Green MP Keith Locke says the Government has dodged the key immigration issues in its response to the petition to Parliament on the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982.
The Government’s reply to the report of the Government Administration Committee, of which Mr Locke is a member, was tabled in Parliament today.
“Mr Goff entirely ignores the major concern of the petitioners – that Samoans should be able to visit and reside in New Zealand more easily,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Human Rights Spokesperson.
“Just tinkering to make sure the current Samoan quota is filled is simply not enough.
“Shouldn’t we be more open to Samoan visitors and migrants? Do we really have a ‘special relationship’ with Samoa when 43 other nations have visa-free entry to New Zealand and Samoa doesn’t?
“The Samoan contribution to New Zealand society and national identity can be seen in the recent appointment of Tana Umaga as All Black captain and in Beatrice Faumuina carrying our flag at tomorrow’s Olympic opening ceremony.
“For Helen Clark, in Samoa for the Pacific Forum, to reject visa-free entry is a slap in the face. The Prime Minister blamed the Samoan over-stayer ‘problem’. However she should ask herself whether the restrictions on Samoan people coming here are largely to blame. If Australians faced the same hurdles when trying to enter or stay in New Zealand there would be an Australian over-stayer problem too.
“If our Government is to really ‘revisit, review and renew’ the 1962 Treaty of Friendship, as the committee proposed, it must enter substantive discussion with Samoa on migration issues. Such talks must consider the major Samoan demand, for visa-free entry to New Zealand,” said Mr Locke.