Maurice Williamson's interference in the police case involving businessman Donghua Liu is a sackable offence.
A minister advocating on someone's behalf to the police is quite a different matter to advocating to the Immigration Service for someone to be given residency.
The Immigration work is an accepted part of the work an MP, especially constituency MPs, who are often confronted with cases where the rules don't accommodate deserving cases.
It has been a long-standing practice of various Governments to give the Associate Immigration Minister discretion to make final judgments on cases. The wisdom of the discretionary power resting with a minister is debated from time to time, as it has been in the wake of the Williamson-Liu case, and former Associate Minister Shane Jones using his discretion in the Bill Liu case, but that is another matter.
There is not and never has been any discretion of the Government involving police work - quite the opposite.
The clear separation between the Government of the day and police decisions over charges and prosecutions is recognized as an essential element of an ethical state.
It is what contributes to New Zealand's top equal ranking in the world with Denmark by Transparency International in its latest ratings.
Ministers, MPs, celebrities, heavies, whoever, have no place using their position to try to influence an outcome of a case, unless it is done transparently.
It would be no less appropriate for Police Minister Anne Tolley to pick up the phone to discuss a case with the police than it would be for her to pick up the phone and call a judge about a case before the courts.
It would be a gross violation of process. The same goes for Maurice Williamson.
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