A bill designed to ensure prisoners cannot slip out the country the way Phillip John Smith did has been passed by Parliament.
The convicted murderer and child sex offender acquired a passport under his birth name, Traynor, and was on temporary release when he flew to Rio de Janeiro in November 2014.
He was captured and returned but the way he escaped sent shock waves through the system.
The Enhancing Identity Verification and Border Processes Legislation Bill, which passed its third reading 104-14 yesterday, was the result of an independent inquiry into Smith’s escape.
Justice Minister Amy Adams said the way Smith was able to leave the country was totally unacceptable.
“This bill will ensure agencies tasked with managing offenders and monitoring our borders have the right information at the right time,” she said.
“It gives them real time access to identity information that is unalterable and up to date.”
The bill made sure offenders and other high-risk individuals could not leave New Zealand without permission.
It also authorised the sharing of identity information between justice, border and other agencies and gave them access to key identity information such as the births, deaths and marriages database.
Labour criticised the Government for taking so long to get the bill through Parliament.
“Smith escaped three years ago; we should have passed this bill two years ago,” justice spokesman Andrew Little said.
Only the Greens opposed the bill.
“I see very little in it that would have stopped Phillip John Smith escaping,” Green Party MP David Clendon said. NZN