National granted repeat drink-driver temporary visa in 2013

The person granted residency by the Immigration Minister in New Zealand despite having six drink driving convictions was given a three-year temporary visa in 2013 by the former National-led Government.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway's office has confirmed to Newshub that former Immigration Minister and National MP Michael Woodhouse gave the person a three-year temporary work visa in 2013.

Lees-Galloway's office said it was noted that subsequent temporary work visas would be approved as required, and so Immigration New Zealand gave the person another in 2016.

"They were on temporary work visas when I looked at the case and made a pragmatic decision to give them residency given that we can't deport this person," Lees-Galloway said in a statement to Newshub.

"This is a protected person under the convention against torture and they cannot be deported by law."

It follows Newshub's revelation that since Lees-Galloway took office in October 2017, two people with criminal convictions have been granted residency - one was convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek.

The other unknown person had six convictions for driving with excess breath alcohol plus two convictions for driving without a licence.

The documents show the decision was made using Lees-Galloway's absolute discretion.

National leader Simon Bridges blasted Lees-Galloway Tuesday morning, telling the media: "I'd like to know whether this guy has gone to prison - these are all questions we should be able to have answered."

"He did not need to grant residency but he did, and all the benefits that all New Zealanders have are now open to this man, from welfare to our courts and so on... He should not have granted him residency."

But Bridges said he was unaware that National had granted the person a temporary visa.

"I'd want to know those facts," he said, adding that he wasn't leader of the National Party at the time.

"If Iain Lees-Galloway or the Government are indirectly dripping out little bits on this case, how about they come clean and Iain Lees-Galloway does some interviews on the record," Bridges said.

"Temporary residency isn't as good, it isn't the Rolls-Royce version that residency is... While they're having a go at National, let's also hear their answers to questions that matter."