Immigration Minister to reconsider Sroubek residency decision

Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced that he would reconsider the decision to grant residency to illegal immigrant and convicted drug importer Karel Sroubek after National brought up ‘new information’ in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had suggested that media ‘read between the lines’ on the decision and it was assumed that residency was granted because Sroubek feared for his safety if he returned. However it has been revealed that he has returned to the Czech Republic voluntarily since coming to New Zealand. This suggests that the safety concerns may have been overstated, and he may not have informed officials of his travel.

Both Lees-Galloway and  have pointed their fingers at immigration officials for not providing complete information.

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Hon Simon Bridges: Why did her Government grant residency to Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, to correctly categorise the decision that was made, my understanding is that he already had residency, albeit in an incorrect name.

Hon Simon Bridges: What is her response to the Dominion Post this morning, which said, “So yes, prime minister, we have read between the lines. Our reading of it suggests that Sroubek is a person of poor character, a criminal who cannot be trusted, who arrived here under false pretences. He should be deported. You have got this wrong.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as that member should know given that when he was in office there were roughly 100 deportations cancelled. From time to time to time Ministers do have information put in front of them that makes for very difficult decisions. I have seen information that would suggest, from the information reports, that they have been in very similar circumstances.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t it clear that her Government has prioritised a dangerous criminal’s welfare over public safety, contrary to her statement that any further offending actions by Karel Sroubek “sits with this individual … anything further is off the minister’s conscience and it’s on theirs.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is being made absolutely clear by the Minister. He has put into writing that anything further would mean that he would automatically be deported. On the face of it, of course, it looks like an obvious decision, which demonstrates that from time to time, Ministers in this position do receive additional information. What we have to make sure is that that information that the Minister makes the decision on is consistent and clear, and that’s for officials to ensure that they have provided that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t it the case that since the early 2000s, Karel Sroubek has been back to the Czech Republic, and doesn’t that make any decision by Iain Lees-Galloway ridiculous?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Minister made the decision based on the information he had at the time, and he is no different to any other Minister of any political persuasion. They have to deal with the information provided to them by officials. If there is information that contradicts the basis on which the Minister made the decision, then that would be for him to go back to the officials and seek further advice. I would have an expectation that he would do that.

Hon Simon Bridges: Did she and the Minister not know he had been to the Czech Republic since the early 2000s, and is she going to fess up they just got this clearly, badly wrong?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Every Minister does rely on the advice that they are provided by officials, and the Minister is no different in that regard to the last Minister, who overturned 108 deportations. We are all, as Ministers, reliant on the information we are provided. Again, if there is anything that contradicts the information that’s been provided, it is for the Minister to go back to officials, and it would be my expectation he would do that.

Winston Peters jumped in to try to support Ardern, and tried to divert blame to the National Government. His initial efforts were ruled out of order, and responses by National MPs were disproportionately punished by the Speaker.

Rt Hon David Carter: Because it’s not your job—

SPEAKER: That’s six. Any more?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yeah, OK. It’s worth it.

SPEAKER: That’s 10 supplementary questions that will be taken from the National Party today.

But Peters was allowed to rephrase.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the basis of information being given to this House in good faith, has the Prime Minister been appraised of the number of times this man came back into the country, and who was the Government at the time?

Ardern briefly took the opportunity to take a swipe at National but switched back to the more serious matter before her.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Obviously, members will draw their inference from the fact that we have only been in Government for 12 months. Again, though, I reiterate that a Minister would make a decision based on the information in front of him, and we would all have a fair expectation that if there is information to contradict that, we would expect the Minister to go back to his officials.

The next question also addressed the issue.

2. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Justice: What is New Zealand’s process for extraditing Czech nationals to the Czech Republic, and what stage is the application for extradition of Karel Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik, at?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice): The Czech Republic is able to make an application for extradition of one of their citizens, and any application is made under the Extradition Act 1996. There is a process that usually starts with an application being made through diplomatic channels. It goes to the Minister of Justice in New Zealand. It is an application ultimately determined by the District Court on the grounds of eligibility, and then the final decision on whether or not an extradition is made is made by the Minister of Justice of the day. On the second part of the question, despite the Czech Republic indicating to the New Zealand Government in 2015 that it had an interest in Mr Sroubek, no formal application for extradition has been made.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why is the Parole Board aware of an extradition request?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: I’m not responsible for the determinations of the Parole Board.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Did the Minister speak with the immigration Minister ahead of the Minister approving residency for Karel Sroubek?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: No.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Was the Minister aware of any controversy around Karel Sroubek before the Minister of Immigration granted residency?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: No, and there’d be no reason for me to have been so.

Hon Mark Mitchell: If officials advise there is sufficient evidence to support an extradition request, will he extradite Karel Sroubek back to the Czech Republic?

Hon ANDREW LITTLE: That member will be well aware that it would be entirely inappropriate and not in the public interest for me to comment on any case that may be the subject of an extradition application.

It became a triple whammy.

4. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he believe he has considered all relevant factors in deciding to grant residency to Karel Sroubek, also known as Jan Antolik?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Minister of Immigration): Shortly before question time today, I became aware that information may exist that appears, on the face of it, to directly contradict information that I used and relied upon to make that decision. I am now taking advice on my options and need to consider the veracity of the new information that has been made available to me.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Did all of those factors include submissions from Czech Republic officials about any statements Mr Sroubek had made relevant to them, and, if not, will he be also asking the Czech officials to provide submissions?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Given the potential new information that I have just become aware of, I do not intend to make any further comment on the information that I was provided. I need to take advice, and I need to carefully consider the way forward from here.

So a commitment by Lees-Galloway to reconsider the residency decision due to new information becoming available.

This issue was already awkward for the Government. It has now become embarrassing. One would hope that a minister would do as much as possible to ensure he had all relevant information before making an obviously contentious decision.

National have called for the Minister to resign over this, but I think that’s a silly overreach. This looks more like a stuff up than anything like a sackable offence. Perhaps sloppy, but probably not a misuse of ministerial powers.

So Lees-Galloway should learn a lesson from this and be a more careful minister in the future.

This is a bit of a blow to Government credibility, but probably isn’t a major. However it reinforces National’s campaign that keeps claiming the Government is soft on criminals.

Leave a comment

47 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  November 1, 2018

    I might just re-post my comment on this from last night:
    . . . . . . . . .
    Gezza / October 31, 2018
    Man, 1ewes at 6 (I watched it on the plus one channel) slammed Lees-Galloway for his decision not to deport Czech Republic criminal and thug Karel Sroubek. Seems National has information that while he claimed he could be killed if he returned to Czech Republic – he’s actually been back there!

    Lees-Galloway and Ardern were both shown backpedalling like crazy and blaming their officials mercilessly in the time-honoured fashion of Ministers and PMs. Bridges was given a good sound-bite; saying a simple Google check would’ve have shown this information or something.

    He’s was on top, making the pair of them look hopelessly naive, gullible & incompetent and he was looking & sounding good, on TV, for a change !

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/10/31/300774/immigration-minister-may-have-wrong-information-in-deportation-case

    5 0 Rate This
    . . . . . . . . . . . .
    I posted the other day that I thought Bridges & Woodhouse banging on that they would have refused residence to this thug was a mistake as they didn’t know what secret info the Immigration Minister had. How wrong I was. They knew more, and One’s TV news coverage was slanted to the very negative for Ardern and Lees-Galloway and made Bridges look good.

    So Simon’s got one on the board with 1ewes at last.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      There’s a wanker up and on duty quite early today, I see.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 1, 2018

        Wanking never sleeps.

        Labour has been made to look very foolish here, and they deserve to. My impression is that they have taken the thug’s word for it, no checks done or needed.

        Reply
  2. robertguyton

     /  November 1, 2018

    “Shortly before question time today, I became aware that information may exist that appears, on the face of it, to directly contradict information that I used and relied upon to make that decision. I am now taking advice on my options and need to consider the veracity of the new information that has been made available to me.”
    That seems fair to me. Decisions based on known evidence are the best decisions that can be made.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      What time did you get up and start reading here robert, as a matter of interest?

      Reply
      • robertguyton

         /  November 1, 2018

        Wondering if I’m the phantom down-ticker, Gezza 🙂
        I don’t tick, or look at the tickings. I was up at 6:20 and took a look here at about 6:40, from memory.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  November 1, 2018

          Just curious. I’ll be honest and say I suspect you are the phantom upticker of your own posts.

          Reply
          • robertguyton

             /  November 1, 2018

            Thank you for your honesty, but I won’t thank you for disregarding my honesty around ticking.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              I’ll be honest again and say I don’t care.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 1, 2018

              Nor do I, so it’s a matter de minimus .

            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Is it. Good. I never bother looking up Latin. Those fuckers are long dead.

    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      Both Lees-Galloway and Ardern have already headed straight to the Go To solution of blaming their officials for bad or insufficient information and advice so they’ve got the National Party’s policy on that one well-spudded into their own modus operandi.

      But it does seem likely that this may turn out to be a case of lazy work by their officials who wouldn’t normally think of googling someone’s name and seeing if they had posted pics and info on their social media pages that might contain information of relevance to the Minister.

      This Minister has now learned the lesson, hopefully, that if you don’t question your officials and send them away to do more work you can end up with your butt in the fire.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 1, 2018

        De minimus, of the smallest.

        Modus operandi…also Latin.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  November 1, 2018

          Cheers Kitty. I know what the Latin I use means – just can’t be bothered looking up the couple of phrases robert knows.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 1, 2018

            I know, he makes a little go a little way

            😀 😀 😀

            It was actually for him that I said that modus operandi was Latin (and let him know that someone else knows what de minimus means).

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 1, 2018

            How about robertus asinus est?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Should that a and i be in there?

            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Correction:
              Should that “si” be in there? Or was it an autocorrect jobby?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 1, 2018

              It should be there.

              I’d love to see the tagging at Pompeii (an original one) that says ‘Gaius asinus est.’ (Gaius is an idiot) in a childish hand, done with, I think, charcoal.

            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Just checking. Either one would’ve worked for me. But I’ve forgotten a lot of Latin because I loathed Cabbage, the Latin teacher, 10 times more than he loathed me.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 1, 2018

              I really liked it, especially at university. We had a much better Latin mistress than we deserved, she was a learned classicist. There are not too many openings for that, alas.

              One of the Vic ones did a thesis on where the punctuation in Homer would have gone had Homer used punctuation, which he didn’t because there was none to use.

              Another woman at a book group and I had some puzzled looks when I said ‘All Gaul is’ and she joined in as we chorused ‘divided into three parts.’ and laughed our heads off. Nobody else thought it funny to chant ‘Mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa/Mensae, mensae, mensa, mensarum, mensis, mensis !!!’ either. She learned Latin a long time before I did; it’s amazing how these things stay with you.

              Omnis Gallia in tres partes divisa est,,,,

  3. lurcher1948

     /  November 1, 2018

    Don’t worry Duncan Garners on the case.

    Reply
  4. robertguyton

     /  November 1, 2018

    I don’t think they’re “blaming their officials” in any unfair or unpleasant way. I watched Question Time yesterday and the explanation seemed reasonable and fair.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      I posted both the vids yesterday. I didn’t watch them. Think I might’ve been having some issues with Sweety at the time that seemed a lot more important.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      Blaming the officials *with kindness* doesn’t mean one is not blaming the officials, robert.

      The problem ILG is facing it seems, from 1ewes at 6, is that he needs to find out if he even has the legal right to rescind or revoke his decision.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 1, 2018

        They are blaming the officials. But I bet that the officials aren’t given all the credit when something’s a resounding success.

        Reply
  5. David

     /  November 1, 2018

    Ardern should fire ILG so she can free him up to spend more time f…..g up employment legislation. He is Curran with a beard, low intelligence.

    Reply
  6. NOEL

     /  November 1, 2018

    So Newshub has an exclusive from the wife who was for his residency and now has a restraining order out and is claiming he went back.
    Anyone know what passport he used?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      Hang on – I’m just going upstairs to make sure mine’s still bloody there ! 😮

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  November 1, 2018

        All good. Whew ! Thank goodness – it’s expired: 10 years ago. 😐

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 1, 2018

          (phew ! He didn’t notice that it’s a well-made copy with a fake expiry date)

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  November 1, 2018

            Shit! Hang on…

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Nope. It’s all good. No signs of forgery or tampering. Hard to believe I ever looked that good, tbh.

              (I’ve actually been well-trained in how to examine passports for tampering and forgery, actually, Kitty.)

            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              Just ignore the first ‘actually’, poor proof-reading, sorry – I prefer where the 2nd one is.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 1, 2018

              Oh, bugger…

            • Gezza

               /  November 1, 2018

              No it was good thinking on your part. My first examination was a cursory one and only in the nature of a check that it was still there. A more detailed examination was certainly in order, to ensure it was actually all in order, so thank you for that. 👮

  7. Strong For Life

     /  November 1, 2018

    Sack him!

    Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  November 1, 2018

    Sounds like Natl/MSM pressure is weighing on Lees-Galloway’s decision
    As I said previously; sounds like there is more going on here, than is perhaps being ‘publically reported’ ?

    One thing I heard.. this guy was originally given residence, under Natl-act-maori.. Lees-Galloway was just giving ‘the final tick’ OR NOT ?

    Reply
  9. Corky

     /  November 1, 2018

    Damn..National applying the hurt in parliament.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 1, 2018

      Who to, over what, and how do you know – or are you writing whilst dreaming? (It happens, apparently.)

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 1, 2018

        Yes, it’s called automatic writing and it seldom, if ever, makes sense.

        Reply
        • robertguyton

           /  November 1, 2018

          Ha! I’ve studied this and been involved in compiling material to support “writing” or at least speaking into a microphone, whilst “dreaming” – hypnogogic and hypnopompic imagining. I could go on for hours, if anyone was interested…Salvadore Dali used to use the technique to access his hyper-creative side, sitting in a chair, holding marbles in his hands until he dropped off and they dropped down onto a crockery plate, awakening him with those images fresh in his mind…

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 1, 2018

            I was talking about ‘automatic writing’, not people losing their marbles. Although they can be the same thing, I suppose.

            I wonder how many people pronounce Dali’s name correctly…or Degas.

            Reply
          • Corky

             /  November 1, 2018

            Well I never, Robert. Not many people know that. Best you keep this stuff to yourself. People on this blog like their little worlds ordered and understandable.

            Try the Electronic Voice Phenomenon. Turn on an old cassette with a blank tape and let it record in a quiet place. The voices you may hear will either be spirits or auditory hallucinations , depending on which side of the fence you are on.

            Reply
  1. More ‘new information’ that prompted reconsideration of Sroubek residency | Your NZ

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