2nd Reading Of Immigration Amendment Bill (no.2)

  • John Delamare

Mr Speaker, I move that the Immigration Amendment Bill (No. 2) be now read a second time.

This is a very brief Bill designed to allow New Zealand to deal fairly and efficiently with the possible arrival of large numbers of people who wish to enter New Zealand unlawfully.

The background is that the New Zealand Immigration Service has been advised of the potential arrival of a boatload of 102 Chinese nationals who indicated that they were en route to, and would seek to enter, New Zealand unlawfully.

This boat has left Honiara in the Solomon Islands and intelligence indicates that if the intention of the boat is to come to New Zealand, depending on the weather conditions, it could arrive as soon as Sunday, 20th June, or as late as three weeks from now.

In the past, Australia has been the target of a number of mass arrivals with more than 400 people arriving in its waters since January 1999.

In anticipation that it is only a matter of time before a boat arrives in New Zealand, the NZIS in consultation with numerous other Government departments, has developed policies and procedures to deal with a mass arrival. These policies and procedures are supported by immigration legislation which comes into force on 1 October 1999.

Relevant Sections of the Act

In determining when the mass arrival provisions should come into force, the NZIS took into account intelligence with regard to the season for boat arrivals (usually November to February). Given that the 1998/99 season for boat arrivals had ended, the NZIS considered that a 1 October 1999 implementation date would be appropriate.

While existing legislation is adequate for processing individual claimants in turnaround type situations, the NZIS considers that existing legislation does not go far enough to enable the processing of a mass arrival.

Sections 37 - 39 of the Immigration Amendment Act which amends sections 128-128b of the principal Act provides the necessary framework for processing a mass arrival. These sections include provision for the continued detention of a group of individuals, allowing any claim for refugee status and appeal would be determined and any consequential actions to be finalised.

The new provisions provide for the continued detention of persons who arrive in New Zealand as part of a mass arrival until such time as all claims for refugee status and any consequence arising from those decisions have been finalised. The provisions also reinforce the NZIS
's responsibility as the primary agency for processing and maintaining such persons.

The commencement date of parts of the Immigration Amendment Act 1999 will need to be amended to enable the following sections to come into force immediately:

· section 37 to 39 - which relate to the detention and departure of persons refused permits, or persons whose eligibility for a permit is not immediately ascertainable;

· sections 45 (3) and 46 - which contain provisions relating to custody; and

· sections 50(2) and 52 (2) - which relate to the offence of wilfully aiding or assisting other persons to arrive in New Zealand otherwise than in compliance with requirements of the principal Act.

Mr Speaker, this is a prudent Bill that deserves the support of all parties in this House and I commend it to all Members.