The Government is moving in the right direction with its decision to have the Auditor-General investigate the Immigration Service. This is on top of the SSC, Labour Department and Police investigations.
Few would dispute that the Auditor-General has more independence than an internal inquiry by SSC or Labour. In that regard, asking the AG to investigate is a good thing.
Lockwood Smith makes the point that the AG may not be able to investigate what Ministers were told, and when. Certainly it appears in some areas Ministers were never briefed – namely the non doctorate by LSE. But they were briefed it seems on the Oughton report and the investigation into setting up the Pacific Branch.
Yesterday National’s immigration spokesman, Lockwood Smith, said the Auditor-General’s inquiry had to include ministerial involvement. “David Cunliffe and Clayton Cosgrove were briefed but did nothing.”
But Helen Clark said she was satisfied her ministers had acted appropriately on the information they were given.
With all respect, I’d feel much more reassured if there was some verification of that. The issue is whether the public agree that Ministers acted appropriately – and for that to happen, more information is needed.
However it appears the Auditor-General will get to set his own terms of reference – that is a good thing.