A quick cursory review of the tenure of the dismissed Minister Iain Lees Galloway at the critically important immigration portfolio will reveal how his tenure was plagued with scandals, failures and incompetence.
To be clear, Iain Lees-Galloway's unceremonious departure from the cabinet was completely unrelated to his role as the Minister for Immigration, yet an overview on how the department functioned or to put aptly - was allowed to run amok with the lives of thousands and thousands of people whose lives were caught up in the never-ending processing delays, endless queues long before Covid-19 had changed our world upside-down.
As the Prime Minister has herself issued a scathing indictment on the now-disgraced Minister's "judgement" abilities, albeit in a completely unrelated issue of "inappropriate behaviour at workplace," it is pertinent to question the same judgement-abilities being applied on complex immigration issues.
Immigration Minister addresses to a selected members of Kiwi-Indian community along with MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan on border closure and plight of temp migrants caught overseas.
The country had a first-hand experience of Mr Lees-Galloway's judgement abilities when as Minister for Immigration he granted New Zealand residency to a convicted drug smuggler in 2018 while still being in prison.
Czech national Kickboxer Jan Antolik, whose real name is Karel Sroubek - had first entered New Zealand on a false passport and was subsequently convicted and prisoned in a South Auckland facility for importing drugs with a street value of $375,000.
Sroubek was refused bail in 2017 and was due for deportation after serving his prison sentence, before getting an out of jail red-carpet welcome straight to NZ residency by the then Immigration Minister Lees-Galloway.
However, Sroubek-controversy was not the only issue plaguing immigration department which witnessed an unprecedented visa processing delays, abrupt changes in partnership visa rules that unfairly targeted Indian marriages causing forced separations and painful delays in unification as a family, and delays in the processing of Skilled Migrant Category in the last three years.
The sudden emergence of Covid-19 related global pandemic and the accompanying border closure and economic carnage had now irreversibly changed the fate of thousands and thousands of visa-hopefuls whose applications could have been decided and resolved under a competent and functioning Immigration department.
It is to say that tens of thousands of temporary migrant workers, with the majority being previously international students, were living and working in NZ and within immigration system working towards the long term goal of seeking residency and settling permanently and could have been actually well-settled only if Immigration NZ had been not plagued with processing delays and incompetence.
Now as we know, in the post Covid world, the government has abruptly changed the bar, making it exceptionally high for skilled workers to get through the immigration system and closed borders, leaving thousands of people in precarious positions for no fault of their own.
Undoubtedly, the Immigration department has come to a standstill in the last three years under the watch of the former Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
Several noted Immigration Lawyers and advisers concur with the opinion that Galloway's tenure was one of the worst they have seen at least in the last couple of decades of their operations in the immigration industry.
Leading the charge Alastair McClymont of McClymont Associates & Barristers told the Indian Weekender that Galloway's tenure was "scandal-plagued, under constant attack, and oversaw a period of unprecedented immigration failures."
"Galloway had allowed the Ministry to fall into a state of complete chaos, led an attack against large numbers of migrants who in his mind didn't earn enough money to be considered of value to the country," Mr McClymont said.
"It will be fair to say that his actions had alienated the entire migrant community against this government. In my view he is responsible for leading the change from the Labour Party being the pro-migrant party that it was under Helen Clark, to the most anti-migrant party of a generation," Mr McClymont said scathingly.
Hon Tuariki Delamere, Managing Director of TD Immigrations who is also a former Immigration Minister, told the Indian Weekender, "In my opinion, Iain has struggled with getting to grips with the immigration portfolio.
"We can see from the disastrous state of visa processing, Iain has not been able to impose any sort of operational discipline on Immigration New Zealand.
"Time and time again, Iain Lees-Galloway has let himself down, let the Government down, and let the country down," Mr Delamere said.
Another noted Immigration Lawyer Arron Martin of Immigration Law Limited also concurred saying, "Overall the tenure was of someone who didn't particularly care about the way in which his department was performing.
"The disarray within Immigration New Zealand displayed a lack of strong leadership. It took far too long for things to be done," Mr Martin said.
However, he was more scathing in repeating Mr Galloway's repeated comments that have been drumming into the patient and desperate ears of thousands of thousands of temporary migrant workers who are now stranded outside NZ borders.
"I'll be addressing that soon" (in regard to the issue of visa holders stuck offshore, and matters arising out of covid 19).
"I'm keeping a watching brief on that" (in regard to the backlog of decision-making on residence application)," Mr Martin pointed out in a scathing indictment of Mr Lees Galloway's performance as Immigration Minister.
Indeed, the tenure was utterly incompetent that had wrongly affected the lives of tens of thousands of migrants.