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Inquiry into matters arising out of Immigration New Zealand

4 June 2008

The Controller and Auditor-General has decided to carry out an audit and inquiry (the inquiry) into a range of integrity concerns arising out of Immigration New Zealand (which is part of the Department of Labour). These terms of reference set out the nature and scope of the inquiry.

The inquiry is being carried out at the request of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Immigration. That request was in response to various concerns and allegations that have been discussed in the public domain recently. Some issues relate to the operations of Immigration New Zealand's Pacific Division, and incidents involving certain senior personnel. Some issues relate particularly to the conduct of Mary Anne Thompson, the former Deputy Secretary (Workforce). Some issues relate to how the concerns have been previously handled by others, including chief executives of the Department of Labour, the State Services Commissioner, and Ministers.

The inquiry will examine the following matters:

  1. the integrity and probity of immigration decision-making systems, processes, and practices within Immigration New Zealand, especially within its Pacific Division, including whether such practices generally comply with relevant law, policies, procedures, and public sector ethical standards;
  2. particular situations that raise concerns about the integrity of senior immigration staff;
  3. public service recruitment processes about Mary Anne Thompson;
  4. the awareness and management of concerns about integrity issues at Immigration New Zealand (including about Mary Anne Thompson) by:
    • the Department of Labour, and
    • the State Services Commission, and
    • Ministers; and
  5. any other issues that the Auditor-General considers relate to, or arise out of, the above matters.

Although many of the issues to be examined in this inquiry arise out of Immigration New Zealand, this inquiry is not limited to Immigration New Zealand, nor the wider Department of Labour. Where relevant, it will also include looking at the actions of others in the public sector.

The inquiry is intended to address the particular issues that have already been discussed in the public domain, but its focus will not necessarily be limited to those issues.

The inquiry will not seek to:

  • overturn immigration decisions affecting particular individuals;
  • consider the appropriateness of current immigration policy;
  • review the organisational structure or direction of Immigration New Zealand or its Pacific Division; or
  • determine criminal liability.

The Auditor-General notes that related work, by several other agencies, is also under way. This includes:

  • an investigation by the Police into Mary Anne Thompson's qualifications;
  • a report by the State Services Commission on the Department of Labour's response to concerns about immigration matters involving relatives of Mary Anne Thompson;
  • an independent review commissioned by the Department of Labour into Immigration New Zealand's Pacific Division; and
  • ongoing investigations by the Ombudsmen into complaints about decisions affecting individuals.

The Auditor-General will liaise, as necessary, with the persons managing that other work.

The inquiry will be conducted under sections 16(1) and 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001, under the Auditor-General's mandate as an independent officer of Parliament and the statutory auditor of all public entities.

The Auditor-General will report the findings of the inquiry to the House of Representatives. The Auditor-General may decide to report in stages.

Contact for enquiries

Wendy Venter, Assistant Auditor-General
Telephone (04) 917 1500

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