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 immigration 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.