22 Jul 2020

Iain Lees-Galloway: a quick look at his background

1:20 pm on 22 July 2020

Iain Lees-Galloway has been dismissed as a Minister after a 12-month-long inappropriate relationship with a former staffer came to light.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway in RNZ's Auckland studio.

Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo: RNZ

In government, he held the ministerial portfolios of Workplace Relations and Safety, Immigration and ACC and he was deputy leader of the House.

He will continue to serve as an MP until the election, when he will stand down. He will not be standing again.

The staff member Lees-Galloway had a relationship with was someone who had previously worked in Lees-Galloway's office and had been based in one of his agencies.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said given his role "there are circumstances here that I feel reach a threshold" to take action.

His profile on the Beehive website states: "Iain's aim is to create an employment relations framework that ensures working people get a fair share of a growing economy while workplaces are productive and safe."

Lees-Galloway was born in South Auckland and grew up on a beef farm near Waiuku.

Later, he moved to Palmerston North to study and settle down eventually. He is married with three children.

He has been MP for Palmerston North since 2008. He won the seat in the last election with more than 18,000 votes, compared to the nearly 12,000 of National Party runner up Adrienne Pierce, increasing his share by about 3 percent on 2014.

The seat has been held by a Labour candidate since 1978, but the electorate's party votes in 2017 were nearly an even split between the two major parties with 14,648 votes for Labour and 14,276 for National.

Immigration New Zealand has been accused of destroying the dreams of migrant workers, students, family members because it often takes several months - and sometimes more than a year - to process visas.

During an Immigration New Zealand restructure, redundancy payouts to staff cost taxpayers almost $8 million and resulted in only half of the promised savings.

In October 2019, Lees-Galloway overturned a policy criticised as racist, by dropping a requirement for African and Middle Eastern refugees to have a family link to New Zealand. Africa and Middle East regions will have their refugee allocation increased from 14 percent to 15 percent.

Last year, he came under fire for his decision to grant residency to convicted Czech drug smuggler Karel Sroubek.

He was accused of not reading the complete file and subsequently having to reverse the residency decision after the Opposition began drip-feeding information to the media about Sroubek's chequered past.

Sroubek is in jail and faces deportation after being convicted of importing almost 5kg of ecstasy.

Then in another move dubbed 'Sroubek 2.0' by the National Party, Lees-Galloway granted residency to a man with multiple drink-driving convictions, saying they had been in the country for 20 years and had kept out of trouble for a long time.

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