Labour MP for South Dunedin Clare Curran has slammed the
impending closure of the Dunedin immigration office as another
example of the Government's ''dismissive attitude'' towards the
On Tuesday, the Women Across Cultures immigration advocacy
group met with Ms Curran to discuss their concerns about the
closure of the immigration office.
The office is to be closed from October 2013 and replaced
with a privately run visa application centre.
Ms Curran said the meeting was the first time she had heard
about the issue, but she was disturbed about the closure of
''I'm very disturbed to hear that yet again Dunedin is losing
a service. It is another example of this Government's
dismissive attitude towards Dunedin,'' she said. National had
promised not to cut any frontline services but their
stewardship had seen cuts to many services, including
''Housing New Zealand turning into an 0800 number in
Dunedin'', Ms Curran said.
She was most disturbed by the fact that the closure was being
described as beneficial for immigrants when it clearly was
not, she said.
For many immigrants English was a second language and they
needed to have face-to-face communication with an immigration
official in order to make themselves understood when applying
for visas, she said. Completing a form electronically would
often be confusing for them.
She would be writing to the Minister of Immigration and
pushing for Immigration New Zealand to take another look at
keeping the office open, she said.
National list MP in Dunedin Michael Woodhouse said while he
was sad for the staff whose jobs would be affected, he did
not believe there would be any reduction in levels of service
for Dunedin's immigrants.
The Dunedin immigration office had been very small for some
time and even student visas for international students
wanting to study at the University of Otago were no longer
dealt with in Dunedin.
''The vast majority [of migrants wanting to come to Dunedin]
aren't dealt with in Dunedin. Often applications are made
online,'' he said.
''This is an evolution of a continuing trend throughout New
Zealand to try to deliver services online.''
In response to a letter from Women Across Cultures about the
closure, a letter from Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull's office said
''the mayor is sympathetic to the issues you have raised in
your letter and will write to the Minister and Associate
Minister of Immigration outlining your concerns''.
When Women Across Cultures contacted the mayor's office a
second time, it was told ''the mayor has taken advice,
consulted with various parties and feels that there is
nothing to be gained by pursuing this issue further at the
moment'', but that the mayor would ''be kept informed on this