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In New Zealand we pride ourselves on being a pretty fair country. I like to think that I am teaching my young ones how to be fair, at opportune moments like playtime, when Little Miss doesn’t want to share her toys with Young Mister. Kiwis start to learn about fairness at a young age.

I am frankly baffled by the Government’s decision to grant Karel Sroubek permanent residency. Sroubek is a convicted drug smuggler with gang associations, who is serving a prison sentence. He has been refused parole. A man who arrived in our country on a false passport has somehow managed to convince this Government to let him stay, as a permanent resident.

Last weekend we learned that the Immigration Minister had intervened to allow Karel Sroubek to stay in New Zealand when he is released from prison. The alternative was to have this criminal sent back to his native Czech Republic. This decision compromised the public safety of New Zealanders. Worse still the Government is refusing to properly explain its decision, despite the immense public interest.

People from all around the world want to live and work in New Zealand because of the opportunities here. They bring immense benefits to New Zealand, from skills and capital to new ideas and international connections.

I have met many migrants in my electorate, driven to become permanent residents; among them are farmers, small business owners, teachers and aged-care workers. These are people of good character who have contributed to their communities, working hard believing they would earn the right to stay in New Zealand and call this wonderful country of ours home. Sadly, some have been told they didn’t meet the criteria.

So these good people, with clear criminal records, and dozens of keen migrants in similar situations will have to go home, while this Government sees fit for Karel Sroubek to stay. Our Immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse has said there is no way this criminal would have been able to stay under a National Government.

I believe Kiwis deserve a proper explanation. It’s not good enough for the Government to say they’ve used their discretion and it’s not good enough for the Prime Minister to tell us to ‘read between the lines.’ All that I read is that this is a Government which is naïve and soft on crime and it’s made a decision in the best interests of a criminal, instead of New Zealanders.

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