Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway agrees with 'last resort' report

11:17 am on 10 October 2019

Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the government will not be ignoring the report into the decision making process around the Karel Sroubek case.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

A review into the handling of the convicted Czech drug smuggler's residency case has recommended more decision-making power be given to Immigration New Zealand staff and the minister should intervene in deportation cases only as a last resort.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said there have been concerns for a long time around the process.

"If you go back to 2014, the previous government received a report from John Beaglehole that made very, very similar recommendations," he said.

"The previous government ignored those recommendations."

He said the current government would not ignore the latest report.

"It's important that we look at all aspects of this decision making process. I have a part to play in that and I have made changes to my part of the process as necessary," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

"I think it's correct that ministerial intervention should be used sparingly and as a last resort," he said.

But immigration lawyer Richard Small warns against giving Immigration officials more power, saying they're more inclined to back each other's decisions.

He said it's a bad idea to change policy based on outlier cases like Sroubek's.

"There were particular problems to the Sroubek case that are particular to high-profile cases, but it's important we don't throw the baby out with the bath water," Mr Small said.

"We need to continue to have reasonable access to some independent outside of Immigration New Zealand. I'm in favour of keeping access to the minister and being very clear about what 'last resort' means."

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