The Prime Minister has released the Cabinet Secretary’s report into former minister, Stuart Nash’s communications with donors.
Mr Hipkins said the report does not identify any instances, other than those that led to his dismissal, in which he shared information with declared donors in a manner inconsistent with the Cabinet Manual.
“Stuart Nash was dismissed as a Minister for his communications with donors and close personal associates that commented on a Cabinet decision. This report does not identify any further communications where the Cabinet Manual principles of confidentiality, collective responsibility or conflicts of interest were breached,” Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.
It identifies one instance in which he identified a conflict of interest and took substantive steps in relation to an appointment of a close associate and donor. The report concludes further steps were required to fully manage the conflict, but that it is at the lower level in terms of inconsistency with the Cabinet Manual.
“In relation to the appointment of a close associate and donor to an advisory board he did take actions to manage the conflict, including removing himself from the appointment process,” said Mr Hipkins.
“The report concludes he should have also declared his interest when Cabinet signed off the appointment and made it clear that another Minister was responsible but the review finds that this is at the lower end of transgressions and in fairness to Stuart he did take actions to manage the conflict. It’s a helpful reminder of the importance of Ministers making sure their conflicts are fully managed.
Alongside the report, the Cabinet Secretary is proactively releasing relevant communications with Mr Nash’s donors, the Prime Minister said.
“I would note two things. First, as the Cabinet Manual says, everyone has the right to make representations to Ministers on matters that concern them, and second, Ministers cannot control the communications others send to them.”
“When I asked for this review, I wanted to satisfy myself there were no other instances where confidential Cabinet information was shared with donors. I’m pleased that there were none.
“Stuart Nash has already paid the ultimate price for his actions by being removed as a Minister. He is also retiring from politics at the upcoming election,” Mr Hipkins said.
Read the proactive release here.