Govt says Nats us­ing wife as pawn

Po­lice Min­is­ter says the safe house story false but MP backs claims

Rotorua Daily Post - - Front Page - Derek Cheng Jamie Mor­ton

The es­tranged wife of Czech man Karel Sroubek has be­come a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball, as the Gov­ern­ment ac­cuses the Na­tional Party of over-stat­ing threats to her safety and us­ing her for cheap po­lit­i­cal points.

But Na­tional is stand­ing by its claim that she has real safety con­cerns, and that those fears have been ex­ac­er­bated by the Gov­ern­ment.

This week dur­ing Ques­tion Time, Na­tional’s jus­tice spokesman Mark Mitchell has de­manded to know why Im­mi­gra­tion NZ of­fi­cials turned up to the “po­lice safe house” where the es­tranged wife was stay­ing to “pres­sure her” into tak­ing part in Im­mi­gra­tion NZ’s re­view of the Sroubek case.

Mitchell, who has a let­ter from the es­tranged wife giv­ing him per­mis­sion to speak for her, said the visit amounted to “bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour from the state”, and that po­lice should never have told Im­mi­gra­tion NZ where she lived be­cause she was in a po­lice safe house.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Stu­art Nash even said that po­lice should not di­vulge that in­for­ma­tion to any­one in or­der to pro­tect her safety.

But Nash then sought as­sur­ances from po­lice about their be­hav­iour, and yes­ter­day said that po­lice had not di­vulged any in­for­ma­tion to Im­mi­gra­tion NZ about the ad­dress of Sroubek’s es­tranged wife.

Im­mi­gra­tion NZ con­firmed that they al­ready knew where she was and po­lice did not pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion.

“Fur­ther, I was ad­vised the ad­dress where she lives is not a po­lice safe house, but that po­lice have con­tacted her sev­eral times to ver­ify what as­sis­tance she needs or what com­plaints she wishes to make,” Nash said.

“The story be­ing put about by Mark Mitchell is not cor­rect.”

Dur­ing Ques­tion Time yes­ter­day and speak­ing on be­half of the Prime Min­is­ter, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters said that po­lice had of­fered pro­tec­tion to her on three oc­ca­sions — but she had de­clined.

He said the Na­tional Party was chiefly re­spon­si­ble for com­pro­mis­ing her safety by ref­er­enc­ing her in 23 oral ques­tions and 56 pub­lic state­ments.

“In short, you’ve got some­one who — for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, ve­nal po­lit­i­cal pur­poses at that — is be­ing used as a trump by Op­po­si­tion mem­bers. If pro­tec­tion and se­crecy and pri­vacy are called to this is­sue, then the Na­tional Party has been a ma­jor of­fender.”

Fol­low­ing Ques­tion Time, Mitchell told the Her­ald that Peters and Nash were wrong.

“There was def­i­nitely a po­lice pro­tec­tion plan put in place for her. We or­gan­ised that through Min­is­ter Stu­art Nash. She had gone to a house where she thought she would be safe, and that was part of the plan.”

He said re­gard­less of whether Im­mi­gra­tion NZ al­ready knew her ad­dress, it was wrong to show up unan­nounced.

“This is not a woman un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion from Im­mi­gra­tion.

“She’s a Kiwi. Why are they turn­ing up on her doorstep in a house that is part of a po­lice plan?

“If that is their stan­dard prac­tice, then it se­ri­ously needs to be re­viewed be­cause all it can be seen as is bul­ly­ing from the state.”

Mitchell said her fears were based on Sroubek’s crim­i­nal his­tory and gang as­soc ia­tions.

He has also al­leged in the House that Sroubek has made threat­en­ing phone calls to her.

He re­jected Peters’ claim that the Na­tional Party had in­creased those fears.

“The Op­po­si­tion has a job to do, and if peo­ple come to them for help, we will do that.

“The rea­son the in­for­ma­tion has come out is be­cause the Deputy PM stood up in the House and tried to at­tack her char­ac­ter, and called her a Na­tional Party in­for­mant. That’s why she asked us to speak up for her.”

Po­lice said it would not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases. If you’ve ever heard a rau­cous racket cut through the oth­er­wise dul­cet bird­song of a New Zealand back­yard, there’s a good chance the of­fender was a myna.

This noisy char­ac­ter, typ­i­cally found hang­ing around North Is­land road­sides, is con­sid­ered a pest be­cause it feeds on fruit and causes dam­age to crops.

An­nual sur­veys have shown how their pop­u­la­tions are on the rise — to the point they to­day out­num­ber even our friendly fan­tail in ur­ban gar­dens.

Now a new study shows New Zealand my­nas aren’t even play­ing us the great­est hits their Asian na­tive ranges en­joy, but a dull setlist of harsh screeches and shrieks.

The find­ings come from Dr Sam Hill, a for­mer Massey Univer­sity ecol­o­gist whose pre­vi­ous fo­cus has been on tu¯¯ı, which, con­versely, boast a florid reper­toire of more than 300 tunes.

His lat­est project stemmed from some­thing that struck him while vis­it­ing a Nepalese vil­lage four years ago.

“I recorded a myna that sang a hugely com­plex song, which got me won­der­ing why . . . the my­nas we have here in New Zealand have such lu­di­crously sim­ple and noisy ones.”

He now puts this down to a phe­nom­e­non called the founder ef­fect — where ge­netic vari­a­tion is lost when a new pop­u­la­tion starts from a small num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als.

“Our un­der­stand­ing [from re­search in] other species was that birds in­tro­duced to new ar­eas from their na­tive ranges gen­er­ally have these founder ef­fects — which lead to ge­netic bot­tle­neck­ing, iso­la­tion and some­times in­breed­ing, and in terms of vo­cal be­hav­iour, more sim­ple songs.”

For his study, just pub­lished in Ibis — In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Avian Science, Hill and his col­leagues sourced songs from mul­ti­ple my­nas across their na­tive range, which ran from Kaza­khstan and Uzbek­istan across to In­dia, Nepal and China. They also gath­ered field record­ings from my­nas in coun­tries they’d been in­tro­duced to — New Zealand, Aus­tralia, Oman, South Africa, the United Arab Emi­rates and the United States.

Next, they as­sessed 75 in­di­vid­ual birds across all ranges to com­pare the com­plex­ity of their songs.

“Our re­sults sug­gested, as pre­dicted, song com­plex­ity was higher in the na­tive ar­eas in a ‘sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant’ sense,” Hill said.

“This could be a re­flec­tion of their re­duced ge­netic di­ver­sity — but this needs more in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”


pol­i­tics Mark Mitchell

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