Friday, May 16, 2008

Rotten to the core

New Zealand, and the New Zealand public service, have an admirable record for being free of corruption. Bribery is just not something we think about, and the idea of slipping an official a few hundred dollars to "assist" their decision making is as alien to us as invading countries for their oil resources.

Unfortunately, it seems the same cannot be said of the Immigration Service. TVNZ last night reported that Immigration's Pacific division had persistent problems with corruption:

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.

Even one incident of corruption is too many - but this seems to be widespread and pervasive. And it has to be stamped out.

As for Immigration, this just rubs it in: the whole department is rotten to the core. Led by a self-serving fraud, agreeing to lie in unison to prevent proper public oversight, and now taking bribes and kickbacks for favours. And they want even more power to abuse? Screw that - they can't possibly be trusted. The whole department needs a full, independent review to cut out the rot - and once that is done, it needs to be watched like a hawk to make sure it never reappears.