Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cronyism in action

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy is trumpeting his new scheme to encourage Chinese tourism. But look a little closer, and it begins to look a little shabby: a deal with a specific airline to exempt their frequent flyer members from normal visa requirements. The underlying reason? Because they're rich - Immigration thinks that frequent flyer status is an indicator of their ability to meet character and funding requirements.

...or at least some of them do. As Winston Peters laid out in parliament today, Immigration's Intelligence, Risk and Integrity Division raised serious concerns, essentially that this would allow wealthy organised criminals to bypass normal checks, and that the airline in question has a poor record of compliance with providing advance passenger data. In other words, a bad idea, and not people we should be giving sweetheart deals to. Which raises the question: why is the government going ahead with it? what did China Southern offer Guy in their secret meeting in April?

This also gives us a troubling image of how the government sets policy: after secret meetings with lobbyists. First Snapper, now this. And it makes you wonder how much other policy is being set by and for cronies of the National Party.