The case raises questions about Dr Thompson’s conduct, the conduct of the staff member who ordered that the residency applications be processed, the culture within the Immigration Service, Dr Thompson’s bosses and the adequacy of the inquiry itself.
Put bluntly, it is not acceptable for public servants to use their positions to advance personal or family interests. Nor is it acceptable for senior public servants to leave doubt in the minds of staff about their intentions when personal or family interests are involved.
Dr Thompson should have refused to play any part in her relatives’ bid to come to this country and, when her connections became known, she should have made it explicitly clear to staff that their application was to be treated on its merits just as every other application should be.
By failing to do so she has damaged her reputation and public confidence in the Immigration Service.
To restore it, public service bosses have no choice but to take drastic action. If they do not, service staff will continue to wonder about what a nod or wink from the chief executive means and migrants will continue to suspect that it is not what you know but who you are related to that matters in New Zealand.
It really was an extremely serious failure on judgement to get involved in any way with your own family’s application. And the wider issues of the culture are the bigger concern – how many other times are policies broken to do someone a favour?