COMMENT:

The job of Immigration Minister isn't a sought-after portfolio. During the course of every three-year term of government there are always cases that pull at the heart strings, that make the minister and the government look callous and uncaring.

Then there are other cases where there's public anger, where the minister's seen as arrogant, aloof and beyond reproach as they hide behind the Immigration Act's "absolute discretion" clause where they're not required to give any explanation which on the face of it looks ridiculous.

That's certainly the case with a bloke who currently goes by the name of Karel Sroubek, a Czech national who came to this country more than a decade ago on a false passport and lied to Immigration. Despite having been found guilty he was discharged without conviction and was allowed to stay in the country.

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Since then he's been associated with gangs and two years ago was jailed for almost six years for importing five kilograms of ecstasy. Most fair-minded people would say he was given his get out of jail card and when the cell door's finally unlocked on this one he should be sent packing.

Well that's not going to happen. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has used "absolute discretion" to give Sroubek permanent residency when he's released.

On this one, the public deserve and have a right to an explanation. As pressure grew for information, it looked as though the minister was buckling, telling us that in the public interest we deserve more information - and then going on to tell us virtually nothing.

Sroubek essentially has to behave himself for five years after he gets out of jail, this is his last chance Lees-Galloway assured us, telling the prisoner in a letter he trusts he'll use the opportunity to make a positive contribution to New Zealand.

If Sroubek's life is in danger should he be sent back to the Czech Republic, as has been hinted at, we should be told.

So he's allowed to stay, although in prison because the Parole Board turned down his application to get out last month.

Yeah well, as the old saying goes, justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.

Tell that to the South African family who this year were sent packing after it was discovered their 15-year-old boy had a pre-existing kidney condition when they came here nine years earlier. The father, Steve Metzinger, who'd had legal advice not to declare the condition, said he'd pay for any medical costs, if only the family were allowed to stay.

Thirty thousand people signed a petition asking for compassion, but an exemption wasn't given and they were gone.

The law's an ass.