Green MP Keith Locke says the Identity (Citizenship and Travel Document) Bill, as reported back from the Government Administration Committee, will discourage skilled migrants from coming here and undermine our civil liberties.
Mr Locke, the Greens’ Human Rights Spokesperson, sat on the committee and submitted a joint minority report with Progressive MP Matt Robson.
“Committee chair Dianne Yates is using sophistry when she argues today that we won’t be disadvantaged in the competition for skilled migrants because residents here have more rights that those in Australia.
“What migrants want are citizenship and a passport. Under this Bill it is going to take five years residency in New Zealand and only two years across the Tasman. The Australian Government will be laughing at us.
“To add insult to injury, time spent contributing to New Zealand on business and work visas will no longer count in the qualifying period.
“Yates also shouldn’t use September 11 to justify the Minister of Internal Affairs being given the ‘national security’ power to take away a citizen’s passport. Even in the depths of the Cold War, New Zealanders didn’t follow the American lead and take away people’s passports on security grounds. Dissenters like American singer Paul Robeson lost their passports in this way.
“Now, under a ‘liberal’ Labour Government, New Zealanders are losing their fundamental right to a passport. Those affected can appeal to the High Court, but that reverses the onus of proof. They have to prove their innocence, at huge cost, after their passport is snaffled.
“This Identity Bill is security gone mad. Surely, the present rigorous checks on prospective residents and the three years waiting time for citizenship are enough to smoke out any terrorists.
“The other target of this abominable Bill is babies who are born here but who will no longer have automatic citizenship. Yates is wrong to say the committee had evidence that women were flying here just to get citizenship for their babies. It happens very rarely because there is no incentive for the mother, who has to leave New Zealand on the expiry of her visitor’s visa.
“The downside of the change is that babies born to people legitimately here on work visas might get inferior medical treatment. Parents who will now be obliged to pay the full cost of the baby’s medical care may not be able to afford it,” said Mr Locke.