New Zealand immigration needs to do due diligence on tradies

Over a six month period, an Immigration New Zealand/Police operation stopped 190 potential tradies whose immigration visas were found to be suspect. Some were stopped at the border and sent home before they could enter New Zealand. Some were caught on work sites and deported. Many more are most likely still here in some capacity.

The tradies commonly told the officials that “a man in a black Audi” would come around and pay them every Thursday. He would pay them $20 or $40/hr. Operation Spectrum as it was known also uncovered a weakness in New Zealand border security, that enables people who have left or been deported to return under new identities.

One of these non-compliant people is Adam Gan Bin Abdullah, from Malaysia. He was one of two who went on to get permanent residency. Last week he went to Manukau District Court to plead guilty to immigration fraud. Somehow though, Mr Abdullah found the gall to intone that he thought he could get away with it.

This is not an acceptable attitude for anyone hiring in New Zealand to have. One could go on about “when in Rome” and subsequent expectations, but the simple fact of the matter is New Zealand is supposed to have standards to promote and uphold and undermining them with such an attitude is clearly not going to achieve that task.

When an employer pays out in cash, it is time to pay attention. How do we know if he has paid A.C.C., deducted income tax and so forth from the money? If he has how do we know that it is accurate? And where are the paper records that he would be expected to keep when approached by Inland Revenue Department, that compliant New Zealand employers would keep?

When New Zealand Immigration goes over the visa applications for people such as the tradespeople that Mr Abdullah hired, whose role is it to check that they are actually qualified and not cowboys? Whose role is it to check that their visa applicants are true and correct?

Immigration New Zealand has improved its detection systems, with improved biometric data handling processes. It says that with these improvements New Zealand has a better chance of picking up frauds like Mr Abdullah at the border before they are let in.

Whilst that is good to hear, any person not born in New Zealand who knowingly violates New Zealand immigration law once should have a minimum non-entry period, with a warning that next time it is permanent.

Indian visa numbers plunge

Indian visa applications to New Zealand have taken a significant dive in the last few years.

Given India’s rapid population growth one might have thought that Indian tourists and visa holders would be accelerating. Apparently not.

The trend however seems to have started under the previous Government as the number of Indians seeking visas in New Zealand dropped in consecutive years from 25,977 in 2015 and 16,380 in 2017 to just 9,429 in 2017.

I personally have no ideas as to what might have fuelled the plunge other than a few broad theories:

  • The expat Indian community noticed a change in sentiment
  • Repeated concerns about the abuse of employees by a few ruined it for the many
  • New Zealand simply is not the safe place we claim it to be

What can be done?

To a large extent I think this problem is in our hands. We need to create the judicial conditions where all can come into the Police Station or where ever and tell the officer on duty what happened. We need to stop being complacent about the perception that New Zealand is clean/green when we have the poor environmental records to show it. The country is not and it is damaging our reputation.

I have no problems with Indian visa holders coming here and working. However New Zealand needs to do a much better job than it currently is ensuring that all visa applicants are:

  • Legitimate
  • Have the appropriate doocumentation
  • A willingness to set aside concerns in the immediate future after arriving in New Zealand and give oneself a reasonable chance. No one said it was a walk in the park.

New Zealand passports among worlds most powerful

This week Henley and Partners released their ranking of the value of individual nations passports. This is a valuation listing based on the number of countries an individual passport will give a person access to.

The New Zealand passport is powerful in that it will admit a holder to 171 separate countries. This is seventh equal and places New Zealand ahead of even much more influential nations such as the United States, but behind Germany, whose passport permits a holder to enter 177 separate countries, the most of any nation in the world.

I have to admit, it is actually quite an attractive document to open up. With a black cover that has the Crown insignia and fronds of a silver fern imposed on the front, and an outline of New Zealand on the back with the international code for New Zealand, NZL, the passport is immediately distinctive. Each page set aside for visas has a background design based on a theme specific to New Zealand. On one page you can see a whale, and on another, the tail of a diving whale recognizing the importance that Maori placed on sea life and colonial history of having whaling stations along the east coast. Pages 36-37 for example has a background image of Aoraki/Mt Cook, with a silver fern and topographic map imagery superimposed across the lower parts of the page.

It is a reminder of the good international stead that we as a nation are held in around the world. It is also a justification of the work that goes into ensuring our borders remain secure and are protected by properly resourced, funded and trained people.

The passport is therefore a highly sought after document and unfortunately, like those of other well respected nations, there will always be a few people who seek to obtain one illegally or use one for illegal purposes. They are the people who should never be allowed to hold a New Zealand passport again in their lives.

I believe that a 10 year New Zealand passport should only be available to New Zealand citizens who have resided continuously in this country for more than 10 years. The 5 year passport would be available to anyone who successfully applies to hold one.

Henley notes that whilst some countries, such as the United States are closing or restricting border access, most countries appear to be trying to improve access. It is thought that this is largely for economic reasons, such as tapping into the economic potential of tourism, freer migration.

Why N.Z. should not trust Peter Dutton on refugees

New Zealand and Australia have a close relationship. Thousands of New Zealanders live there and thousands of Australians live here. The relationship is in many ways one of the most beautiful between two sovereign nations where each others citizens enjoy rights in the other country that other nationalities can only dream of unless they apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Immigration between the two countries has for years been a largely N.Z.>>Australia drift as many New Zealanders have gone over to enjoy the economic benefits of living in a country with a larger and more diverse economy.

In recent years concerns have arisen among Australian politicians about New Zealand being a potential back door to the “Lucky Country”. Concerns have been particularly loud about refugees and asylum seekers, which for reasons unknown Australia – whilst being well known as a conservative country – has an almost infantile fear of. This is all the more striking for a country that took thousands of refugees from Europe during World War 2.

Its Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton, a former policeman, has led the charge with a zeal that has been in some respects his own undoing on the world stage. Once recognized as a Minister of Immigration, his reputation has nose dived with attack after attack on refugees and asylum seekers, claiming they are out take Australian jobs, are terrorists, rapists and wealthy queue jumpers.

Mr Dutton has been caught lying red handed. This is not the first and probably not the last time that the Minister for Immigration and Border Control has been caught being economic with the truth. A few examples are below:

In 2015 Mr Dutton claimed weapons were used in a stand off with Manus Island guards. Papua New Guinea police said no such thing happened.

Mr Dutton claims the asylum seekers are wealthy. This could not be further from the truth as many sacrificed everything to get away from the wars, dictatorships and persecution that made their past lives abject misery and outright dangerous.

When a shooting rampage occurred, Mr Dutton claimed that the incident started a result of asylum seekers taking a young boy to the centre. Papua New Guinea police said that this was not the case.

The Reverend Tim Costello visited Manus Island recently and found that the facilities on the island that the Australian Government are – contrary to Mr Dutton’s continued assertions – not completed and that in many respects still look like a construction site.

The number of times that this man, a Minister of the Government of our nearest and dearest neighbour, has grown his nose can only suggest that he is a compulsive liar who has no regard for the truth. How can the New Zealand Government work with him and his colleagues, many of whom are thoroughly discredited in their own portfolio’s, when they so determinedly lie, lie and lie some more?

At the end of the day we have look past what Mr Dutton is doing. It is not for us to tell Australia how to govern itself – we can only hope that in making the necessary choices for Australia that it comes to realize it is going to have to do much better on refugees and asylum seekers. It is going to have to respect the fact that New Zealand actually made meaningful gains from having asylum seekers from the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa. We stand to make further gains from the asylum seekers that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has volunteered to take.

And although Australia took a leap forward with same sex marriage, in terms of social equality, I am not sure that you can call Australia the “Lucky Country” any more.

National scared of Winston Peters

Yesterday, the Minister for Immigration, Michael Woodhouse announced a raft of new measures to tackle record numbers of migrants coming to New Zealand. The measures come amid a stagnating and high house prices.

But what  was this: An act of desperation? An act of cynicism? An act by a party that is scared of a wily old foe? The timing suggests it could be a combination of all three.

For years Winston Peters and his New Zealand First party have been a consistent clarion for more sustainable levels of immigration than the 71,000 migrants who flooded into New Zealand last year. National has hit back each time, accusing New Zealand First of wanting to stifle growth and of being xenophobic all the while ignoring the very socio-economic issues that are being fuelled by the rapid population growth.

I have no problems with immigration and nor does the New Zealand First party which I support. Without regard to race or reason for coming, if people want to come here and contribute constructively to New Zealand whether they are on work visas, as tourists, let them. If they want to live here long term as law abiding New Zealanders, let them. Where the problem lies is being able to continue this without the quality of life that those already in New Zealand and those that have lived here all along, enjoy being eroded.

Determining what constitutes a sustainable immigration flow is a tricky question and the answers no doubt depend on what is intended to be gained from the data, its modelling and subsequent outputs. If we are simply looking for a rate of immigration that can be maintained for say a generation, perhaps statistical census data, coupled with regional data sets pertaining to the environment is an appropriate way to go. Geographic Information Systems software can do this in a temporal and/or spatial manner, and other applications can do statistical manipulation.

So, how does this relate to National being scared of Mr Peters? The data sets already exist and National has had eight years to use the data to attempt some modelling, and draw up appropriate policy based on the outcomes. The party might well argue that this is what it is doing now.

But after three terms, knowing history does not favour – with the exception of Keith Holyoake, four term peace time Governments, one cannot help but notice the cynicism of the timing. Now it is election year and National has had three terms in office and is seeking a historic fourth term. It has enjoyed years of riding high in the polls and watching Labour slump to consecutive defeats. It has built itself up on a centrist mandate that former Prime Minister John Key obtained in 2008, renewed in 2011 and again in 2014. Mr Key created a common man image that worked well for him, but has come unstuck on current Prime Minister Bill English.

Come 24 September if this attitude of National continues, the party could very well be in a state of shock, unable – and perhaps unwilling – to admit that perhaps one Winston Peters was right all along.