BIG NEWS

Friday, May 16, 2008

Corruption discovered in Immigration, and not for the first time


Last night, TVNZ reported that a third of the staff of the Pacific division of the Immigration Service have been involved in a raft of offences including bribery and fraud. This was the division that Mary Anne Thompson had a hand in after she got the top Immigration job in 2004. Two months after she got the job, she was firing off e-mails to the NZIS office in Suva asking for advice on getting family in Kiribati to New Zealand, breaking her own code of conduct. Then she reportedly had a hand in this Pacific unit where many of the staff were sacked for corruption.

Remember when former Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere alleged a while back that corrupt officials had fast tracked applications in 2002, possibly taking bribes in the process. Well, the Government conducted an investigation of 89 cases.Of the cases, 39 were either declined or processed in two days, and of the 50 remaining ones - including six spouse applications - half were filled in by one trustworthy immigration officer and were selected because they looked in order and had the paperwork attached, and were produced by selected immigration agents who had a track record of producing quality applications. How could they not find that there was no evidence of undue influence, let alone corruption.

Also in 2003 its then communications manager Ian Smith made his infamous “lie in unison” comment.

Smith who wrote on an official document that he was badly let down by his colleagues because “everyone had agreed to lie in unison but all the others caved in and I was the only one left singing the original song”.

The State Services Commission should hurry up and do it's report. The public can hardly have confidence in the public service to administer the Immigration Act impartially and without fear or favour.

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