20 Jul 2018

Controversial Canadian speakers issued visas

12:37 pm on 20 July 2018

Immigration New Zealand has granted far-right activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux visas to visit New Zealand for public speaking events.

Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux

Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux Photo: Supplied / YouTube screen shot

The specific purpose work visa enables them to spend 10 days in New Zealand.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has banned the right-wing pair from speaking at council venues, a decision being challenged in court by the Free Speech Coalition.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said Immigration New Zealand's decision in no way condoned the views expressed by the pair.

He said the views were "repugnant to this government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders".

"I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand," Mr Lees Galloway said in a statement.

"However the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised the pair meet.

"The ground on which someone can be excluded from New Zealand, involves things like being involved in a terrorist organisation, being convicted of a crime or clearly having been involved in incited violence - none of those applied to these two people.

He said legally the decision was straightforward.

"Immigration New Zealand looked at that very carefully, very thoroughly, took their time to make the decision but I think it was a reasonably clear-cut decision."

Mr Lees-Galloway said neither speaker had been banned from the United Kingdom, and said there had been some confusion around this.

"To be honest I'm not exactly sure what happened with the UK but Immigration New Zealand looked at the circumstances and there was nothing that impacted their ability to enter New Zealand."

Ms Southern was previously sent a letter by Immigration New Zealand saying that her ban in the UK would affect her ability to travel to and enter New Zealand, under section 15 of the Immigration Act.

"Immigration New Zealand had a misunderstanding about exactly what the situation was at that point," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Immigration New Zealand later sent Ms Southern an updated letter advising her ban would not affect her ability.

Organiser of the speakers' tour David Pellowe, of Axiomatic Media, said he had not found a new venue.

"There's been huge problems securing a venue. We've called dozens of places and don't have time to call hundreds.

"It's proving quite a challenge to book a large suitable venue close to the date intended, when the original venue breaks its contract."

Mr Pellowe remained hopeful the event would go ahead.

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