COMMENT: Do we even need to say it? Iain Lees-Galloway's got to get the boot.
He's unravelling like a cheap stitch. The latest revelations about his decision to give Karel Sroubrek New Zealand residency are almost unbelievable.
The Immigration Minister previously told us he agonised over the decision. He told us it was "right up there… probably one of the most difficult decisions" he's had to make.
Now he's admitted he didn't even read the full file. And the decision took him less than an hour.
That's not quite the Garden of Gethsemane agony we'd imagined. It was more of a Ts and Cs decision. You know the kind. When you upgrade the app, your phone gives you a long list of new terms and conditions, and you just scroll right to the bottom and click "accept". That's what just happened.
Lees-Galloway's defence of his haste is embarrassing.
"I asked a lot of questions in that meeting."
"I took longer, much, much longer over this decision than I have on other decisions."
"I was thorough."
Lees-Galloway sounds like an intern trying to explain why he got the stationery order wrong.
That, after blaming officials for the blunder, is close to pathetic. He can stop throwing his officials under the bus. It's undignified. Even if they hadn't given him the full info he needed, he wouldn't know. He didn't read the full file.
And, yes, of course, the Minister should have read the entire file. Even if it was hundreds of pages long. He can't be expected to read every file given to him, but he should read the worrying ones. And this was one of them. Drugs. A false passport. Gangs. Those are all significant red flags.
It tells you how sloppy he was, that previous immigration ministers have lined up to give him a serve. All said he got it wrong.
Aussie Malcolm. Sir Kerry Burke. Max Bradford. They're not just former National Party ministers having an easy crack. Sir Kerry is a former Labour man.
Bradford made a point of reminding us of Danny Butler, the Irishman who claimed he would be killed if sent back to Northern Ireland in the late 90s. Bradford sent him packing anyway. Butler is, according to Bradford, still alive and "making life very difficult" back home.
There are three reasons the PM needs to sack Lees-Galloway. First, few are going to have much faith in future immigration decisions he makes. Second, he's made Jacinda Ardern and Deputy PM Winston Peters look bad. The PM stuck her neck out for him with her "read between the lines" defence of his decision. She's wasted political capital on him. Third, he's making this Government look inept. Again.
I say again because it's a recurring theme. From the start, ministers have looked either out of their depth, run off their feet or like student politicians who haven't clocked that they're in real-life government. Policies weren't ready to go. Clare Curran didn't understand the boundaries of public office. The PM didn't know what GDP stood for.
It's nice to look like a bunch of hipsters. Love the beards. Love the designer clothing. Love the recycling vibe. Love the Instagrammable photos in New York. Would love it even more if they could look like they knew what they were doing. It's been more than a year.
Sacking Lees-Galloway is a tough one for the PM. It's not a good look having to sack a third minister in three months. But it's surely better than letting him stay, and telling the public that this kind of sloppiness is just fine in her Government.
Surely she'll want to signal that she expects more than this.