Michael Woodhouse has admitted being lobbied by colleague
Maurice Williamson over immigration rules for wealthy
Former Building and Construction Minister Maurice
Williamson lobbied Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse about
rule changes for wealthy foreign investors sought by
businessman and National Party donor Donghua Liu, Mr Woodhouse
Mr Woodhouse's confirmation came after he faced questions
yesterday in Parliament over his discussions with Mr Liu
about those changes in a fiery session in which Labour MPs
Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins were ejected from the House.
Mr Woodhouse has previously acknowledged meeting Mr Liu at
his Newmarket Hotel last year where they discussed
The previous year in letters to Prime Minister John Key and
then-Immigration Minister Nathan Guy, lobby group the
Construction Development Alliance - which Mr Liu belonged to
- claimed to have support from the Prime Minister for a new
"third category" in immigration rules for investors with
softer English language requirements.
A spokeswoman for Mr Woodhouse last night confirmed Mr
Williamson had spoken to the minister about the creation of
"a third investment category".
Mr Woodhouse's spokeswoman said the minister couldn't recall
whether Mr Liu's name came up during discussions with Mr
Williamson or whether those discussions took place before Mr
Woodhouse's meeting with Mr Liu. He did not know Mr Liu had
donated $22,000 to the National Party when he met him.
Mr Key has denied offering support for the the new investor
category, and, when asked about the letters in March, said:
"Interest groups can interpret the Prime Minister's interest
in a conversation as having shown support for an idea, but
that is a matter of interpretation."
Meanwhile, when asked by Mr Mallard in the House whether Mr
Liu had offered him money during their meeting, Mr Woodhouse
said no, but objected to the question.
Speaker David Carter ruled it was implying corruption, which
MPs are not allowed to do in the House, and ordered Mr
Mallard to withdraw and apologise.
Mr Hipkins interjected that he shouldn't have to, resulting
in Mr Carter ordering him out. Mr Mallard refused to withdraw
and apologise and was also ordered out.
- Adam Bennett, NZ Herald