Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dodgy as hell

One News tonight had a story on possible corruption involving everyone's favourite Labour MP, Taito Philip Field, and a Thai overstayer. DPF has a good summary of events:

1) A Thai over-stayer contacts Labour Minister Taito Philip Field for help when his wife and child were deported

2) At the meeting Field learns the over-stayer is an tiler, and asks him if he can go out and tile his house in Samoa

3) He paid the tiler somewhere between $60 and $100 a week, well below minimum pay rates in NZ. I look forward to the CTU condemning this sweatshop operation!

4) He then made a personal representation to [Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor] to grant work permits for the over-stayer and his wife.

5) The Minister granted the request, noting "It is not my normal practice to intervene in the established immigration application process, however I have decided to make an exception in this case".

[Corrected DPF's mistake; he has it as Swain, whereas TVNZ reports O'Connor]

This stinks to high heaven of an MP using his influence in exchange for a quid pro quo. Field may think nothing of it, and there may not have been any formal understanding that the job would be done cheaply as "payment", but at the very least he has taken advantage of a constituent seeking his assistance, and for that alone he should be sacked from his ministerial position. And if it can be shown that Field was offering assistance for a cheap tiling job, he shouldn't just be sacked - he should be prosecuted. Corruption and influence peddling have no place in our Parliament - a fact recognised by s 103 of the Crimes Act 1961 - and if Field corruptly demanded or obtained an effective discount on a job in exchange for lobbying a fellow Minister, he should be spending time in a cell.


From an immigration-officer visa-perspective, what I gather from the news so far is that Field bought the guy a ticket out of the country to buy him some time, thereby stopping him from being deported and hence barred from re-entry. On one hand: smells like straight exploitation. On the other: fuck, that was nice of him.

Why the government is trying to deport a tiler during a skills-shortage is another issue.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2005 09:32:00 AM

Yes, it was nice - OTOH, Field having him work cheap on his house while out of the country was poor exploitative at best, and outright corruption at worst. Even if we are charitable, it displays very poor judgement from someone who sits in Cabinet.

With politicians, its not enough for things to be above board - they must be seen to be above board. Field has failed that test, and he should be paying for it with his job.

(As for the other party, I likewise cannot understand why we are deporting skilled people during a skill shortage...)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/13/2005 09:48:00 AM

Congratulations, again, on being the first (and only so far) on the left to maintain your standards and smell corruption when you see it. And thanks for the s 103 reference.

tze ming. read the crimes act definition of bribes. Field was taking advantage. The building industry is a market. the shortage is only because supply at the prevailing price is limited. the price is low due to imported workers. deporting overstayers who undercut the price means you might find more local tilers willing to work longer hours to get the job done at a higher price that is economic for them. I speak from experience having used imported workers to skim a house when the local (Kiwi) quote was around double. It is possible to see both sides of the equation in a market.

Posted by sagenz : 9/13/2005 10:16:00 AM

I/S - agreed. In fact, you used my original wording - 'at best exploitation, at worst, corruption'. I certainly didn't mean that because it was nice, that it wasn't also exploitative (or corrupt).

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2005 10:54:00 AM

I just doubted that anyone else would bring an avoiding deportation/visa-perspective to the table (the same cannot be said for the hiring cheap migrant chippie labour perspective, it appears...)

Posted by Anonymous : 9/13/2005 11:01:00 AM

Tze Ming: sorry, I wasn't really trying to imply that.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/13/2005 11:38:00 AM

What I don't understand is why the tiler needed an NZ work permit to work in Samoa - surely he'd need a Samoan work permit?

Posted by Rich : 9/13/2005 12:41:00 PM