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Immigration Service- Update Number 11

May 15, 2008

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TVNZ had 2 items this evening on the Immigration Scandal. One was about Ms Thompson and her qualifications the other was about problems in the Immigration Services Pacific Division. This post discusses the problems in the Pacific Division.

The video clip is linked here or it can be accessed from the TVNZ site here.

Text comment follows:-

The troubled Immigration Service is again under fire with news staff at its Pacific division have been involved in a raft of offences including bribery and fraud.

It follows the resignation this week of Immigration boss Mary Anne Thompson after ONE News revealed she had used her position to get family into the country.

ONE News has obtained shocking figures under the Official Information Act that show Immigration’s Pacific division has been rife with dodgy dealings for years.

The Pacific division decides the fate of thousands of Pacific Islanders desperate to live in New Zealand. Instead, it has been a disaster, besieged with dishonest and corrupt staff.

“I think that unfortunately it’s the extreme end of the culture that I referred to as a nod nod wink culture,” says Richard Small, immigration lawyer.

Now in an earlier post, part of which Adam reproduces below, we can see Ms Thompson going public on how many of these issues were being tackled under her leadership.

Immigration Scandal-Update 4

Looking for the Oughton Report, which supposedly released by the Labour Dept, Adam has as yet been unable to find, he came across this item, which he had previously missed, from the NZ Herald on May 3 2008. This is discussed below.

It has led Adam to conclude that there are further questions which he hopes the inquiry underway will address.

Some of these questions are amplifications of issues Adam has discussed in prior posts.

Some are new.

In March 2006, Immigration Service head Mary Anne Thompson went public about an investigation into 92 cases of staff misconduct.

“The department does not tolerate wrongdoing and all our employees know that. We take allegations very seriously and investigate them all,” she said.

The problems, she said, included theft, undeclared criminal convictions and inappropriate processing of family member applications.

So previously, the head of the Immigration Service had been telling the public about the strict standards of probity in force within the department and what from her remarks could be construed by the public as a zero tolerance approach.

The OneNews report continued:-

Around 60 people work at the Pacific division. But ONE News has discovered in just three years from 2004, 19 cases of serious offences were proven against staff there, including theft, bribery and fraud.

From those 19 cases, nine people were fired or resigned and three were referred to police.

So it would be reasonable to assume then that these 19 cases formed part of the 92 mentioned in the report excerpted in Adam’s earlier post.

A reasonable assumption might be that some of those involved committed multiple offences, so let us thus assume the 19 offences were committed by only 9 people.

  • Now a first question might well be, why were any of these people allowed to resign?
  • Were any of those who resigned in receipt of a pay out for remainder of contract?
  • What happened in respect of those cases referred to police and why only 3 referred?
  • How many of these people were recruited by Ms Thompson or her appointee Kerupi Tavita (Group Manager for Pacific and refugees) and his appointee Mai Malaulau ( responsible for Pacific Division)?

Adam’s initial post on this issue discusses questions concerning these 2 people in depth and their positions and relationships are described in this Stuff item.

The TVNZ item finishes thus:-

The Department of Labour has launched a review of the Pacific division which was the brainchild of its disgraced boss Mary Anne Thompson.

A former Pacific division employee told ONE News last month that she felt pressured by senior management to break the rules.

“You sort of don’t want to rock the boat, do your job even [though] you know it was wrong, so I did it,” Sarah Flesher said.

The Pacific community has long complained about staff at the division.

Last year, the Residency Review Board was scathing about how the division handled many of its cases. It listed a raft of failures including unfairness, inaccuracy and breaches of justice.

“I believe that hundreds of Pacific families have potentially not been given access to correct policy or correct processes,” Small said last December.

That is hardly surprising given the activities of some of the staff they had to deal with.

So the Pacific Division established by Thompson and overseen by one of her inner circle and his appointee was responsible for some 18% of transgressions against policy and the law. That is those cases which are known about and in respect of which some action has been taken.

Now we might then want to know the answers to the following questions, amongst many others, viz:-

  • Where within the Immigration Service were the other cases included in the 92 mentioned in the excerpt above?
  • Did the 92 in fact include the 19 in the Pacific division?
  • What action was taken in respect of the other cases?
  • What was the nature of all these cases?
  • How many staff were fired or allowed to resign?
  • Why were staff allowed to resign?
  • Were any staff paid off?
  • How many cases were referred to police and what was the outcome of those referrals?
  • Have the code of ethics and conduct been revised to assist in eliminating such conduct?
  • Has the disciplinary policy and process been tightened to enable prompt and decisive action to be taken against other transgressors?
  • However, are there other cases which have yet to come to light?
  • Further, given the comments of the Residency Review Board why was action not taken earlier to see what was going on in the Pacific Division?
  • What action has been taken to review policy and procedure across the Immigration Service with a view to benchmarking the service, its staff and processes against other organisations?
  • If this has not been done, why has it not been done?
  • What was the CEO of Labour doing all this time, after all he was Thompson’s boss?
  • Surely as CEO he should have been monitoring the actions taken by the Immigration Service in response to the Residency review Board report?
  • What was Thompson telling Christopher Blake her boss?
  • Why was Blake so tolerant of the shortcomings of the Immigration Service?
  • What did Thompson’s annual performance appraisal say about her performance in her role, in each of the years she was in office?
  • Was Thompson paid any performance bonus in any of the years she was responsible for Immigration?
  • If so on what grounds were such payments made?
  • Given what appears to have been happening in the Pacific Division are the grounds for concern in respect of other areas within the Immigration Service?
  • What action is being taken to review policy and procedures to reduce the risk of these breaches/offences recurring?
  • Are Immigration Service recruitment policies at fault?
  • How does the record of the Immigration Service compare with other departments within government.

Adam repeats his call for a proper judicial inquiry rather than reliance on an internal SSC inquiry.

AN external inquiry if necessary to ensure the the full extent of what has been going on within the Immigration Service and the Department of Labour is brought out into the open and the suppurating boil that is this organisation is lanced once and for all.

Nothing more or less will do.

It should be done now, with an interim report to be issues within 3 months from now, or sooner.

This is needed to restore confidence in the public service.

***************************

Other posts by Adam on this matter

Immigration Scandal

Update 1

Update 2

Update 3

Update 4

Update 5

Update 6 (essentially a note of an event – not a detailed comment)

Update 7

Update 8 – similar to Number 6

Update 9

Update 10

Update 12

SEE UPDATE 13 for latest

See Update 14 for latest

See Update 15 for latest

Update 16 – New Inquiry Announced

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One Comment
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