Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay

No-one  had ever thought of  him   as  a  potential Olympic  performer  but Iain Lees-Galloway’s  back  somersault with double twist  this  week  would surely have  qualified  him.

If he  doesn’t make  it to Tokyo,  he  still  won  an award from  the  Prime Minister – he retained his job as   Immigration  Minister, despite calls from the Opposition for his resignation.

It  may  be  something he comes to regret,  for   he  now  carries  the   stigma  of a minister  who is little short of  a walking disaster,  one who can’t be left to make a decision on  his own.

He  may be   grateful  that  Deputy PM  Winston Peters  sought to defend him in the  House, although Peters in effect  gave   the  game  away  when he conceded  Lees-Galloway  had  made  a  “mistake”.

And while the   Opposition  MPs  kept  calling  for  his resignation, they   won’t be  unhappy   that  he  is still  occupying a  top  Cabinet   post,  a  permanent  reminder  of how  accident-prone  members  of the Ardern team can be.

So what was  his sin again?    Conferring residency  on  a drug-dealing criminal  who  happens to be serving a  prison sentence?  Exercising  poor  judgement?  Failing  to  read  his papers?   Blaming his  officials?

Trying to be a  humanitarian?

According to this Dom-Post report, he already had much of the “new” Interpol information he used to reverse his decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency.

A fresh Immigration New Zealand (INZ) probe into the drug smuggler found he was liable for deportation on grounds not previously considered. However, documents released under the Official Information Act show the minister would already have had access to that information. 

On page five of the 12 page case file summary, it was indicated that Sroubek was an excluded person because of his convictions in the Czech Republic. But Lees-Galloway claims he was not asked to consider convictions outside NZ.

The report goes on…

However, when a reporter pointed out that this information was in the file he received and asked why he did not include in his decision, he said: “I don’t know every single detail of the Immigration Act. I had been asked to consider his liability for false identification and for the conviction in NZ. Whilst it was material to the overall decision, I didn’t look at that and say, ‘aha, he should be an excluded person’. That wasn’t something I was considering at that time.

He said he knew what is in the file, and that Sroubek had been convicted, but at the time that information that was not relevant to making the overall decision.  When asked if he did not understand the Immigration Act , he said that was not the case.

National’s  Michael  Woodhouse  says:

“The Minister knew from the very beginning that  Sroubek had left NZ multiple times, was wanted for grievous bodily harm against police officers as well as in relation to a murder, had committed passport fraud and was in prison for drug smuggling.

“It is beyond credible for him to now say it is new information that has caused him to change his mind. The convictions detailed in the initial briefing were more than enough to deport him.Lees-Galloway has jeopardised the safety of the NZ public, opened up the likelihood of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and years of court battles, and he must go.

Labour clearly  thinks  the voting  public   will  soon forget  the  Lees-Galloway  “mistake”.

But  sticking   in the memory  of   those   who  witnessed  the   urgent   debate  in  Parliament  on  Wednesday afternoon will be  the  look  on  the faces  of   the minister’s   colleagues  as  he  mounted his own defence.

Perhaps the  most telling of  all  was the contribution  from the   Green  MP, Chloe Swarbrick.  She  spoke  for  less than 30 seconds

2 thoughts on “Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay

  1. Never trust someone who uses the archaic term “whilst”. Lees-Galloway should have been sacked for utter incompetence. The fact that he remains Minister lowers the threshold for ministerial performance and reasons to be dismissed, demoted or sacked to almost rock bottom.


  2. One of the many reasons I think that Jacinta Ardern is not up to being prime minister is a unwillingness to get rid of ministers just to kill a political sore such as this


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