Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins says Minister Stuart Nash’s failure to use established process when approached about an immigration case last year was an instance of poor judgement but did not warrant his dismissal from the Government.
Mr Hipkins says he was made aware of the matter last night.
“In September last year, acting as the local MP for Napier, [Mr Nash] contacted a senior official at MBIE to ask him to take a look at an immigration case of a health professional in his electorate,” the Prime Minister said.
“In doing so he did not use the established process for Ministers and MPs to advocate in an immigration case.
“Minister Nash has assured me there is no personal or other connection between the person in his electorate and him, and he was only intervening to ensure his electorate did not lose a much needed health professional.
Mr Hipkins said there is a well-established process and channel for Ministers and MPs to advocate on immigration cases and the Cabinet Manual is clear that Ministers should bear in mind that they have the capacity to exercise considerable influence over the public service.
“I want to be clear that I think the public servants involved in these cases have acted appropriately,” the PM said.
“This latest instance demonstrates a pattern of behaviour which does not reach the standard I expect from ministers.
“However it is also clear in his pattern of behaviour that Stuart is not acting to achieve personal gain from his actions.”
The cases in question represent more Mr Nash’s desire to get things done in his portfolios and on behalf of his communities, the Prime Minister asserted.
“Stuart also speaks in a colloquial manner that often reflects the sentiments of a significant proportion of the community, but he needs to take greater care to ensure that what he says and how he says in upholds the standards expected of a Cabinet minister.”
“We have processes and rules for a reason, and in part that is to avoid the sorts of questions Stuart is now facing.
“Having considered the thresholds used by previous Prime Ministers I have decided the appropriate penalty is to demote Stuart Nash and place him on a final warning.
“This demotion reflects both his poor judgement on process and his failure to alert me to these past instances.
“I have repeated that point to him and made clear that any further lapses will result in his dismissal as a Minister.
“As I have said his actions reflect poor judgment, but the specifics of each incident do not warrant dismissal.”