Iain Lees-Galloway is toast

Photoshopped image credit: Boondecker

Derek Cheng opines: quote.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says trust and confidence in immigration services have been damaged, but the bigger problem is whether he and the Prime Minister have been damaged.

And he has done nothing to counter that view.

He was already on the back foot after admitting he made his decision to grant residency to Karel Sroubek in about 45 minutes and without reading the entire 398-page case file.

It’s not so much that this was improper – it was the usual way ministers decided immigration cases. But the perception is of a minister being less than diligent in letting a drug-smuggler with a history of violence and gang associations walk the streets of New Zealand.

It also turned out that Sroubek, who claimed to be scared for his life if he were deported, had been back to the Czech Republic in 2009, and that the Minister was oblivious to this information, even though it was in a public court document.

And the Minister’s decision today that Sroubek should be deported on supposedly new grounds leaves himself open to further political attack, because?the key information was already in the original 12-page summary. The minister had apparently granted a reprieve to Sroubek while staring at information that showed Sroubek should have been denied entry from the beginning. end quote.

So, in his supposed wrangling with this case, the immigration minister not only failed to read the entire report, as he should have, but he didn’t even read the 12 page summary?

This is a minister on top of his game. Right? quote.

Jacinda Ardern has had to wear some of the damage after she backed Lees-Galloway from the beginning, when she invited the public to “read between the lines”.

She backed away as the debacle continued to unfold, but came back into the fray by insisting that the Immigration NZ review be reported back before the three-week deadline – only to then have to sit back while four weeks floated by. end quote.

If the sheer incompetence was bad enough, the supercilious ‘trust us we know what we are doing, and you, the great unwashed, will not understand’ attitude was the hardest thing to bear about this shambolic case. There were no extenuating circumstances. Sroubek should never have been considered for a visa from the very beginning, and the smug, know-it-all attitude of Jacinda and Lees-Galloway was both outrageous and insulting. quote.

In the interim, as Lees-Galloway kept silent because of possible future legal action, National filled the void as Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett, Michael Woodhouse and Mark Mitchell all stepped up with bombshell allegations. An alleged burglary on a house Sroubek had a financial interest in. Threatening phone calls to Sroubek’s estranged wife. A witness protection programme after an encounter with Sroubek. end quote.

As they should. Even the fawning media could not ignore the incompetency in this case. quote.

Lees-Galloway doesn’t know every section of the Immigration Act. Officials told him that Sroubek was liable for deportation because of his drug-smuggling conviction and for using a false identity – nothing about potentially being an excluded person who should never have been allowed into the country. end quote.

The trouble is, we expect out immigration minister to know the Immigration Act. Isn’t he supposed to refer to it all of the time?

I can’t help wondering if there is more to this case. Pressure was put on the minister to grant Sroubek residency because of his connections, perhaps?

Iain Lees-Galloway threw a number of officials under a bus over this. But the public perception is clear. The minister didn’t do his job properly and was prepared to let a drug dealing wife beater, who came into the country on a false passport, have permanent residence. It was only because of the media and the tenacity of the opposition, that the minister had a change of heart.