Locke welcomes proposed changes to Citizenship Bill

Green MP Keith Locke has welcomed the Government’s decision to axe proposed retrospective legislation that could have forced migrants about to be granted New Zealand citizenship to wait for an extra two years.

“It was quite wrong for permanent residents living in New Zealand to suddenly have the ground rules changed under them,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Human Rights spokesperson.

“Retrospective lawmaking is generally bad law-making and it certainly was in this case. Under the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Documents) Bill’s existing wording, a migrant about to get citizenship could suddenly be asked to wait an extra two years.

“However, even if that clause is removed the bill remains flawed. The Government has given no adequate reason why the qualifying time for citizenship should be pushed out from three to five years, or why time spent here on a work permit shouldn’t count towards the qualifying time.

“Spouses of New Zealand citizens are particularly disadvantaged by the new measures, with their qualifying time moving from two to five years. Having to wait five years for a passport is going to inconvenience the New Zealander and his or her spouse, particularly when travelling together to countries where our citizens have visa-free entry,” said Mr Locke.

The bill is currently before the Government Administration Select Committee, which Mr Locke will be sitting on for hearings on the bill.