Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

MPs clash over sick Fijian

Kaye critical of Labour but says lack of waiver means she can't discuss immigration case

Fijian kidney patient Sanil Kumar is being forced to leave NZ today. Photo / Richard Robinson
Fijian kidney patient Sanil Kumar is being forced to leave NZ today. Photo / Richard Robinson

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye says Labour is misleading the public on the case of a seriously ill Fijian migrant but she cannot respond because she does not have a privacy waiver.

Sanil Kumar, 30, will leave New Zealand today after the minister declined to intervene in his case.

His visa expired in July but he has renal disease and wants to stay in Auckland, where he is on daily dialysis, until he can get a kidney transplant.

Labour's immigration spokesman, Rajen Prasad, said New Zealand should show compassion because Fiji did not provide transplants and renal care was scarce.

Ms Kaye confirmed she would not intervene and said she was limited in what she could say because Mr Kumar had declined to give her a privacy waiver to discuss his case. Dr Prasad, on the other hand, had been given a waiver.

The minister said: "I took the rare step of writing to Dr Prasad ... confirming some material facts including information about the availability of dialysis in Fiji and the actual costs to the taxpayer of all treatment for Mr Kumar.

"That is why I am very disappointed that Dr Prasad continues to make inaccurate statements about this case. Such statements and inaccurate comparisons with unrelated cases may affect the integrity of our immigration system."

Dr Prasad said the minister had based her decision on advice from the Ministry of Health, which told her that local patients in Fiji could get three months of free treatment, after which they would need to find a donor or pay for their care.

He said Mr Kumar had raised the $130,000 required for a transplant and had family members who were willing to donate a kidney.

Immigration officials have previously said Mr Kumar could get a temporary visa to return for treatment once he had raised the money - as long as he was not deported first.

Immigration New Zealand fraud and compliance manager Bill Naik said Mr Kumar had already incurred significant healthcare debts of atleast $30,000 and his treatmentwas costing $1500 a month.

He had exhausted his appeal rights and had been given a number of opportunities to leave voluntarily and avoid deportation. His family had booked him on a flight today and he had been told it was his final opportunity to avoid being deported.

Mr Kumar, who lives in Glendene, did not have his visa renewed because Immigration New Zealand said his skills as a metal tradesman were not in demand. He challenged this, saying he had not been replaced at his former job despite the position being vacant for eight months.

- NZ Herald

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