The costs of assessing the security risk posed by Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui are mounting and could make him the country's first $6 million man, New Zealand First MP Peter Brown said yesterday.
During parliamentary question time, Mr Brown asked Immigration Minister David Cunliffe what the total costs were in the long-running case and what he expected them to rise to.
Mr Cunliffe said the cost to the Department of Labour to this May was $916,603.09. He did not know the costs to departments he was not responsible for, but said they were considerable.
Mr Brown said he understood the total costs were more than $3 million and undeclared costs would take that closer to $4 million.
"Is it the intention to drag this matter out as long as possible to make Mr Zaoui New Zealand's first $6 million man?" he asked.
Mr Cunliffe said the Government wanted to see the case resolved as quickly as possible and his decision would be made "expeditiously" when matters were reported to him.
National MP Lockwood Smith asked if Mr Cunliffe would give an unequivocal assurance that under no circumstances would he approve access to New Zealand to any of Mr Zaoui's family.
Mr Cunliffe said he had been asked this formally twice before and had declined it twice.
"It would be inappropriate for me to pre-judge future requests on which I have not already seen supporting information."
Mr Zaoui arrived in New Zealand on a false passport in December 2002, seeking refugee status.
He spent almost two years in prison in New Zealand and was released on bail in December 2004 after a Supreme Court hearing.
The hearing is set to begin on July 9 and continue to August 10 with a break in between. A report is expected to be given to Mr Cunliffe before the end of the year.