Another Liu citizenship issue

March 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A wealthy Auckland businessman was given New Zealand against official advice after a Government minister lobbied the colleague who made the decision.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) recommended that the citizenship application of be declined on the grounds that he did not spend enough time in New Zealand or meet English language criteria.

However, one of Mr Liu’s business partners approached Mr Williamson and John Banks — the Mayor of Auckland at the time — and they wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Nathan Guy, asking him to grant citizenship against the official advice.

“Invested in NZ and a lot of support”, was a file note for the case released under the Official Information Act.

Mr Guy, who is no longer the Minister of Internal Affairs, told the Herald that he made the final decision on more than 800 citizenship cases and regularly received correspondence from family and supporters of applicants.

He considered all of the evidence and said of Mr Liu’s application: “I considered at the time that, on balance, the potential benefits to New Zealand warranted the granting of citizenship.”

The official recommendation of whether citizenship should be granted was ignored in 61 of the 1011 cases between 2009 and 2011.

That’s useful to know, so around 6% go against advice.

But the 2010 case was one of several that caused concerns among DIA staff, who raised the possibility of favouritism with the Office of the Auditor-General during an inquiry into a citizenship decision made by Labour MP Shane Jones.

Mr Jones was criticised in the report last year but cleared of any corruption over his decision to grant citizenship to a wealthy businessman who had strong links to Labour. …

Electoral donation records show that Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings Ltd — of which Mr Liu and Mr Goodwin are directors — made a $22,000 donation to the National Party in 2012.

Personally I don’t like a donation occurring from someone who got a favourable Government decision.  The donation was two years after the decision, and I’m not suggesting they were linked. But personally I’d discourage such a donation. However it is quite possible that until this story, National HQ were unaware that the company had a director who had received a favourable Ministerial decision on citizenship.

Mr Mottram confirmed he approached Mr Williamson and Mr Banks to support Mr Liu’s citizenship bid as he was making a very significant contribution as a businessman in Auckland, particularly in the construction industry.

“John’s support was just a matter of course because the activity was in Auckland City, he was the mayor and he was supportive of things that were good for Auckland,” said Mr Mottram.

“Obviously, if you’re the Minister of Building and Construction, you would want to promote building and construction, which we have been involved with for a long time.”

Mr Mottram said the requirements for New Zealand citizenship, which include the amount of time spent in the country and language requirements, were out of date.

“A lot of active, global businessmen are never in one place for any length of time … People who have global businesses are global citizens.”

The decision for citizenship seems justified. Unlike the other Liu case, this one is not wanted by Interpol, wanted in Australia and China, and using fake names. He seems to be entirely reputable. However a donation two years later from him isn’t a great look. However let’s look at what is and is not the same between this and the other Liu case.

The same

  • A Chinese national called Liu
  • A citizenship decision that was granted by the Minister against the Department’s recommendation
  • Lobbying by other MPs in favour
  • A donation to the party in Government

Not the same

  • This Liu was not a wanted alleged criminal, who had broken the law in China and Australia and had been a permanent resident since 2005
  • This Liu did not have multiple identities
  • The MPs advocating on his behalf appear to have done so purely on the basis of his business contributions, not through any personal relationships or friendships such as Samuels had with the other Liu
  • The Minister making the decision wasn’t lobbied time and time again by an MP – the only interventions it seems, were letters in support (which are common)
  • Departmental staffers are not contradicting what the Minister said
  • The donation was two years later, not before the decision was made
  • This Liu was not granted his citizenship in a special ceremony in the Labour Party caucus room!

So as a certain Minister says the optics are not good, and I’m personally uncomfortable with donations being made by entities or people who have had a favourable Government decision, but this is not the Bill Liu case.

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23 Responses to “Another Liu citizenship issue”

  1. J Bloggs (250 comments) says:

    I’m not that concerned about a donation which was made two years after the favourable decision, as I would be if it had been made immediately after, or worse, before the decision had been made.

    Still, perceptions and all…..

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  2. mikemikemikemike (331 comments) says:

    You really don’t give a crap about your credibility do you? – This stinks and you know it, comparing shit from two different beasts is still comparing shit.

    This is dodgy, and in the same week as Collin’s muck up are headaches I’m sure Key could well do without. Trying to spin this positively only serves to make the thing look worse.

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  3. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,924 comments) says:

    MickyMick

    You’ll have to try harder.

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  4. Tautaioleua (318 comments) says:

    mike, Shane Jones was cleared of something similar. The only thing that stinks here are hotel sheets.

    :-)

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  5. mikemikemikemike (331 comments) says:

    The point is, its been a dream run for National scoring hits on Labour because they have so far been seen to be squeaky clean, against Labour’s…… (god what do you call it?). It starts to get pretty difficult to claim the moral high ground with this kind of thing starting to become habitual.

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  6. mjw (400 comments) says:

    I agree, there is considerable separation on the donation. I really don’t think this is an issue. Otherwise we are saying that Liu is somehow a second class citizen that should be looking over his shoulder all the time, and doesn’t have the right to participate in politics. In my view if he is a citizen, he has a right to donate. It looks like a sensible ministerial intervention. Even John Banks role looks clean! What mayor wouldn’t want to support an entrepreneur like this guy in their city?

    Or is there something we don’t know? If not, move on I say.

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  7. kowtow (8,784 comments) says:

    There’s no corruption in New Zealand………..

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  8. Warren Murray (314 comments) says:

    When Nick Smith wrote in support of Bronwyn Pullar, it led to his resignation. I hope we don’t later find that Maurice had some personal connection with Mr Liu.

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  9. burt (8,324 comments) says:

    All we need to clear this sort of thing up is a register where all donations to an MP or a party (under any circumstances) are declared. Why hasn’t a party passed a law to make this so – any MP that fails to comply could be forced to resign immediately…. Doh !

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  10. YesWeDid (1,051 comments) says:

    Clearly Donghua Liu is a bit of an amateur with his donations to the National Party. He should have attended a couple of $5K dinners at Antoine’s and no one would be any the wiser.

    Maybe Tony Astle needs to broaden the menu at his restaurant, add a few Chinese friendly dishes, there is a huge market he is missing out on.

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  11. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    More crap generated by a Labour Party member, and scribe for NZ Herald.

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  12. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (895 comments) says:

    John Key government gone by lunch time….death by thousand cuts….bye bye Mr Key…

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  13. Ashley Schaeffer (513 comments) says:

    It doesn’t really matter if this is in the same league as other Liu or not. To the casual voting observer, this tars National with the same brush that Shane Jones was painted with.

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  14. Jack5 (5,167 comments) says:

    If there could be some sort of magic mirror-transform and New Zealand was the Chinese People’s Republic, and it was New Zealand, Maurice William-Sung would either be a US dollar billionaire or someone-else would be wearing his kidneys.

    Regardless, NZ politicians mostly seem hot for the ethnic re-engineering of the country.

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  15. Akaroa (591 comments) says:

    Oh My! The wailing and gnashing of teeth – just because someone got what to some might appear to be a good and personally favourable citizenship decision! Who cares? Not I for one!

    First things first. This, and what is being blown up by the Left to be the ‘Judith Collins Case’, are but passing ephemera on the daily political round. Once one moves more than fifty meters from Parliament Building these ‘issues” -(using the term loosely) – recede to their more accurate dimensions. And to spell it out, that dimension is nought per cent of nothing!

    Now, in case you wondered, i speak/post as a man in the street who generally says to politicians, “A plague on both your houses’. Or to be more accurate in the crazy cumbersome multi-party set-up we seem to have unseeingly stumbled into, ‘A plague on ALL your houses’

    I think I’ve said it before, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again and again and yet again: “POLITICIANS ARE NOT REAL PEOPLE!!”

    They live in a little separate world of their own in which common words assume new unintended meanings and non-issues are magnified to be matters of National importance. And every three years their – what’s the word i want? – oh yes, ‘Bletherings’ – assume higher and higher tones until on the day before Polling Day they are positively shrieking at each other.

    And the quality of political debate between the parties – all of them – goes something like: ‘Did!”- ‘Didn’t!” – ‘Did too, so there!’ – No! YOU did!’ – ‘No we didn’t!” – etc., etc, ad nauseum ad infinitum.

    Oh Lord, please protect us from the Politicians!!

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  16. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    Assuming this guy already had permanent residency, why exactly did he need citizenship at all?

    The difference it gives is the ability to access Australia under CER, the right to stand for public office and the right not to be deported if he commits a serious crime.

    It would appear obvious he hasn’t had enough days in country whilst on PR to qualify for citizenship, why would he go to lengths to lobby for it ?

    One other thing it does is allow him to renounce his citizenship of the PRC, without NZ citizenship this wouldn’t be possible, as it’s not allowed to be stateless.

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  17. davidp (3,588 comments) says:

    Liu was a citizen. It seems the citizenship decision was a good one given that he is actively engaged with developing the NZ economy. It isn’t unusual for ministers to override the department (happens 6% of the time) and is the reason we have ministerial discretion.

    So the “issue”, such as it is, is that some time later he donated money to a political party. Which is his right as a NZer. Given the elapsed time between the citizenship decision and the donation, then it plainly wasn’t corrupt. So who decided Liu was a second class NZer who somehow lost his right to support a political party? Is it the same people who think that Chinese NZers shouldn’t be allowed to own their own homes, but must be forced to rent homes from “real” NZers. Or the same people who think that there are too many Chinese restaurants on Dominion Road, or that we shouldn’t buy cell phones from a Chinese company.

    So it is an interesting article. Not because it has revealed any corruption, but because it contributes to the anti-Asian hysteria that possesses the NZ Left. The Left love to bang on about the Springbok tour, even though it was 33 years ago. Apparently this event was of such significance that your position on the tour can be used to determine your character years later. But they ignore the fact that the Greens, Labour, and NZ First pander to anti-Chinese racism today, in 2014. It is shameful hypocrisy.

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  18. DJP6-25 (1,389 comments) says:

    It’s not like they do it every month, but still not a good look. Especially when they don’t have the shield of sanctimony.

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  19. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    “That’s useful to know, so around 6% go against advice.”

    And what is the % that go against official advice after a Government minister has lobbied a colleague who makes the decision? 100% is it?

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  20. wiseowl (937 comments) says:

    So according to Newstalk ZB he spent 70 million in property development and couldn’t speak English.

    This type of favourtism for wealthy immigrants is unacceptable.

    Similar situation to the German forming or not forming a political party.

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  21. mikemikemikemike (331 comments) says:

    And now we find out he is up on domestic violence charges……..But he is rich, so I’m guessing that doesn’t count?

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  22. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Was it not Damien O”Connor who sponsored this Chinese immigration application? Time people got facts straight, and not blurred by their left-wing visions!

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  23. jakejakejake (140 comments) says:

    mike yes he is rich and with friends in the National Party he can be assured that all the sordid details of his woman beating will be suppressed.

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