been charged or convicted of any crime in open court. The use of a person’s passport will no longer be an automatic democratic right if the provision that was in clause 27 of the original Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill is passed. That democratic right was previously transgressed only if a person was convicted of a crime or was before the court on a criminal charge. If the Security Intelligence Service or the police believe a person is a threat to New Zealand’s international or economic well-being, then by administrative action through the Minister of Internal Affairs, that person’s passport or travel documents will be withdrawn. I ask the union movement of New Zealand to take note of that, because it has usually been in the forefront of the defence of democratic rights, as union members are often the target of reactionary measures.
I would call that clause the “Ahmed Zaoui clause”, because surely we should have learnt from the debacle in that case that if we take away democratic rights in the case of one person, then we are likely to use that power in the case of another person, irrespective of our understanding of the particular issue or of the person so held in a detention centre. I am sure that many New Zealanders who are appalled at the lack of natural justice through the misuse of classified information—on the grounds of national security—to deny Ahmed Zaoui fair treatment will call this provision in this legislation the “Ahmed Zaoui clause”. It introduces a dangerous, anti-democratic practice into New Zealand. Citizens will be punished not for what is proven against them by the State in open court, with the protection of being innocent until proven guilty and with all rights of natural justice preserved, but through an administrative procedure where they must prove their innocence. If members take the time to refer to the legislation, they will see that the allegations for which a passport can be withdrawn are very serious: terrorist activity, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and activities that are destructive to the whole New Zealand economy. Yet despite that, only the person’s passport is to be taken, and the person who is so dangerous is not even charged under this particular law.
The category of classified security information under this legislation will now extend to information held by the police—not just by the Security Intelligence Service but by the police. It is no wonder that the responsible Ministers did not consult any community groups, or any groups that would normally be consulted on legislation like this. When the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils, representing hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, came before the Government Administration Committee, its representatives said that they had not been consulted on the drafting of this legislation. What was the Minister for Ethnic Affairs doing with regard to this legislation, which actually affects people whom he is charged with representing? What was the Minister of Immigration doing, by not looking at the many migrant associations in New Zealand and asking how this legislation would affect their members? What was the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs doing, by not consulting the Pacific community on the many measures that will affect it in this legislation? Those Ministers did not do their job as Ministers on this legislation, and they did not do their job as representatives of a Labour movement that has fought for the maintenance and extension of democratic rights. That is a tragedy for the New Zealand labour movement.
If in one move we attack the rule of law, and throw aside the provision in article 13 of the United Nations declaration on human rights, and in section 18 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, which guarantee the right to leave and return to one’s own country, what other measures can we then say we will take because we have set that dangerous precedent? And in relation to the people who come to New Zealand and who are often welcomed in great ceremonies—many members of Parliament go to the events they hold and want their votes—I ask why we are putting further hurdles in their way, after they have already surmounted the costly barriers in place to come to New Zealand? It is time to draw a line against measures that deliver collective punishments against all migrants here, and against measures that misuse the concern about terrorism to introduce a power to the Security Intelligence Service and the police that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law, and the right to natural justice.
It is with sadness that I have to vote against this legislation put forward by Labour Party colleagues. I make it clear, of course, that I am 100 percent in support of any measures taken by a democratic society like our own in defensive action against any potential physical threat to any of its citizens. But I think we have, perhaps, an unconscious irony here. Many of the migrants who have come to New Zealand have come here because it is a democratic country. They wanted to leave countries where this type of practice is normal, and where every police officer has more power in his or her—usually his—little finger than the Prime Minister of New Zealand. And now those migrants have measures in place that must remind them of the measures that are commonplace in the repressive societies they have left.
There was an issue recently of foreign nationals who tried to get hold of New Zealand passports—the Israeli spies. They were caught. The current law caught them. The current law provides for prison sentences for people who give false testimony, such as signing testimonials claiming that person X is who that person says he or she is, when applying to renew a passport. I note that a New Zealand national—a doctor—did sign a form stating that the New Zealand national knew person X, when the New Zealand national did not know that person. But we have laws to stop that type of passport fraud. Our laws are strong—and so they should be—but they also contain the guarantees that justice will be done and that a person so charged by the State will have all rights afforded to him or her. We have strong national homeland security laws now, but we are undermining those with an anti-democratic set of procedures.
New Zealand is the furthest away nation in the world from the major markets, so it is already competing at a disadvantage, caused by its distance from those markets, in the global competition to attract skilled new settlers to our shores. This legislation, which does not practically add to or subtract from our security, does have one effect: it will put New Zealand at a further, unnecessary disadvantage in the competition to attract skilled people to our shores. In my opinion, the bill simply states to potential skilled immigrants that 2 more years will be added to their probationary period for citizenship. It will place unnecessary hurdles in the path of those who would consider New Zealand as their potential home. In order to be granted the right of residence in New Zealand at the moment, all applicants undergo rigorous, thorough, and lengthy checks. It is expensive. They have to prove they are of good character and prove their medical fitness, and they have to fit the particular category under which they have applied. It is not easy; New Zealand is not a soft touch. The process is not quick, yet we are putting in place further unnecessary hurdles.
This law states to me that New Zealand is saying to potential immigrants that yes, they have spent many years in overcoming the hurdles, but under the provision in clause 8 of the original Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill we will add another 2 years before they can call themselves Kiwis. What on earth will be found out about a resident in 5 years—which becomes 6 years while the resident is waiting for a decision on the application—that was not available in 3 years, or, in many cases, more than 3 years in the case of a person who was in New Zealand before that person was even granted residence? Does membership of al-Qaeda surface only in the fourth year of a person’s residence?
I ask the House, even at this last hour, to consider voting against this legislation.
CRAIG McNAIR (NZ First) : I do not intend to take my full 10 minutes on this call, but I want to say a few words in closing as we members of the House speak in the third reading. I believe that this legislation is a victory for New Zealand First tonight.
Pansy Wong: Ha, ha!
CRAIG McNAIR: The National member laughs, but I remember her leaning over to me at the Government Administration Committee and saying: “They are putting this in because of you guys.” So this legislation is a victory for New Zealand First.
Our party has put pressure on the Labour Government since it came into power in 1999, and the Government has been very reluctant on this issue. It has been split by it, but New Zealand First has won out. In our 2002 campaign we said that we would fix immigration, and we have come a long way towards fixing it by putting pressure on the Government in respect of this legislation and of the issues that arise from it.
For example, the legislation increases the period of residence in New Zealand that applicants for New Zealand citizenship must meet, from 3 years to 5 years, and applicants will need to have been in the country for approximately three-quarters of the 5-year period before application, including 8 months of each year in that period. As I said, that is a big victory for New Zealand First.
We are proud to be supporting policies that support all New Zealanders and that are in the best interests of all New Zealanders. As New Zealand First has always said, our motto is “We support good legislation and we oppose bad legislation.” Overall, this legislation is what we believe to be good legislation. It is one step in the right direction. There are a few things that could be improved on but, overall, this is legislation that New Zealand First takes credit for.
There is another issue I want to bring up, which I did not really get to focus on too much at the Committee stage. I was going to say it concerned the Supplementary Order Paper, but those amendments have now been included in the legislation under the citizenship by birth provisions, so that a child born in New Zealand on or after 1 January 2006 will be a New Zealand citizen only if at least one of his or her parents is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
I believe that members opposing this legislation, especially on that issue, were trivialising the fact that the issue is a problem. When there are articles overseas, such as in The Times news network, entitled “Baby, you can be born abroad” and stating: “Pregnant? Pack your bags and head abroad to the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Such is the value of foreign citizenship that a whole lot of young parents to be are putting much thought and planning into making sure their child is born abroad and, therefore, becomes a citizen of whichever country he or she is born in.” When advertisements like that are being placed around the world, I believe that it is not only a requirement but also an obligation of Governments to be able to address such issues.
It is a fact that, on average, about 600 non-residents have their children in New Zealand per year, at the moment. New Zealand First is not saying to those people who have their children in New Zealand that they are not to do that. It is fine if they still want to do that, but the fact is that this legislation will eliminate the problem of people seeing advertisements or articles in overseas newspapers and coming to New Zealand for that specific reason. Obviously, we are not stopping overseas people from having children in New Zealand; we are just making the rules tighter and fairer for all New Zealanders. So I wanted to address that issue.
I want to address one other issue before I close, and I go right back to the second reading when ACT member Stephen Franks said that this was unpatriotic legislation. Well, I believe that it is patriotic legislation, for many reasons, and one reason is a clause that provides for officers dealing with citizenship to have restricted access to immigration information for the purpose of conducting citizenship investigations and assessing whether applicants meet grant requirements. I believe that that provision strengthens the power of the New Zealand Government to stop people like Jim Peron coming into this country. We have to make sure that we keep out people like that, and protect all New Zealanders—especially young New Zealanders.
Overall, I believe that this is very patriotic legislation if we look at issues like the one I spoke about earlier, where applicants are required to take the oath or affirmation of allegiance to New Zealand at a public citizenship ceremony. I believe that that provision is something we should be proud to be passing, as a Parliament. I believe that New Zealand citizenship is something that is valuable, and that people who take on New Zealand citizenship should be required to do something like that and be proud of it. New Zealand First is proud to support this legislation, and we take a lot of credit for it.
KEITH LOCKE (Green) : The Green Party will be voting against this legislation because it discriminates against new migrants, it takes away the long-held right of babies born here to have automatic New Zealand citizenship, and it undermines the right of New Zealanders to have a passport. None of those changes were necessary and there was no call in the community for them. Submissions to the Government Administration Committee were overwhelmingly against the changes, yet the committee and the Government have simply charged ahead with them.
Let us look first at the provision that takes away the automatic right of citizenship for babies born here. There has long been that right, and it continues to exist in countries like Canada and the United States, so why bother to take it away? What harm does it do? Are there hoards of people coming here to have babies so that those babies have New Zealand citizenship? No evidence was put before the select committee that there were.
There may be possibly one or two such cases a year, but the tourist-visa parents of such babies have to go back to their home countries after their babies are born. If the occasional such baby growing up in Kentucky, or wherever, later wants to take up the right to be a citizen and live here, then so what? It would actually be a tribute to New Zealand.
Of course, several hundred babies are born to non-residents here each year. The parents are generally young people on work permits or student and business visas. Again, these babies will not stay in New Zealand unless their parents get residency. The key reason for giving these babies automatic citizenship is that they are then given State-provided health care—which is important, because their parents are often in poor circumstances and cannot afford to pay for adequate private care. Such a humanitarian approach accords with our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that we not have discriminatory practices that affect the well-being of children. It is just mean-spirited to deny citizenship to babies born here. As Progressive member Matt Robson and I say in our minority report from the select committee: “We believe that under this bill we will now have a new category of overstayer—the newborn baby.” Is that the sort of society we want in New Zealand in the 21st century?
The legislation also extends the time it takes for residents to get New Zealand citizenship without good reason. The original reason given in the explanatory note of the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill was that “the recent increase in international terrorism and people smuggling” necessitated changes “to ensure that there are no preventable risks to national security”. But, as was pointed out in the hearings on the bill, we can generally spot a terrorist during the present 3-year residency period for qualification for citizenship. Why do we need to extend the period to 5 years?
The only other argument put forward was that the change would make us comparable with other jurisdictions. However, the Government tripped up on that. Australia, the closest jurisdiction, gives citizenship to residents if they have spent 2 continuous years in that country. The clear point brought out by submitters, particularly those from business migrant groups in the Chinese community, was that if this legislation passes we will lose out on some of the most skilled migrants, because they can go to Australia and get citizenship, years earlier than they could here.
Paradoxically, by extending the time required for citizenship, the Government is demeaning its importance. There seemed to be an attitude that it did not really matter if citizenship took a bit longer, because the migrants were already here and functioning as part of society. But what we heard from the migrants was that they did not want to stay in “nowhere land” between their old and new nationalities for an extended period. They had made a commitment to New Zealand and were frustrated that they could not become full Kiwis for years and years.
They also pointed out the inconvenience of not having a New Zealand passport for such a long period while they are residing here. They pointed out that we are not just talking about the 5 years’ residency requirement, particularly now that the time spent on a temporary visa will not be counted as part of the time spent in New Zealand to qualify a person for citizenship. People can be here for a couple of years or more on a student, work, or business visa, then take a year applying for and getting residency, and then have a 5-year wait for citizenship. That means they could be waiting to get citizenship for anything up to 10 years after arriving in the country.
It is silly and inequitable, because surely someone beavering away here on a work permit is just as committed to New Zealand as someone who has been granted residency before arriving and may not even be working at all.
Other migrant representatives explained to the committee how if one comes from a poorer country one’s passport does not get one into many countries in the world, even for a visit. This is one of the reasons why extending the shorter period of time it takes for spouses of New Zealand citizens to go from residency to citizenship—at present 2 years—to 5 years will create difficulties for many couples. If one spouse is from Thailand or Bangladesh, effectively the couple will not be able to travel to much of the world together for 5 years. That spouse’s passport will not be of much use.
For refugees that is particularly difficult, because they do not usually have valid passports from their home countries. As some submitters explained, the travel documents that they are given by the New Zealand Government are not even valid for transit through Australia or the United States. That can create great heartache, because they are unable to visit their refugee family members, who are often dispersed throughout the world and often suffer from culture shock and trauma for many years.
Refugees also expressed concern about the national security clause in the legislation that will allow the Minister of Internal Affairs to refuse travel documents or passports without fully explaining why. Applicants can be knocked back on the basis of rumours they are not told about. The national security provision extends well beyond refugees. In fact, the Government will be able to use it against New Zealand citizens, possibly even on the basis of their politics, as happened back in the Cold War when the American Government confiscated the passport of pro-Communist singer Paul Robeson and the Australian Government did the same to left-wing journalist Wilfred Burchett.
The Greens have opposed such measures in the legislation, because they reverse the normal judicial process. Instead of being tried, convicted, and punished, people are punished when their passports are taken away, and then they have to go to the High Court to try to get them back. Even then, a person in that position might not be able to get fully at the accusations against him or her, because the Government’s information may be classified.
This security provision in the legislation is unnecessary, because a person who is actually conspiring to commit a crime against the New Zealand State can already be brought before the courts under existing criminal law, and judges can then confiscate the convicted person’s passport. Such provisions are part of a trend we have seen in much legislation since the Terrorism Suppression Act to put more power into the hands of politicians—who can obviously misuse that power for their own political ends—rather than leave to the courts the application of penalties flowing from criminal activities, as has traditionally been the case. This sort of thing is happening around the world in the name of George Bush’s so-called war on terrorism.
The context of these bills, and bills like them, was nicely summed up by Rodney Harrison QC in an address to University of Waikato law graduates in April last year. He said: “The powers being sought and so readily conferred by Parliament in the name of the ‘war on terrorism’ are quite frequently much broader than, and sometimes even unconnected with, any conceivable goal of fighting terrorism. They appear to stem from an unholy mix of Executive empire-building and appeasement of the United States.”
I think that that is happening here. While this legislation makes some positive administrative improvements in relation to citizenship and passports, the Greens will be voting against it, because of the civil liberties concerns we have outlined, which cause us to worry about its application to New Zealanders in the future.
STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) : For the ACT party, the debate on this legislation has been illuminating as we were not members of the Government Administration Committee, and were left with only the committee’s report and newspaper reports to try to piece together what was happening.
There are good bits in this legislation. We think it is not appropriate to leave open loopholes, things that bring a regime into disrepute, and things that encourage people to feel that a country is a soft touch. We support the arrangements for making sure that people do not assume that if they have babies here, they can automatically eventually shift their families here, thereby leapfrogging those who go through the normal criteria. It is correct to bring that to an end.
There are puzzles in the amendments to the Citizenship Act, though—puzzles that the Minister of Internal Affairs did not take an opportunity to clarify—that seem to imply that the Minister has much more limited discretion to refuse to admit people than we would have hoped. We have heard no real answer to our query as to why the two or three provisions that allow the Minister to grant citizenship to a person who does not qualify in terms of length of residence, or even to someone who has disqualifying convictions, do not appear to contemplate such a grant on the grounds that it looks as though the person will be an outstanding asset to this country. Instead, they focus on humanitarian grounds, on encouraging, it seems, people who will be burdens to come into this country, purely because wherever they are they will be burdens and they might as well be burdens here.
There is not any encouragement here of the idea that citizenship is something we should be actively holding out to the very best students we bring here, in the same way as the United States has made such good use of the human capital it draws from all over the world through its educational facilities. I see nothing inspiring in that part of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (No 2).
I find the amendments to the Passports Act even more troubling. I have to apologise to Keith Locke, who had an amendment at the foot of his pages of amendments that I wish I had cast the ACT votes for. He would have removed the provision that entitles the Minister simply to withdraw the passport of a New Zealand citizen and hold it. Although the tests may be suitably stiff, may be appropriate, when the provision is read together with the procedure that enables the Attorney-General to ensure that evidence presented to a court on appeal is kept secret and may not be properly challenged, I think it is an improper intrusion into the rights and liberties of New Zealand citizens.
On the other hand it is wrong, for the same reasons in reverse, that people who have no moral or other claim to New Zealand bounty are given the same kinds of protections against the refusal or withdrawal of travel documents as New Zealand citizens have. We have, for example, the very high threshold test that one has to be a seriously bad kind of terrorist supporter before the Minister is able to deny or withdraw one’s refugee travel permit or temporary travel document. That test should be as stringent as it is for citizens—stringent in the sense of being a high threshold to pass—but for people who come to this country who have, essentially, cast themselves on our humanitarian instincts, the Minister should be free to send them away whenever he or she considers that they present a suspicion of being undesirable. We think this part of the passports legislation is unfortunate.
We understand the reasons for trimming the term of a passport from 10 years to 5. We assume the select committee had enough evidence to satisfy itself that that was a cost-effective increase in passport security. The proposal will be irksome and expensive. We imagine that the Minister has been persuaded that there is enough net benefit in it to justify it. We have not seen the evidence, and we were inclined to vote against that part because of that, but in the end we decided that there are occasions when the most obvious questions have been asked by other parties that have been closely involved, and in this case they have been.
So we will vote for this legislation, with regret. I respect the position of the Hon Matt Robson in his impassioned speeches on this legislation tonight. I think he has stood for a principle that he patently believes in. They were some of the most lucid and, what is more interesting, some of the most fluid speeches I have heard him give. I think he is right to remind us how easy it is to give up freedoms and to allow people to set off down slippery slopes, which is what I think the provisions about New Zealanders’ passports do. I have ended up with the view that, on balance, the risk is not such as to cause us to join him, but I certainly think it was the right sort of thing to raise in Parliament, and I do not think he needed to apologise for detaining us tonight while he ensured that he placed on record his objections, and his support of Keith Locke’s objections on much the same reasons of principle.
MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) : I was not going to contribute at this point, because I thought I had made United Future’s position fairly clear earlier on in the debate. However, the speech made by Keith Locke for the Green Party somewhat disturbed me, because I cannot see how being born in New Zealand should necessarily entitle a person to be a New Zealand citizen. There is quite a distinction between the two.
Being born in a particular place does not automatically entitle a person to anything other than being a member of the family he or she is born into. I was born in Japan, in Kobe, and lived there for a long period of time. I was not entitled to a Japanese passport, and why should I have been? I do not look Japanese, I do not act Japanese, and I have nothing to do with Japanese culture, despite the fact that I was born in Japan and lived there for 9 years before I left. I do not understand why any foreigners can come to New Zealand and arrogantly assume that just because they drop a child in our country, that child automatically has certain rights and entitlements born totally and utterly out of the historicity of what New Zealand is all about. So there are differences.
Being a New Zealand citizen is a privilege we bestow on people who come here, if they are not already from New Zealand. It is a precious commodity we hold. We have the right to invite whom we wish, for whatever reason, into this family that we call New Zealand. To allow that right to be abused, or potentially abused, by people who just front up to sprog a kid is absolutely and utterly wrong. [Interruption] I do not think my comment is offensive at all.
Peter Brown: That’s the Japanese coming out in you.
MARC ALEXANDER: Obviously, it must be. We have the PC brigade who are obviously upset about everything.
The fact is that we give residents in this country a huge array of rights. They have, for example, the right to vote. They have a whole range of rights, but they do not have the right, necessarily, to be a citizen, unless we decide they ought to have that right. We should have the right to decide who comes here, and who comes here to live. It is our home and it is our right to decide whom we invite to be part of the New Zealand community. This is not arrogance. It is not an abuse of hospitality that we extend citizenship only to those people whom we wish. We are, ultimately, all here from somewhere else. We have chosen to make this country our home, and we are allowed to invite whom we choose.
As I said, this is not arrogance; there must be a sensible balance between the interests that we have in our own country, and the interests of those people whom we want to bring in to advance the causes of our country. United Future will be wholeheartedly supporting this bill.
DIANNE YATES (Labour—Hamilton East) : As chair of the Government Administration Committee, the committee that looked at this legislation, I want to thank the 225 persons who made written submissions. I also want to thank the 5,700 people who sent in form submissions, and the 40 people who submitted before the committee.
This legislation is about the integrity of New Zealand passports and New Zealand citizenship, and I want to place it on record that the committee did look long and hard at the issues involved, especially those people who came on to the committee for that purpose and because of their interests: the Hon Matt Robson, Peter Brown, Craig McNair, at times, and Keith Locke.
I also want to read out a short part of the report on the refusal to issue passports on the grounds of national security. The committee did look at that, and the report states: “Most of us, however, are satisfied that new section 4A, as inserted by clause 23,”—and other amendments—“will ensure that the Minister cannot deprive New Zealanders of their travel documentation on spurious grounds.” We considered that issue very carefully. We looked at the danger to the security of New Zealand, and the decision was not taken lightly.
PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) : I do not intend to take the full 10 minutes, but I just want to make a summary of New Zealand First’s views. In particular, I want to respond to some of the assertions made by the Hon Matt Robson. I know he was sincere; I felt it coming through in his body language. But he did attempt to send those who support the legislation on a bit of a guilt trip, and he did suggest that various caucuses had not analysed the bill—meaning to his satisfaction, probably. I say to the honourable member that New Zealand First has analysed this legislation. We are totally supportive of it. However, we do not think that the Government has got it totally correct. Our assessment is that it is about 85 percent correct.
We have concerns about the life of a passport, as we have indicated, and we suspect that the costs will remain the same, or even increase, when that does occur. We are still not totally happy that the 10-year passport should go to a 5-year passport. But we would have been more convinced with Matt Robson’s approach or assertions if he had been able at all—at any point—to convince his own leader. In a caucus of two, when one cannot convince the other person on anything, it hardly gives one the justification to come here and criticise caucuses and parties that have 100 percent agreement.
We will tell immigrants, or anybody who wants to come to this country, that we value this country. We value its standards, we value its culture, and we value what it stands for in the world economy and in a social sense. But we say that if people do come here, we will give them an extended time to prove themselves. They need to prove that they want to be part of New Zealand and be part of the New Zealand team, if I might be so bold, and then they will have no problem at all, I would suggest, with anybody else in this country. New Zealand First is not here to say that we should differentiate between one person and another if people come here with honest endeavour, the appropriate background, and the appropriate approach to be part of New Zealand society.
There was a time when freedom and security went hand in hand. But now to some extent, regrettably, if one wants freedom, one needs more security and if one wants less security, then it will impinge on one’s freedom. That is a fact of life in this volatile modern world. This bill will help add to security, but we pay the price in limits on our freedom.
New Zealand First will support this bill and we are very, very pleased that the Minister has taken our advice. Being the modest party that we are, we simply say: “Can we fix it? Yes, we nearly did.”
|Ayes 80||New Zealand Labour 51; New Zealand First 13; ACT New Zealand 7; United Future 8; Progressive 1.|
|Noes 32||New Zealand National 22; Green Party 8; Māori Party 1; Other: Robson.|
|Bill read a third time.|
|Ayes 95||New Zealand Labour 51; New Zealand National 22; New Zealand First 13; United Future 8; Progressive 1.|
|Noes 17||ACT New Zealand 7; Green Party 8; Māori Party 1; Other: Robson.|
|Bill read a third time.|