Shane Jones used to be the head honcho of the Waitangi Fisheries Commission, so he's probably seen a red herring or two in his time. And her certainly tossed one out there last night; 3News reports:
As a minister, Mr Jones signed off on Mr Yan's application to become a New Zealand citizen, despite officials telling him not to.“I was told the execution of this man… that he would be executed… which is the reason the officials gave for him not wanting to go back to China.”Mr Jones said declining it would have been like signing a death warrant.Mr Jones says he was told that Mr Yan would be “jailed, executed and his organs harvested” if he was sent back to China.
Let's do some basic fact-checking. Did officials from the DIA tell Mr Jones that, or did they tell Jones that Mr Liu had told them that? There's a small but very significant difference between official advice and hearsay. And interestingly, the DIA paperwork recommending that Liu's application be declined makes no mention of this awful possibility; read it for yourself here, now that it is in the public domain.
But there's another aspect to Shane's red herring. Even if he had declined Bill Liu's application for New Zealand citizenship as recommended by the DIA officials, Liu would not have had to leave New Zealand. That's because he was a permanent resident, having been granted residence status in 2002. Permanent residents enjoy most of the rights and privileges of NZ citizens, includingthe right to vote, access to free or subsidised legal and health services and education. The major difference is that they do not hold a New Zealand passport.
As we have blogged previously, Immigration New Zealand officials asked David Cunliffe to revoke Liu's residence status. Cunliffe declined to do so, ordering a further investigation which was still proceeding when the citizenship matter was dealt with by Shane Jones. Before Liu could have been returned to China, "jailed, executed and had his organs harvested" his permanent residence status would have had to be revoked. He would then have been served with a removal order, which would doubtless have been contested, appealed, and stalled in the Courts for possibly a number of years.
The notion that Bill Liu was in immediate peril, and that Shane Jones saved his life by granting him New Zealand citizenship is patently absurd. Nonetheless, Shane Jones has thrown the red herring out to the media, and 3News appears to have swallowed it, bones and all.
If anything, Shane Jones' revelation from last night has muddied the waters in this case even more. Then there's the none-too-small matter of the involvement of Shane and Daniel Phillips. We don't propose to detail that further just at the moment, as DPF has done an excellent summation at his place. Suffice to say that each question answered by Shane Jones raises fresh questions, and we are no closer to knowing just what happened.
An inquiry into this issue is needed, as soon as Bill Liu's passport fraud trial has ended. For the sake of bipartisanship, it ought be requested by both John Key and David Shearer so that both can have input into the Terms of Reference. Only then might we discover whether the perception of a New Zealand passport being for sale is real or imagined.