Delamere: Robson Has Lost The Plot

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, says the Alliance immigration spokesman, Matt Robson, has finally lost the plot. "Matt used to be a competent immigration lawyer and it is now a sad thing to see him degenerate into a conspiracy theorist," said Mr Delamere.

The Minister's remarks were prompted by the recent intemperate outburst from Mr Robson, in which he accused the New Zealand Immigration Service of arresting and jailing people under the Passport Act; of holding kangaroo courts; of denying people legal representation; and of a scandalous abuse of process.

"There are so many inaccuracies in Mr Robson's charges it is difficult to know where to begin in correcting them, but his hysterical allegations are so serious they must be answered.

"The Immigration Service does not jail people under the Passports Act. Anyone who claims refugee status at the border has their claim heard by the Refugee Status Branch, and then by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, if they appeal.

"In the vast majority of cases, spontaneous claimants at the border are interviewed to establish their identity. They are then given a 12-month work permit to allow the claim process to be worked through.

"In a very few cases, where the person is prohibited under the Immigration Act from being given a permit (e.g. someone with terrorist links) that person is held in custody while their claim is determined.

"These cases are given priority because the person concerned is in custody and where the person is found to be a genuine refugee, they are released.

"People being held in custody are advised of their right to legal representation and the NZIS is happy for them to have a lawyer present at any interview relating to their refugee status.

"Mr Robson also made strong allegations of improper NZIS actions concerning a Nigerian who claimed refugee status recently at Auckland Airport. Again, Mr Robson has got his facts wrong.

"The Nigerian arrived and attempted to enter New Zealand using someone else's passport. When he was detected and referred to Immigration officers, he demanded and was given access to a solicitor.

"It was only after he had been advised he would be refused entry into New Zealand that he claimed refugee status.

"Mr Robson ought to be aware of the distinction that needs to be made between border claimants who use false or fraudulent documentation to reach New Zealand, and those who present such documentation with the intention of entering New Zealand.

"In the latter case, it can reasonably be presumed that the intention was not to claim refugee status, but to gain illegal entry into this country.

"I must say I am disturbed that Mr Robson has chosen to launch this vicious and ill-informed attack on the NZIS who are public servants doing a valuable job for this country. Coupled with Helen Clark's recent threats against the public service, I predict civil servants will have a sorry time of it if Mr Robson and Ms Clark ever gain the Treasury benches," concluded Mr Delamere.