Government's Overstayer Policy Needs to be Re-examined
Monday 13th Nov 2000 Penny Webster Media Release -- Other
“Only 455 of New Zealand’s estimated 22,000 overstayers have applied for work permits in the first month of the
Government’s six-month transitional overstayer strategy,” said ACT Immigration Spokesman Penny Webster.
Releasing freshly obtained answers to Parliamentary Questions by the Minister of Immigration, Mrs Webster said the
disappointing results were consistent with the feedback she was receiving from immigration experts and confused families
“Although this rate may pick up a little in the remaining five months, it appears at this early stage that the
overwhelming majority of overstayers will remain overstayers, despite the Minister’s hype.
The figures add to the overstayer policy concerns following the Government’s damage control dumping of Cabinet Papers
released under the Official Information Act, which revealed that the four key Departments involved in the policy all
opposed the decision.
The Ministry of Social Policy and the Department of Work and Income opposed the proposal as costly and premature on the
basis of work to date. Treasury opposed the proposal on the grounds that it would be costly, and as many overstayers
would be likely to have low skills, it would increase the gaps between Pacific Islanders and the rest, socially and
economically. Foreign Affairs and Trade opposed the proposal on grounds that are considered so sensitive, they have been
withheld from the papers.
“Remarkably, against all this advice, the Government for its own reasons was so determined to push ahead with the
overstayer policy, that it ignored all but the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs’ advice,” said Penny Webster.
“And to cut the cost, they decided to include the estimated eligible 7,000 overstayers in the annual target, therefore
cutting the number of persons able to come in under the Family and Humanitarian immigration streams.
“The policy has been unravelling from the start, with the Minister blaming officials for misleading her, a controversial
dawn deportation, and outrage from the Chinese community over the exclusion of their refugees from the Transitional
“The Minister should front up and explain why she has persisted with this rushed policy against overwhelming advice, and
why she considers officials who told her it would not resolve the overstayer problem were wrong. Immigration policy is
an important issue which needs to be dealt with sensibly and in its entirety - not in this ad hoc fashion,” concluded
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