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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.
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.
Following yesterday's submission to the Government Administration Select Committee looking at the issue of ten year passports, and release of Jordan McCluskey's briefing paper showing that a New Zealand passport is the most expensive in the world on a per year basis, the PM isn't ruling out change.
TVNZ's reported John Key's comments that the Government is 'constantly having a look at' the passport term and position and 'the arguments for keep it at five years are about security'.
We don't accept that. Canada and the Netherlands, countries which have very similar visa-free requirements around the world have both recently introduced 10 year passports. Is their passport security less than ours??
This morning the Taxpayers' Union is appearing before the Government Administration Select Committee, in support of a petition to reintroduce ten year passports for New Zealanders.
We will also be presenting a briefing paper by Jordan McCluskey, 'Sky High: Briefing paper on passport affordability'.
Contrary to statements made by the Government, most of our trading partners issue ten, not five year passports.
In 2005 the Government introduced biometric technology to passports, made them more expensive and reduced their validity from ten to five years.
Our research shows that the New Zealand passport is now the most expensive in the world on a per year basis. Even if the New Zealand government issued ten year passports, at current prices, New Zealanders would still be paying more than citizens in most countries with whom we traditionally compare ourselves.
Contrary to the Government’s claims that five year passports are necessary for security, New Zealand is swimming against the tide, with Canada, China and the Netherlands all recently increasing their passport validities to ten years.
Kiwi travellers are paying more and getting less. We’re calling on the new Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne to do the sensible thing and reintroduce ten-year passports.
The research suggests that current regime isn’t about security, it’s about raising money for the Government.
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