Earlier in the month, we launched Jordan McCluskey's briefing paper on the lousy deal New Zealand passport holders are getting.
Following the briefing paper, and our presentation to the Parliamentary select committee considering a petition to reintroduce ten year passports, we've learned just how thin the justification is for the current five year passport regime.
The Department of Internal Affair's response to our request under the Official Information Act casts doubt on Internal Affairs' claim that five year passports are necessary for New Zealanders to retain visa-free status to many parts of the world.
The Department's '5 year passport' Q&A webpage still states:
What would happen if we had a ten year passport?
A longer validity period would mean fewer visa free arrangements with other countries (and potentially higher travel costs as New Zealand travellers need to apply for more visas. More delays would be a likely result because new features could only be introduced every ten years).
So we asked what counties expressed concern and what countries did New Zealanders gain visa free access because of the move to five year passports in 2005.
In recent weeks the Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs have told media that ten year passports are necessary for security. But not a single country has expressed concern with New Zealand’s old passport regime.
It appears that passport bureaucrats are inflating justifications for the existing regime rather than reflecting genuine concerns about passport security.
The advice that prompted the last government to cut the term of passports has proved to be wrong. The documents also show that officials were wrong in advice given to the Government in 2003 that Australia, the UK and the US intended introduce five year passports. All three countries have remained at ten years, with others moving from five to ten.
Come on Mr Dunne, do the right thing, cut the passport tax and reintroduce ten year passports.
Click "continue reading" to view the material released by DIA to the Taxpayers' Union.
TV One’s Breakfast this morning had the Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, interviewed about the figures provided in the briefing paper we released yesterday.
Mr Dunne told Rawdon Christie that the profits the Government has made from passports have “been returned to people via a lower fee” (click here to watch the interview).
Mr Dunne is wrong. Our paper shows that New Zealanders are getting the worst deal in the world for a passport. In fact, Mr Dunne’s is sitting on $20.8 million dollars of passport fee profits which are, in effect, a tax on getting a New Zealand passport. That isn't 'cost recovery', it's a 'cost plus' model.
Come on Mr Dunne, stop taxing Kiwis for a passport and bring us into line with the rest of the world by lowering the fees and reintroducing ten year passports.