Patrick Gower: NZ Govt 'hopeless' in response to Trump ban

OPINION: In the five days since Donald Trump issued his travel ban, the Government has looked hopeless.

It has failed to clarify what Mr Trump's orders mean for New Zealand citizens originally from the banned countries.

Take, for example, Ayob Aghazi. He's a direct victim of Donald Trump's travel ban.

The West Auckland electrician has lived here for 17 years. He's a dual citizen of both New Zealand and Iran - which is one of the banned countries - and he has no idea whether he can travel to the United States using his Kiwi passport.

"I want to know [that] if we go travelling, we are safe," he told Newshub.

The Government still has no idea if New Zealand's dual citizens will get an exemption from the ban.

New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom are all part of an intelligence alliance with the US known as Five Eyes.

So far New Zealand is the only one of the Five Eyes nations whose dual citizens are waiting for confirmation of an exemption from Trump's travel ban.

Unusually, Prime Minister Bill English did not front for his usual press conference after Cabinet today.

In the five days since the order was issued, the Government has only issued a statement saying that the embassy in Washington is continuing to "work urgently to gain further information".

And Mr English's opponents are stepping into the vacuum.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the Prime Minister needed to "step up and show leadership".  

"He's actually got to take a stand for New Zealand and say the whole policy is wrong."

The ban is causing chaos around the world - one Australian teenager was initially denied a visa to attend a camp at the United States space centre. Australian-born, his parents are from Iran, giving him dual citizenship.

But Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was able to get a result, confirming with the White House that Australian passport holders were able to travel to the US, even if they held dual nationality.

New Zealand's ambassador in Washington is Tim Groser, who is clearly failing to break through. The US embassy in Wellington is also silent.

So in the Beehive a new Prime Minister waits, for a phone call from The Donald.

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