New Zealanders now know which Minister approved tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s citizenship, and when this happened, but the Government’s response is throwing up more questions than they appear willing to answer, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Ian Lees-Galloway.
“We now know that Nathan Guy did grant citizenship under exceptional circumstances, but is refusing to front up and explain what these exceptional circumstances were. This raises yet more questions that must be answered:
“Why did the Minister believe that granting New Zealand citizenship to Mr Thiel was be in the public interest because of exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature?
“What does New Zealand gain from fast-tracking Mr Thiel citizenship that the country wouldn’t have gained when he was granted permanent residence?
“What does Mr Thiel stand to gain from being a citizen rather than a permanent resident? It’s not unreasonable to think that a reason might be that it’s easier to purchase sensitive land without making an application to the Overseas Investment Office.
“New Zealanders deserve answers so that we’re confident that foreigners, regardless of their wealth or influence, aren’t being fast-tracked to citizenship without proper process,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.
Further questions to be answered include:
How many other section 9 citizenship applications have been granted since 2008 – and what were the reasons for granting them? How many applications have been granted where the applicant was not ordinarily resident in New Zealand, and what were the reasons for granting them?
What information was presented to Mr Guy by Immigration and DIA about Mr Thiel? What questions did Nathan Guy ask of officials in his deliberations?
What discussions took place with cabinet colleagues about Mr Theil's application? Who else was aware of his citizenship application?
Who was the agent/representative used by Mr Thiel in his application? Has the person represented anyone else provided with a grant of citizenship under section 9?
What methods does DIA use to assess any section 9 applications - and what profile does DIA give to income, wealth, or investment opportunity in relation to an individual’s assessment?