Four strikes and Stuart Nash has been ousted from cabinet.
It follows revelations this evening that he shared private cabinet discussions with business leaders and criticised decisions made in a 2020 email, according to reporting by Stuff.
In the email, Nash set out his opposition to a decision cabinet had reached and the position that other cabinet members took.
Speaking on the black and white tiles at parliament, prime minister Chris Hipkins said this was a clear breach of collective responsibility and cabinet confidentiality. “Stuart Nash has fundamentally breached my trust and the trust of his Cabinet colleagues and his conduct is inexcusable,” he said.
The two recipients of the email were donors. Troy Bowker and Greg Loveridge, via GRL Holdings Ltd, had both donated to Nash. They were also commercial property owners who had an interest in the cabinet decision. “That crosses a line that is totally unacceptable to me,” Hipkins said.
The allegations were first put to the prime minister at about 5pm.
Tonight’s reporting followed Nash losing his police portfolio for breaching the cabinet manual earlier in the month for volunteering his strong opinions on judicial decisions. At least two more allegations came to light in the days, prompting the PM to push Nash to the bottom of the cabinet rankings.
Hipkins said he had sought and been given assurances from Nash in recent weeks that there were no other instances or allegations of misconduct.
“While Stuart was on a final warning, I want to be clear that this incident would have resulted in his dismissal in its own right. I consider the matter to be a very serious one,” said Hipkins.
“This is not information I had two weeks ago. If I had… my decision [two weeks ago] would have been different.”
Nash won’t ever be reinstated as a minister, said Hipkins, and there were wider issues for the Labour Party to consider. For now, Nash remained the MP for Napier.
The PM was asked whether the party had enough money to mount a byelection campaign, saying he would cross that bridge if it comes to it. National’s Christopher Luxon has launched the first push for Nash to resign from parliament entirely. This weekend marks six months until the general election. A byelection won’t be necessary if a resignation takes place after that point.
Asked whether he was angry, Hipkins simply said that his tone and the swiftness of tonight’s decision indicated his feelings on the matter. Nash put up “no defence” when told of his sacking. “I’ve worked with Stuart for a long time… I’m absolutely gutted, to be frank,” added Hipkins.
Also tonight, Newshub reported that Nash, who was until tonight the forestry minister, had received donations from companies involved in the inquiry into forestry slash on the East Coast.
Until new ministers have been appointed – likely within the next week – Megan Woods will be acting minister for economic development and acting minister of forestry and David Parker will be acting minister for oceans and fisheries.
Meka Whaitiri will lead the Hawkes Bay cyclone response on an acting basis.
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