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The Government’s decision to grant permanent residency to Czech national Karel Sroubek is unfair to the thousands of honest people wanting to make New Zealand their home. It also highlights the Government’s soft approach to illicit drugs and a naivety about the harm they cause in our community.

Karel Sroubek came to New Zealand on a fake passport. He is a kickboxer with gang affiliations. He was convicted for later smuggling ecstasy worth $375,000 into New Zealand and sentenced to six years in prison. The parole board refused early release stating Mr Sroubek was “manifestly untruthful” and his ex-wife has sought a restraining order after receiving threats from prison. There is no justification for allowing this dishonest, violent convicted drug trafficker to stay in New Zealand. 

This appalling immigration decision follows Labour and the Greens opposition to two important bills from National on the drug problems facing our communities.

I am a member of the Justice Select Committee hearing submissions on the Psychoactive Substances Bill that would toughen the law on these synthetic drugs. The coroner advised us that there have been 45 deaths from these drugs in the last year and St Johns are reporting 30 callouts a week. We heard heartbreaking stories of teenagers getting hooked, their battles to get clean, dealers hounding them for sales and their subsequent deaths. These synthetic drug dealers that can be responsible for multiple deaths face a maximum penalty of only two years. National wants to increase that to eight. I am appalled that Labour and the Greens are opposing this.

The Government has also opposed National’s bill to enable police to conduct roadside drug testing as for alcohol. Road fatalities from drug drivers exceeded those from drink drivers in the last year for the first time with 79 deaths compared to 70. In Nelson, we have had two appalling tragedies in the last year involving reckless driving from people off their face on drugs like meth and cannabis. We should be following Australia with random roadside saliva tests.

The Government argues that the drug problem is a health issue and that the focus should be on treatment. I totally support increased support for treatment and rehabilitation of drug users. I also strongly support innovative education programs that help give our young people the skills and wisdom to avoid drug use. However, we are being naïve in going soft on those who peddle and profit from the misery of these drugs.

Drug abuse is a significant factor in so many of our social problems like family violence, welfare dependency, child neglect, suicide and the epidemic around mental health. We need to get serious about stopping supply, preventative education as well as treatment and rehabilitation. We also need to send a clear message that happiness does not come in a bottle or a bong.

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