Govt using babies as political footballs: Locke

The Green Party wants the Government to withdraw legislation that would take New Zealand citizenship away from babies born to non-resident parents.

“This move is playing political football with innocent babies, we shouldn’t be so mean-spirited,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Human Rights Spokesperson.

“The present provision is there for a very good reason, to make sure all babies born in New Zealand have at least one secure citizenship, that of the country in which they are born.

“The status of a baby’s migrant parents can sometimes be in doubt, but this shouldn’t be to the disadvantage of a baby who is born here and who should have all the rights to proper treatment of a New Zealand citizen.

“The Commissioner for Children, Cindy Kiro, is correct that we have obligations to all children here under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Granting citizenship to babies born here is a guarantee of that.

“The anti-immigrant scaremongers are raising a fuss about women coming here to give birth just so their babies can become New Zealand citizens. This is hardly a significant problem and the Government must front up with actual figures if it believes otherwise.

“The historical record would show that only a tiny number of children born to people visiting New Zealand have come back in later life to settle here. Surely, we can be charitable enough to accommodate them among the thousands of migrants coming to New Zealand each year?

“The Government shouldn’t take heart from the recent Irish referendum, which is taking away citizenship rights babies born of non-residents. That result was achieved via a distasteful anti-immigrant campaign that would be repugnant to decent New Zealanders,” said Mr Locke.