Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Immigration Minister lobbied by Liu on rules

Chinese businessman asked Woodhouse for new investment category.

Donghua Liu. Photo / Richard Robinson
Donghua Liu. Photo / Richard Robinson

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has confirmed that he met with Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, and heard his requests for a change in immigration policy.

Mr Woodhouse said Mr Liu - who was involved in National MP Maurice Williamson's resignation - lobbied him in April or May at the businessman's Newmarket hotel.

The minister said Mr Liu lobbied him to change the rules of the business migrant scheme.

"We traversed a range of ... issues about how the investor category could be improved, and I took on board those issues."

Mr Liu was seeking a new immigration category in which non-English speakers could invest less than the $10 million threshold.

The minister told reporters that while the investment categories were under review, he had no plans to lower the threshold of the Investor Plus scheme.

"We've undergone a review of the investor categories and we've found that by and large they're working very well.

"There are some possibilities for improving the way in which the categories work ... but no decisions have been made."

Mr Woodhouse said any changes to the scheme would focus on "the way in which people invest funds, where they invest funds, and how long they need to spend in the country".

This could include extending the scheme to migrants who invested in the Canterbury rebuild.

Mr Liu gained residency through the Investor Plus scheme, which was required for non-English speaking migrants to qualify as business migrants.

The Herald has previously reported that his plans for a $70 million development in Newmarket would go ahead following "improvements to New Zealand's business migrant rules".

Mr Liu hired professional consultants to lobby ministers to lower the threshold. When he was unsuccessful in getting government to relax the rules, the development stalled.

Mr Williamson lobbied for Mr Liu to gain citizenship, and it was granted in 2010.

The National MP resigned on Thursday after it was revealed that he contacted police about Mr Liu's domestic violence charges in January.

Mr Woodhouse also said he discussed immigration issues at a National Party fundraiser which was attended by Chinese migrants.

He said he spoke about immigration policy at the November event "as I do at just about everywhere else in the country".

Donghua Liu

2005: Chinese businessman Donghua Liu gained NZ residency by investing $10 million through the Investor Plus scheme.

2010: Granted citizenship against official advice, after lobbying by former minister Maurice Williamson.

2011-2013: Lobbied ministers to lower $10 million threshold to qualify as business migrant.

Nov 2013: Charged with domestic assault.

January: Williamson calls police to inquire about police charges.

May: Williamson resigns for appearing to interfere with police case.

- NZ Herald

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