Jamie Whyte on Immigration decisions

July 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT Leader Jamie Whyte blogs:

But politicians’ involvement with would-be immigrants is clearly a problem.  Maurice Williamson, Phillip Field, Shane Jones, Damien O’Connor and now Jonathan Coleman have been drawn into controversy.

Even if there has been no improper behaviour, the appearance of politicians doing favours for wealthy would-be immigrants undermines public confidence not only in our system but in politics more generally. People will suspect that politicians are doing favours for these would-be immigrants in return for favours they have done the politicians.

The problem has a simple solution. The Minister of Immigration should have no involvement in the immigration application process. Nor should any other MP. Immigration applications are an operational matter. Political interference should play no role in them.

When exceptions to standard policy need to be considered, this should be done by qualified members of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), which already exists. The IPT may need a wider remit to approve exceptional cases. That is a proper matter for politicians to decide. But once the rules and processes are established, politicians should play no further role in the matter. They should have no say in individual cases.

I think there is merit in this suggestion. Either a Judge, or members of a tribunal, should make decisions on cases that fall outside policy. You need the flexibility to make decisions on individual cases, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a Minister.

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25 Responses to “Jamie Whyte on Immigration decisions”

  1. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Totally agree.

    We have spent far too much time and money and had an election campaign dominated by such issues. Given the system as it currently standards allow the interference of MP’s either real or just implied, is not on. Remove the opportunity of any possible corruption, or suggestion of corruption and the problem is hopefully solved.

    Providing we have good solid legislation and guidelines in place that reflect on the needs of the country regarding immigration, there shouldn’t be further problems if Whyte’s suggestion is implemented.

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  2. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    “the appearance of politicians doing favours for wealthy would-be immigrants undermines public confidence not only in our immigration system but in politics more generally.”

    Merely confirms for us plebs what we knew about politicians already.Then they wonder why so many voters are “disengaged” or disillusioned,

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  3. Simon (724 comments) says:

    There shouldnt be any political borders. Free movement of people. Then airliners wouldnt get shot down.

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  4. swan (665 comments) says:

    Agreed,

    Of course this philosophy should be extended to other operational matters such as: funding individual transport or other infrastructure projects; divesting of, or investing in, individual commercial assets (eg power companies).

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  5. Vader (10 comments) says:

    Not entirely convinced there’s need for extra bureaucracy. Aren’t there enough checks and balances in the process until it gets to the Minister. Then to avoid any question of undue influence let the Minister only have the power to reject an application accepted by INZ.

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  6. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    All a bit late I’m afraid…The fat German horse has well and truly bolted.

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  7. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    This would mean that one of an MP’s primary tasks, advocating for constituents, would be ruled out on immigration matters. Advocating for potential immigrants is apparently one of the most common things MPs are approached about.

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  8. HB (321 comments) says:

    can a potential immigrant be a constituent?

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  9. duggledog (1,558 comments) says:

    Great idea Simon. OK if I come and stay at your place? I’ve got lots of cattle

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  10. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Politicians are publicly accountable for what they do. Disclosure is the key. I do not accept more and more decisions should go to unelected officials who are NOT publicly accountable. Why not have a totally bureaucratic state where democracy means nothing.

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  11. Vader (10 comments) says:

    tvb you prefer some of the US models where you vote for the police chief and attorney general? No thanks. I hold politicians responsible for policy and governance, not the doing or necessarily the mistakes made by the doers.

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  12. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    It sill never happen.

    Immigration is an intense political issue, and always has been. Remember how Walsh and Skinner killed plans to open immigration following unions work-place concerns over the work ethics of hundreds of Dutch migrants?

    Bureaucrats re NOT elected. MPs are elected. We elect them.

    The bureaucrats are not wholly silly because they protect their interests at every turn, starting with the dinosaur-like SSC.

    Moreover, bureaucrats have a built-in belief: “The Minister and the MPs work for us.” Ergo they will press to retain the “Ministerial discretion”.

    Better to get rid of the dinosaur-like SSC, allow all Ministers to make their own appointments, and thereby force them to carry responsibility for their decisions. Or have we forgotten why we elect MPs?????

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  13. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    “you prefer some of the US models where you vote for the police chief and attorney general?”

    Don’t forget judges. Yes I would. I am getting the impression that some judges, police, etc., are totally out of touch with the real world and don’t reflect what most people think.

    They are public servants (not a privileged elite). They should start acting like it.

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  14. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    So you would be happy, flipper, for Ministers to continue to make decisions on individual applications, accepting all the trouble that accompanies that? Why not get Ministers involved in other areas too, deciding who should get state houses or who should have their benefits cut off?
    There is no logical reason to have politicians deciding which individuals should receive exceptions to definied immigration policy. Invest the discretion with suitable officials, with appeal rights to a tribunal.

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  15. JC (956 comments) says:

    It sounds good, but it would only last till the first officials only approved migrant rapes or kills a citizen. Then all hell breaks loose and Labour vows to much public approval to scrap the procedure and reinstall Ministerial oversight and approval, the Greens insist only Germans with “innovative green ideas” be allowed in, Winston won’t allow anyone in thats not English and named “John Bull” and Hone has the only non racial request that all may come provided they pay him both tribute and a set Koha.

    JC

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  16. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    “I hold politicians responsible for policy and governance, not the doing or necessarily the mistakes made by the doers.”

    That’s not the way our left-stream media and the Green party look at it. As far as they are concerned, Murray McCully should have been physically down at the MFAT offices, on the phone to the Malaysians, demanding that they not make a claim for diplomatic immunity and telling them that they wouldn’t honour the claim if it happened.

    IMHO They got a bit too used to Helen running everything. They can’t (dont want to) cope with a government that does try and set policy and governance, and leave the operational issues to the government departments concerned. For some reason,these left-wingers have no trust in letting the public servants do their jobs.

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  17. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    Milky….

    No problem with that milky, if Bob Semple’s position were to be given effect.

    Semple, you will no doubt recall, famously said in relation to yet another bureaucratic cock up : “As Minister I may be responsible, but I am not to blame.”

    Sheeting home blame seems to be the name of the game these days, is it not?

    Well, every bureaucrat that cocks up should shoulder the blame and be fired, or disciplined in whatever way is appropriate.

    Under any realistic system, Milky, you would never secure employment, except with the PSA. Tough!

    That would
    A. produce better outcomes for taxpayers, and

    B. Hasten the demise of the dreadful anchor that is the PSA.

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  18. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    As it happens, I am not a member of the PSA, yet I have no trouble in securing employment at a suitable remuneration.

    What makes you think public servants are not held accountable? So far as I can see, it happens routinely.

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  19. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    It always amuses me when a Minister declares that they cant possibly get involved in a matter ( ones that they damn well should) because its an ‘operational matter” and then get their sticky noses involved in matters that are operational and think nothing of it.

    They all subscribe to the Clarke dictum that ‘Government is whatever Government wants it to be”.

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  20. Liam Hehir (125 comments) says:

    This would mean that one of an MP’s primary tasks, advocating for constituents,

    All depends on how you define “primary” I suppose. I would put several things well ahead of exercising influence on behalf of individual constituents. Debating proposed laws, controlling government expenditure, scrutinising the government…

    Not sure how healthy it is for liberal democracy for us to see MPs as social workers with “clients” and “case loads” .

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  21. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Sensible suggestion by Whyte. Keeps this up and I could hold out some hope for ACT

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  22. hj (7,023 comments) says:

    In the comments:

    According to 2013 Census Data, over one million New Zealanders were born overseas, accounting for about 25% of the country’s population. This marks an increase from about 20% in 2001 and 23% in 2006.

    Between 1986 and 2006, the numbers born in Asia and now resident in New Zealand increased by 661 percent, with Chinese (899.4 percent) and Indians (841.6 percent) dominating growth in this population category.

    Over that time the number of overseas-born Pacific people also doubled, and immigration from other countries, such as Africa, also increased substantially.

    The social shift was brought about by the Fourth Labour Government’s Immigration Act 1987, which radically changed migrant entry to New Zealand. Requirements were now to be based on individual characteristics, skills and money rather than preferred source countries.

    Merely considering the overall percentage of migrants masks the greater density and impact of foreign-born populations in the cities and suburbs where immigrants tend to congregate.

    A Otago Daily Times article (December 2012) by Lincoln Tan stated that according to Statistics NZ figures, white Europeans were likely to lose majority status in Auckland over the next few years as the combined population of Asians (particularly Chinese and Indians), Pacific Islanders, and so-called Maori skyrocketed.

    Auckland’s population was 76 percent white European in 1976. Projections show this will decline to 51 percent by 2016, with further reductions to follow over succeeding years.

    Massey University sociology professor Paul Spoonley, who made the Auckland population projection based on Statistics NZ figures, said it was a matter of “when” rather than “if” minority communities combined would outnumber white Europeans in Auckland.

    This migrant population is predominately a youthful one, meaning the decline in the white European population will be further accelerated by higher birth rates among immigrants. As one might expect, the effect of this demographic trend will first be felt in Auckland, and is already taking place. As a September 2011 NBR article noted, though around 40 percent of Aucklanders were foreign-born, half of all working-age Aucklanders were born outside New Zealand.

    Since Auckland is home to some 32 percent of New Zealand’s population, it becomes clear that mass-scale immigration, left unchecked, is likely to leave native-born New Zealander a minority, first of all in the major cities, then in their own country in 50 years or less.

    Such population replacement is already well underway everywhere non-assimilable blocs become entrenched. But New Zealanders have never voted for it. It just happens, forced or enabled from above. Perhaps a majority of us want to disappear in a global multi-culture, but I doubt it. That’s why we have borders and immigration laws. Sadly, we also have a political class who feel entitled to make a mockery of the democratic process, and thus of our nationhood. It looks like a means to an end — the end of that nationhood.

    The response of the Leftist academic, media, and political establishment to those pointing out these trends with a view to promoting public debate is to accuse them of “scaremongering.” The enlightened person’s thought-bubble is now supposed to register the word “racism.” But is it really “fear of immigrants” or “racism” that might lead native-born Kiwis to object to their own demographic extinction?

    Is it “fear” and “scaremongering” to object to this deliberate population replacement? Is it “racism” to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation taking place before our unseeing eyes?

    The impulse to limit the influx of Chinese, Muslims, Africans and others, whose demographic waves will otherwise transform our Kiwi culture into a global multi-culture is not racism. Rather, it is the instinct to survive as a recognisable culture and nation state.

    In a democracy, government policy is rarely questioned until the underlying assumptions that create it are questioned. New Zealand, like every other Western country, is now run by a deeply embedded leftist establishment, dedicated to using its cultural dominance as a bully pulpit against anyone who dares to question its monolithic world view.
    Closing down dissenters is accomplished not by reasoned debate, but by demonisation and shrill accusations of bigotry against those refusing to follow the leftist-determined party line.
    This issue is too important to be left to our academic, media and political establishment. Surely ALL those who live here, not just a handful of self-anointed opinion-shapers, have an absolute right to say who gets to live here, in what numbers, and under what conditions.

    Buckling to denigration of a nation’s survival instinct as a primitive expression of fear and racism is to enable the mechanism of our own demise: silence and retreat in the face of endless recrimination and grievance-mongering.

    http://www.act.org.nz/?q=posts/politicians-favours-and-immigration#comments

    The elites know all to well the gaps in the democratic system.
    Lead us oh Great One, Helen Clark (Professor Spoonley, Kim Hill, etc, etc)

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  23. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    I disagree with White. The final decision should remain the responsibility of the Minister but it should also be agreed to by cabinet and the Minister should report back to his CEO on the justification for overiding the Department. We already have an over supply of cabals of politically appointed lawyers such as the EPA deciding issues on feel good emotions and does anyone still trust the judiciary. Ministers are elected to make decision and be accountable not to delegate to troughers.

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  24. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    I don’t trust politicians full stop to make the right decision. Look at the history of what our politicians have done. If a politician believes that the law isn’t working well enough for a particular person then change the law. It would be like making our politicians judges. How would you national supporters feel if Labour gets in and overturns KDC’s extradition proceedings?

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  25. marcw (248 comments) says:

    Perhaps if the reasons that the Minister made a particular decision had to be conveyed to the CEO, then we would have proper accountability, and less of this “I can’t remember” nonsense. This should be the rule, not at the whim of the Minister.

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