move2nz will be on TV tomorrow night, if you get a chance tune in!
TV One has been interested for a while: in September ‘09 hearing about our story reporter Kim Vinnell put in an Official Information request to the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) asking why they had attacked me and move2nz.
She was told at the time they would not give out information on individual cases and the Authority’s official media response attempted to downplay the situation with misinformation referencing complaints which the IAA has now apparently ‘lost’.
On Tuesday Kim telephoned to see how we were getting on 15 months later, what had happened with the investigation through the Ombudsman and whether we would be prepared to publicly talk about it.
“Yes!” we said.
With months dragging by, the Authority refusing to meet with us and no resolution in sight now seems like a good time to start speaking out about this injustice and abuse of power. Let the Department and Ministers understand that we will not be silenced through threats and bullying and that we will get to the bottom of this.
So yesterday the TV One News Crew came to our house for an interview about what had happened to us at the hands of the IAA, their attack, failure to explain their actions, how it affected us and what we have discovered since through the Official Information Act.
Apparently the IAA has refused to be interviewed on the basis that we have a complaint against them before the government’s Ombudsman. This is totally ridiculous as the complaint and investigation relate to the IAA’s failure to release information and so should be no barrier to discussing this issue. We haven’t entered an official complaint against them for their unexplained actions yet so this looks like avoidance behavior to me.
I am not surprised the IAA have refused to take part as they will not want to have to explain that the only active papers in their file related not to any illegal activity, but to my appearance on TV news in July 2009 criticising the Immigration Minister.
Free speech is not supposed to be a crime in New Zealand.
We have proof that the Authority’s attack was completely unjustified, without a shred of evidence, sign of any investigation or any reason at all beyond speaking out in the media.
However their actions caused:
- The complete destruction of NZ’s most effective settlement support service;
- Damage to our hard-earned international reputation which was shredded;
- The end of our relationship with the immigration department as they believed the IAA’s accusations;
- Devastation to the website which funded our free services through loss of our sponsors, advertising and other income;
- Huge personal debts as we fought to cover the organisations costs, refusing to walk away and fighting bankruptcy;
- Months of fear that we would lose everything including our home;
- We became virtual recluses for 9 months fearing any contact with migrants might be illegal and see me sent to jail;
- Tammy suffered badly from panic attacks and had to stop work for months;
- Stress that put a strain on our marriage and family lives;
- And placing us in the terrible position of having to say to desperate people who came to us for help that we couldn’t do anything.
The only reason we didn’t lose everything was because we worked like crazy to get through this and keep move2nz running.
We will continue to fight until we get answers, justice and an apology. The Authority, rather than making migrants safer has been actively working to make them more vulnerable, removing any independent support including many others who used to make a real difference.
The interview will be shown on TV One 6pm News tomorrow (Friday 15th Oct). I will also add a link on move2nz.com so this can be viewed online for all of you not in NZ or who miss the report.
Hopefully soon we will have some movement on this crazy situation which has dragged out for over 15 months!