Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is suggesting the blame for the Karel Sroubek saga lies with Immigration NZ officials, despite the Prime Minister saying this is not the case.
Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the House today, Peters said information that should have been available to the Immigration Minister wasn't because of "certain people in the bureaucracy."
National said Peters was laying the blame for the botched handling of Sroubek's deportation case in officials' laps.
Last week, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Parliament he would be reviewing Sroubek's case after "new information" had been made available to him.
That report would be ready in "a number of days," according to Peters.
Asked by media if Lees-Galloway had been let down by his officials, Peters said the inquiry would establish that shortly.
But he said the buck does not stop with the Minister.
"It stops with the people who are put in charge systemically of that matter – it wasn't the Minister."
"If you're sitting there as a Minister and you have an advice team, you expect to have all the advice, the whole lot.
"You're flat out – there is no way you can handle all the problems of overstayers and all sorts of immigration [issues] and do it all by yourself and do all the research as well. If you could, you would be working 100 [hours] a week and that's not possible."
Peters told media that sometimes people make innocent mistakes.
"Some of these people work 75-80 hours a week – it's tough ... especially the higher [up] you go. So you have to be prepared for human mistakes."
He said it's important to learn from mistakes and this was going to be a "serious learning experience".
On Monday, Ardern said the blame for the Sroubek saga did not sit with officials or the Minister.
"Before anyone jumps down the track of saying 'I'm blaming officials here,' I'm not. There seems to be a range of things at play here, we need to get this decision right," he told Newstalk ZB.
National's Immigration Spokesman Michael Woodhouse said Peters was putting the blame for the saga onto officials.
"That's the clear inference from the answers to his questions [in the House] and it's a disgraceful response."