There are many aspects to this story about the unpaid Labour interns, ranging from hypocrisy to electoral spending to taxpayer funding. I’ll focus on all of these over time.
But the key one for now, is whether Labour has taken part in a massive case of immigration fraud.
If the “fellows” are here on a visitor visa, then the rules from Immigration NZ are very clear:
On a visitor visa you can do volunteer work while in New Zealand, provided you receive no gain or reward.
And what is gain or reward?
Gain or reward is any payment or benefit that can be valued in terms of money.
accommodation, such as board or lodging
goods, such as food or clothing
services, such as transport
We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.
It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.
So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.
I’m not sure which scenario is more damaging, but I’d say the fraud scenario is worse than the hypocrisy scenario.