Immigration irregularities

had a major story last night focusing on Mary-Anne Thompson, the head of the Immigration Service. They report:

Documents obtained by ONE News under the Official Information Act reveal the head of the Immigration Service organised visa waivers for her nephew Katekeimoa and another relative from Kiribati to come to NZ on holiday in 2004.

Visa waivers are usually only granted in emergencies. But emails obtained by ONE News show the waiver was granted to save the family the inconvenience of getting proper visas. …

But there were big problems with Katekeimoa and his family’s residency application. The quota from Kiribati was full and New Zealand was not accepting any more immigrants from there, and the application was lodged outside the allocated timeframe.

Despite all these issues, the head of immigration’s family were fast-tracked through and made New Zealand residents.

This is not a good look.  When you are the CEO of the Immigration Service you need to be cleaner than clean when it comes to any Immigration issues concerning your own family. I would have expected formally notifying your boss (Labour Dept CEO) that family members are making an application and ask your boss to ensure than decision making is done in such a way that you are not involved and no-one reporting to you feels any pressure, and most of all no deviation from normal practice happens.

I’m very surprised that someone as competent as Thompson would follow less than bess practice. Thompson is one of the top female civil servants. She was a high flyer at Treasury and then ended up helping manage Winston’s office when he was Treasurer (no mean task). After that she headed up the highly respected advisory group in the Dept of PM and Cabinet.
I didn’t know her well, being a very junior political flunkie in the PM’s Office, but Thompson was highly regarded as astute and professional.  Since then she has been a bit of a trouble-shooter, cleaning up after the lies in unison scandal in Immigration etc.

The allegations are pretty serious in that there appears to have been a serious lack of judgement involved, something which in Immigration especially can undermine confidence. I think this issue will not go away for a while.

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