Review into Immigration New Zealand's deportation process finds room for improvement

An independent review into Immigration New Zealand Zealand's (INZ) process for residence deportation liability decisions has found it can be improved.

INZ is in charge of gathering a file of information for the decision makers who make residence deportation decisions.

But after convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek's deportation liability was cancelled by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway - based upon this file - new information emerged in the media which hadn't originally been included.

Lees-Galloway then reversed his decision and an independent review by Mike Heron QC was commissioned into INZ's processes.

Along with Sroubek's file, another 29 complex case files were reviewed by Heron. In a report released on Wednesday, he found that all 30 case files were drafted fairly and objectively by INZ.

But while he found the process is sound, it also needs improvement. His report includes these recommendations:

  • The Immigration Minister should be able to request more advice in complex cases
  • INZ should develop further guidance on the types of cases warranting specific advice from officials
  • INZ should be able to check the veracity of the information provided to INZ
  • Copies of relevant evidence should be sent to a client who faces deportation
  • A simplified two-stage process should be applied to criminal cases where the offence is relatively minor

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) CEO Carolyn Tremain says she welcomes the findings.

"I welcome the review's findings that INZ collects the information necessary to enable decision-makers to make informed decisions and presents that information to decision-makers appropriately and professionally," she says.

However National's Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell says the report shows "what we knew all along".

"It's a shame that so much time and money has gone into this report just to tell us that Iain Lees-Galloway isn't up to the job. This is yet another working group that could have been avoided," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The reality is the Minister was presented with a compelling case from his officials that Karel Sroubek should be deported but he went against their advice. The system works but Iain Lees-Galloway stuffed up.

"This report cost taxpayers $155,000, more than most New Zealanders earn a year to tell us what we already knew."