Friday, May 25, 2018

This is corrupt

One of the unstated rules of New Zealand society is that when you deal with the government, you get treated equally, regardless of whether you are rich or poor. Or at least, that's the ideal, and we'd be disturbed to find a government agency offering better service to the rich by "virtue" of their ill-gotten gains. But that's exactly what Immigration NZ is doing to customers of a Chinese bank:

More than half of a Chinese bank's wealthy clients had their New Zealand visitor visas approved within a day in the last year after an agreement to fast-track them.

Immigration New Zealand introduced a streamlined visa process for the bank's private banking or prestigious wealth management customers two years ago.

It has since also signed a similar deal with China UnionPay for its Platinum or Diamond credit card holders.

The Bank of China said the streamlined applications had cut visa processing times by at least half, from 15 days to fewer than five days, and in the past year, more than half of its clients that had applied for visas, had them approved within one business day.


Under the agreement, those travellers no longer needed to provide evidence of onward travel from New Zealand or their financial employment status.

So, quicker processing and lower visa standards if you're rich and use particular companies. It's corrupt in all sorts of ways - both a direct attack on equal service, but also the idea that private companies get to offer better services from our government as a perk. Supposedly there's a benefit to tourism, but the intangible cost is to reduce trust in government services while establishing a culture of corruption. What next? Visa-free travel if you fly here on Air New Zealand? Immunity from prosecution if you hire Russell McVeagh as your lawyers? No need to meet building standards if you work with Fletchers?

This is corruption, pure and simple. Government services should not be bought and sold like some commercial affiliate arrangement. This deal and any others like it must be terminated.