The Parole Board’s decision to keep drug smuggler Karel Sroubek behind bars was the right one, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“While Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway had no regard for public safety when he granted Karel Sroubek residency, it’s clear the Parole Board has public safety in mind.
“Karel Sroubek remains in New Zealand, but keeping him in prison is one of the few decisions that has made sense during this fiasco that has dragged on for more than a year.
“It’s clear from reading the Parole Board’s decision that it believes Sroubek poses a high risk. The Board questioned whether Sroubek was simply spinning whatever story was necessary to get out of jail.
“This confirms what National has said all along; that a convicted drug smuggler with a history of fraud, identity theft, and serious assault should never have been granted New Zealand residency.
“This is the third time Sroubek has been declined Parole. The risk he poses to the New Zealand public is seemingly obvious to everyone except Iain Lees-Galloway.
“Sroubek is the headache this Government cannot shake off. He will appear before the Parole Board again in four months, and the Minister will be hoping the IPT hearing has been resolved by then so Sroubek can be deported.
“Despite the Government's best efforts to sweep this under the carpet, New Zealanders won't forget that the Minister granted residency to a convicted drug smuggler.”
The Government’s intention to exempt the Pike River Mine re-entry team from safety laws and regulations is concerning and inappropriate, National’s Pike River Re-entry spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“One of the most important failures identified by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River was the unsafe design of the mine in not having two means of egress.
“The regulations were re-written in 2016 to specifically address this. It is unacceptable for the Government to now consider bypassing the very laws and regulations that were put in place to prevent a repeat of this awful tragedy. This shows a complete lack of leadership.
“The Minister for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little, has confirmed in Parliament that the Pike River Agency is seeking exemptions from the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and its regulations, to allow the re-entry to continue.
“It was disappointing to see a Minister of the Crown, under Parliamentary Privilege, mocking long-time mining journalist Mr Gerry Morris, a proud West Coaster with a long history of involvement in mining.
“The Minister should have fronted up and explained to New Zealanders why the Government has decided to not adopt new safety regulations that were put in place to prevent any further loss of life at Pike River.
“The advice that National had in Government was that it was always too dangerous to re-enter the mine. Our position has always been that we’re not against a safe re-entry of the drift provided it is done well within new safety guidelines.
“I am extremely disappointed and have lost all confidence in the Government, which now appears to be prioritising an entry at all costs, rather than a safety first approach.”
The Government’s rejection of National’s requested inquiry into the release of inciting letters from the alleged Christchurch Mosque killer is inexcusable, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Today National called for an inquiry at the Justice Select Committee into the failure of the Corrections Department to stop letters being sent by the alleged Christchurch killer from behind bars.
“The Government has played politics by unreasonably rejecting the request, which would have had questions answered about how this failure was possible.
“The victims of the March 15 shooting, and the recipients of unwanted letters, deserve answers on what systems the Government put in place for managing the person accused of the worst premeditated mass murder in our nation’s history.
“It is not good enough for the Minister to sweep this under the rug with an apology.
“Labour’s committee members – Meka Whaitiri, Clare Curran and Greg O’Connor – along with Jami-Lee Ross have shown they are more interested in covering up the Government’s failure than respecting the independence of the committee to undertake an inquiry.
“They must explain to the victims and the wider public why they don’t agree this is a matter worthy of parliamentary scrutiny.
“National believes we owe it to the victims to get to the bottom of Kelvin Davis’ unacceptable failure.”
National has called for an inquiry into the failure of the Corrections Department to stop inciting letters written by the alleged Christchurch Mosque killer from being sent, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“It is an appalling failure of the Justice system that the man accused of murdering 51 innocent people is able to continue to spread his hate from behind bars.
“New Zealand looks foolish when the Prime Minister is promoting one thing on the world stage and doing another back at home.
“The Prime Minister is calling for controls on the use of technology to spread hate while her own Government fails to prevent letters that promote terrorism from being sent from prison.
“The Justice Select Committee needs to get to the bottom of what went wrong.
“We need answers on what systems the Government put in place for managing the most high profile prisoner in our nation’s history. We need to know how the multiple letters got out and who the recipients were.
“Most importantly, we need reassurances that every possible measure is being taken to ensure this never happens again.
“We owe it to the victims in Christchurch to do everything possible to prevent a repeat of this failure of our Justice system.”
Convicted drug smuggler and fraudster Karel Sroubek could be released from prison in a matter of weeks and the Government must provide assurances the public’s safety won’t be at risk, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway granted residency to the convicted drug smuggler with a record of fraud, identity theft, and serious assault. Mr Lees-Galloway didn’t even read the file properly before granting him residency.
“Sroubek is due to appear before the Parole Board in the week of 16 September. There is every possibility he will be released into the community.
“Sroubek’s legal team filed an appeal with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on 18 December last year, yet still no hearing date appears to have been set.
“If released from prison, Sroubek can’t be deported as he’s currently in the middle of that appeal process. He could be back on our streets within weeks.
“New Zealanders need assurances their safety won’t be put at risk. If the Minister can’t provide them, he should stay behind bars.
"Iain Lees-Galloway’s decision to grant Sroubek residency continues to jeopardise the safety of the New Zealand public.
“Despite the Government’s best efforts to sweep this under the carpet, New Zealanders won’t forget the Minister granted residency to a convicted drug smuggler while denying residency applications to law-abiding immigrants and vastly increasing visa processing times.
“If Sroubek is released, New Zealanders need to know he will not pose a threat to the public.”
Responses to the 2019 Strengthening the Criminal Justice System for Victims survey shows victims feel failed by this Government’s soft on crime attitude, National Spokesperson for Justice Mark Mitchell says.
“The survey collected victims’ feedback on the criminal justice system with disappointing results, revealing they feel unsafe and unheard.
“83 per cent of the 620 respondents disagreed that the criminal justice system was safe for victims and 77 per cent disagreed their views had been listened to.
“279 working groups later and unsurprisingly this Government is still all talk and no action. After pledging to reduce the prison population by a third, there is still no plan to reduce crime and nothing on the Justice Summit’s agenda suggested this was a focus.
“The only plan this Government does have is to let people out of prison to meet a political target. They’ll do this by softening our bail, parole and sentencing laws to make it easier for criminals to get out of prison early, and harder for them to be sent there in the first place.
“That will make our communities less safe. National will strongly oppose any changes that will weaken our sentencing, bail or parole laws.
“There has been very little meaningful justice sector reform from this Government; the only substantial bills brought to Parliament have been the work of the previous National-led Government.
“National is a party that is tough on crime and puts victims at the heart of our criminal justice system.”
The Government’s weak response to the Māori Justice Hui report is consistent with its confused soft on crime approach, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“The Ināia Tonu Nei: Māori Justice Hui report appears to have responded to what this Government has been signalling and has resulted in a key recommendation to abolish prisons. Instead of ruling this out, Justice Minister Andrew Little has said the Government is considering its response.
“Mr Little needs to be very clear on the Government’s position, and confirm it will not be abolishing prisons.
“The Criminal Justice Summit was set up to fail from the start. It was poorly planned and ignored two critical stakeholders, victims and iwi. Taxpayers forked out $1.6 million and have yet to see any justice policy or reforms generated from this and the subsequent summits.
“The solution to reducing prison numbers lies with National’s social investment approach – early intervention and support that will prevent people entering the criminal justice system. Many of the recommendations from the report are aligned with our policy.
“Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has spent almost $100 million of taxpayer’s money on a ‘Māori Pathway in Prisons’, which is supposed to take action on Māori reoffending rates. But the Minster has no idea if it’s going to make any impact, and there are no measures on whether it will be effective.
“This is just another example of this Government wasting money without getting the detail right.
“National has a strong track record of collaboration and cooperation between the Crown and iwi to make our Justice sector stronger and more accessible for all Kiwis.
“This Government needs to stop signalling through blind ideology that reducing prison numbers is somehow going make New Zealand safer. Without a clear plan on how to reduce crime, releasing offenders early is only going to increase the risk and harm to communities.”
A further review of the Defence Estate is an admission by this Government that it has mismanaged its spending and is having to kick an extremely important issue down the road for another day, National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Defence Estate spending isn’t sexy or popular, but it’s long overdue and is very important for the health, safety and effectiveness of the almost 15,000 members of our Defence Force.
“While this Government has sat on its hands for the last 20 months awaiting four reviews into Defence policy, procurement and capabilities, our Defence Estate has languished.
“This Government inherited a $1.5 billion Defence Estate Regeneration Plan that National would have started to implement in the 2018 Budget.
“What needs to be fixed or redeveloped is known in extremely granular detail already, so this review is nothing but a costly timewasting exercise.
“Defence Force morale was at an all-time high and attrition rates were at an all-time low under National because we took Defence seriously. Both will suffer if real spending on bringing the Defence Estate up to standard doesn’t begin in earnest very soon.
“Defence Minister Ron Mark has said it is his ‘mission to have Estate Regeneration in a positive, future-proofed position before the end of this term of Government’, but we are yet to see any real movement to achieve this goal.
“Unfortunately it looks like Mr Mark hasn’t been able to hold the sway necessary with his Cabinet colleagues to get this vitally important investment programme underway.
“How embarrassing that they’ve fobbed him off with another expensive working group.”
The concerning number of crimes going unreported shows the Government’s soft on crime approach is failing New Zealanders, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
The latest Crime and Victims Survey from the Ministry of Justice revealed 77 per cent of crime was not reported to police over the past year – a jump of 10 per cent since this was last measured in 2015.
“The increasing level of unreported crime in this country is worrying, particularly since the report found people’s perceptions about the seriousness of a crime affected whether or not it was reported to Police.
“All New Zealanders should feel confident that, no matter how big or small a crime is, they can report it and see justice done.
“But these figures show the Government’s hands-off approach and dropping of important police targets has left the public disheartened and lowered their confidence in an appropriate response.
“The Government has shown it isn’t prepared to take problem seriously either, with Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters deflecting media questions on the issue by casting doubt over the report’s accuracy, saying it lacks substance.
“Rather than burying its head in the sand when it comes to an uncomfortable problem, the Government should be telling us what it will do to see all criminals held accountable and inspire more confidence in the justice system.
“National will develop policy that ensures victims and all New Zealanders feel confident enough to report crime and help keep their communities safe.”
In a move typical of a Government which wants to tell New Zealanders we are failing, Justice Minister Andrew Little has sold New Zealand short at the United Nations when we should be promoting ourselves proudly on the world stage, National’s Justice Spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“New Zealand has a great track record on human rights, democratic freedom and freedom of the press. We are regularly ranked one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
“It is a Government’s responsibility to always look for improvement, but we can be proud of the steps we have made.
“Instead, Andrew Little has taken to the world stage and talked us down as a nation. He’s said that our justice system is broken despite years of crime decreasing and New Zealanders feeling more safe in their communities.
“This is incredibly disheartening for the people who work on the frontline, such as our police, court staff, judges, and corrections officers, who work hard to ensure we have one of the best justice systems in the world. Mr Little’s comments will do nothing to improve confidence both domestically and internationally.
“Mr Little shouldn’t be apologising to countries that have far worse records on human rights than we do. We should be proud of the nation we have built together.
“Labour’s plan to go soft on crime by reducing the prison population with no plan to reduce crime will hurt our well-functioning justice system and make New Zealand less safe.”