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.”
Public concern around the Government’s soft on crime approach is clearly building as shown by the level of public anger over the sentence that Rouxle Le Roux received for the death of Nathan Kraatskow, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Almost 160,000 New Zealanders signed a petition asking the Crown to appeal the sentence of home detention for dangerous driving causing death. Crown Law has today decided against doing so.
“Judicial independence is important but the National Party is concerned that the Government’s soft on crime approach is making communities less safe.
“National Party Leader Simon Bridges and I accepted the petition from Nathan Kraastkow’s family at Parliament on Tuesday.
“The National Party will ensure policy is developed to reinforce that victims and their families are kept at the heart of our justice system and offenders are held accountable.
“National is the party of law and order and will ensure the voices of victims and all New Zealanders are heard.
“Our thoughts remain with the Kraatskow family today.”
The Prime Minister needs to tell the public whether she backs Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ attempt to discredit the real concerns of Karel Sroubek’s ex-wife by dismissing her as a political informant, National Party Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
National can also reveal that an Immigration official turned up at Mr Sroubek’s estranged wife’s house in spite of her being the subject of a Police safety plan meaning her address was restricted information.
“Rather than front up to a bad decision to let a convicted criminal remain in New Zealand, Mr Peters went on the attack while answering questions on behalf of the Prime Minister last week, trying to discredit the concerns by saying Mr Sroubek’s estranged-wife was a ‘National Party informant’. He continued to play the fool today.
“She’s not. She is a victim who is the subject of a Police safety plan. She was was directly affected by a bad decision, fears for her safety and has been repeatedly let down by the Government. But the Deputy Prime Minister attacked her anyway.
“Now her family has even greater fears for her safety, saying Mr Peters has ‘placed a fair and square target on the back… of a vulnerable young woman already dealing with enough challenges under the circumstances’.
“That the Government would attack the motives of a victim raising real concerns in order to try and take the heat off itself is appalling.
“Yes, she made a submission in Mr Sroubek’s support, but she says this was made under duress. She doesn’t want him to stay and has changed both her phone number and address, because of what she says are threats to her safety.
“The unwelcome visit by Immigration to discuss her statement, a visit she later received an apology for, makes the situation worse.
“Seeking help, her initial approach was also to a former Labour Minister. She was referred to the Opposition because the Government had let her down and she had nowhere else to go. We took up the issue because this is a bad decision that put her and the public at risk.
“The family of Mr Sroubek’s ex-wife have rightly had enough. They say Mr Peters has caused immense stress ‘and a feeling of utter hopelessness’.
“The Prime Minister needs to tell New Zealanders whether she thinks her deputy’s actions were acceptable. They were not and National will remain on the side of victims and continue to fight against this bad decision.”
The Government’s soft on crime approach has filtered through to the Police as 84 people were visited for illicit drug importation but not one charge was laid, National’s Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.
“Police have admitted they visited 84 addresses as part of a crackdown on people importing illicit drugs via the dark net.
“Police haven’t said how many of the people they visited were importing large quantities of illicit drugs to sell.
“It’s unbelievable that Police would let people give a warning to anyone who is importing illicit drugs like MDMA and LSD. These drugs cause a huge amount of harm in our communities.
“Police say they were focussing on education and harm reduction. We agree that’s an important aspect but not when it comes to people who are importing illicit drugs so they can deal them which some clearly were.
“Part of the operation revealed Auckland teenagers were importing drugs to sell to their peers. These are incredibly dangerous substances which are no so potent even a small amount can kill or be diluted to supply up to 50 people.
“And this follows Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway inexplicably granting residency to a violent, gang associated, fraudster who also imported illicit drugs.
“Illicit drugs ruin lives and cause a great deal of harm in our communities. While we need a health approach for people with addiction, we can’t stand by and watch while the people who peddle these into our communities are coddled.
“National is the party of law and order and won’t stand by while this Government soft on crime approach allows criminals to get away with pushing dangerous drugs into our communities.”
The Government’s cut-price plans for major Northland highways shows it’s priority is pet projects like central Auckland trams and is leaving Northland behind, MPs for Rodney, Whangarei and Northland Mark Mitchell, Dr Shane Reti and Matt King say.
“The Penlink project would provide an alternative route between the Whangaparoa Peninsula and State Highway 1 at Redvale. With only one way out of the Whangaparoa Peninsula this road is not only a safety issue, but also vital for the overall network,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an important project that the Government has wrongly thrown into uncertainty.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford is choosing to axe or down-grade projects that, had they gone ahead, would have made a real difference to our community, as well as the wider Northland transport network.”
“The previous National Government committed to delivering a full four-lane motorway from Auckland to Whangarei. This was a vital project for Northland on a road that links us to the rest of New Zealand and built on our previous Road of National Significance between Puhoi to Warkworth,” Dr Reti says
“Part of this project, from Whangarei to Te Hana, was forced to be put under re-evaluation by NZTA following the Government’s cuts to highway funding. NZTA has since announced that instead of a reliable four-lane highway, only short term safety improvements are being made.
“It’s not good enough. State Highway 1 from Whangarei to Marsden is the deadliest Police Hot Spot road in New Zealand. Four lanes will improve the safety profile of this deadly stretch of road.”
“This is a project desperately needed in the north and, if built, would provide a huge boost to the economy and employment of our region. The Northland region has significant potential which is mostly dependent on State Highway 1,” Mr King says.
“The four-lane motorway would be a game changer for Northland by providing a safer, more reliable and resilient route for local communities, visitors and freight. It will be the gateway to the north.
“But by moving billions of dollars out of state highway funding for trams in central Auckland, the Government is showing its true colours. This tram plan is a sham. Northland deserves better.”