New Zealand to change its Immigration Act

24 May 2005

The Government of New Zealand announced on 24 May that it will be making wide-ranging changes to its 18-year-old Immigration Act. Immigration Minister Paul Swain said the current law needs to be made more relevant to New Zealand's needs and the international environment.

"More people are travelling than ever before, tourism is increasingly important for New Zealand and there is growing demand for skills and labour," Swain said. "But just as important given increasing security concerns following September 11 is New Zealand's right to keep out the people we don't want and remove those who shouldn't be here."

Swain said the immigration process needs to be fast and fair, but also must protect New Zealand's interests. He emphasised New Zealand's commitment to international obligations was not in question and the section of the Act covering security risk issues would be reviewed separately.

The Department of Labour will conduct the review and will divide its work into the following areas:

Purpose and principles of immigration legislation,
Entry to New Zealand and migrant obligations,
Grant of protection in New Zealand -- such as refugees,
Review and appeal
Inter-related issues -- such as levels of decision making.

Swain said changes from the review were likely to go before Parliament within two years and were part of a wider push to attract skilled migrants, improve border security and regulate immigration agents.

"Taken together all these measures show that the government is serious about making sure our immigration system works in New Zealand's interests."