Visa scheme a disgrace - Peters
Wednesday 14 Nov 2012 5:22 p.m.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters (AAP)
The Government is being accused of compromising border security after it confirmed a deal has been struck with China Southern Airlines to fast track visitor visa applications.
NZ First leader Winston Peters revealed the agreement in Parliament today and said Immigration Minister Nathan Guy worked it out with the airline at "secret meetings" in April.
Mr Guy said he met the airline's representatives and there was nothing secret about it.
"Yes, there has been a deal struck with Immigration New Zealand and China Southern Airlines," he said.
"It is going to allow high net-worth individuals to come to New Zealand... there will be some checks and, of course, they will still need to get a visa and they will need to meet health and good character checks."
Mr Guy said the agreement would be rolled out and would be reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure it was robust.
Mr Peters says he has leaked emails from immigration staff which show visas will be "rubber stamped" for frequent flyers who hold the airline's gold and silver cards.
He also says he has an internal memo which warns there are risks associated with Chinese visitors.
"This is clearly an abuse of both New Zealand's border controls and the visitor visa system and it is being driven directly from the minister's office," Mr Peters said.
"It is disgraceful for the minister to confirm in Parliament that he's prepared to weaken our border security to simply attract a few more tourists."