The National Party has played fast and loose with the facts during its campaign to deny an entry visa to the American LGBTQ activist Chelsea Manning. First, National’s immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse claimed “other countries” had refused Manning entry, because of her previous felony conviction for leaking classified documents.
In fact, those “other countries” consisted only of Canada, which did refuse Manning entry back in September 2017… but (crucially) Woodhouse neglected to mention that Canada had then reversed its position in May 2018, and issued Manning with a visa that enabled her to speak at the 7th annual C2 business conference in Montreal later that month. So… rather than being an example of why Manning should be denied entry, Canada is actually an example of why she should be issued a visa to speak here. Well done, Woodhouse!
Secondly – and as others have pointed out – New Zealand has previously issued visas to convicted felons. The notable examples include Nelson Mandela in 1995, and the convicted “Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort, who was granted a visa during the term of the National government in 2014 so that he could deliver a motivation talk here – and thereby “make money from his crimes” to use Woodhouse’s charming turn of phrase. The reason for the Belfort entry lies in the fine print of the immigration rules:
[An Immigration NZ] spokesman said Mr Belfort was yet to apply for a visa, but he was eligible because his sentence was less than five years and the conviction was more than 10 years ago. Only those sentenced to more than five years are ineligible for a visa for life.