Failures: Incompetence, lack of openness & transparency, bullying and cover-ups abound from day one and continue unchecked.
November 2017, on their first day in the house the new government got off to a bad start with a gaffe that could have been avoided, had the newly formed CoL counted correctly. “Both Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said they had the numbers to make Mallard the Speaker of the House, but they wanted him elected unopposed, which wouldn’t have happened if they’d had a vote. Instead the Government had to cave to the Opposition’s demands after National realised a number of government MPs were missing and declared it had an “assumed majority” and would force a vote. That meant National got its wish for more MPs on select committees – Hipkins did a deal with National’s shadow Leader of the House Simon Bridges to increase the number from 96 to 109.”
28 May 2018 the Labour Party accused the National Party of releasing hacked budget information ahead of their Budget release. The Head of Treasury said the budget release would go ahead while they investigated how National Party had obtained Budget information ahead of its release. The government looked pretty stupid when it was revealed that the “hacked” data had not been hacked at all. It was simply downloaded from the budget website.
National accused the Government of a cover-up by deliberately misleading the country for more than 24 hours, allowing New Zealanders to think the Treasury had been hacked, despite the GCSB telling them otherwise.
In 2018 the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications, and Digital Media and Minister for Government Digital Services with associate portfolios for the Accident Compensation Corporation and the State Services Commission, Claire Curran, used her personal email to set up meetings with Carol Hirschfield and Derek Handley, which she not only failed to disclose but also failed to accurately answer questions on. Curran was stripped of ministerial duties and subsequently resigned, effective at the 2020 elections.
In 2018 Minister of Immigration, Ian Lees-Galloway, granted convicted criminal Karel Sroubek NZ residency then claimed he was not a party to crucial missing information about the felon. Nearly a year later the promised review is not finished and “an examination of the quality of decisions made by a minister is outside the scope of the review,” effectively covering up Lees-Galloway’s lapse in judgement.
In August 2018 the PTPM stood MP Meka Whaitiri down for shouting and man-handling a staff member then fired her from cabinet a month later, retaining her position as MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti and co-chair of Labour’s Maori caucus. “This is the second Minister to lose their job in two weeks – one has allegedly assaulted a staff member and the other repeatedly misled the public,” Bridges said. “Each time the Prime Minister has taken only half measures to get things under control.” “Now she’s demoted Meka Whaitiri from Cabinet but left her in charge of Labour’s powerful Maori caucus – and she’s left a trail of unanswered questions.” “Not only is the Prime Minister supporting someone who has shown no remorse but someone who denies anything happened.”
In June 2018 Deputy PM Winston Peters forced Justice Minister Andrew Little to back off from repealing the three strikes law suggesting discord in the CoL. Little said New Zealand First was still committed to broader criminal justice reform – just not in “a piecemeal approach”.
Portfolios frequently changed hands when ministers were sacked or simply didn’t do their jobs, think KiwiBuild. Oftentimes, instead of ministers taking responsibility, dozens of working groups were set up to do their work for them. The role of Chief Technology Officer was taken off Megan Woods and given to “a small group of people” to assist it in mapping policy to guide New Zealand’s digital technology environment.
In February 2019 National spat the dummy about continued undisciplined CoL ministers missing or late for select committee meetings, walking out of an important select committee meeting on the health system and funding new cancer drugs. This sent dozens of submitters back home when a quorum was not formed within the allowable time frame. Simon Bridges was unrepentant “This is a frequent occurrence by this select committee. Labour members are lazy and disorganised.”
In April 2019 The government’s promise of adding an extra 1800 sworn police officers in three years, could end up taking longer. But the Minister of Police, Stuart Nash, was unapologetic about offering up a big, aspirational promise, saying they will reach the 1800 mark, sooner or later. Promises are very difficult for this government to keep despite this being its year of delivery. Nashie is one of the more diligent in the CoL lineup, but even he was thwarted by police behaviour more appropriate for the “keystone cops” than police implementing, admittedly, very poorly drafted gun reform legislation. And at Waikeria Prison, despite a “zero tolerance for violence policy, and any violence or assaults against other prisoners or staff” in April this year “three Waikeria correction officers suffered injuries during altercations with inmates over the weekend.” The prison is ill equipped for the more than 75 per cent of the prison population” with “convictions for violence in their offending histories, and more than 90 per cent” have a “lifetime diagnosis of a mental health or substance abuse disorder.” Peddle harder Nashie, before someone gets killed in there.
In August 2019 Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter ran roughshod over the rules governing ministers by penning a secret transport letter to Phil Twyford. The Nats pointed out the Cabinet Manual is very clear. At 8.25, it notes: ‘Ministers should always be clear about the capacity in which they are creating or using information’. Julie Anne Genter’s secret ‘Let’s Get Wellington Moving’ letter to the Transport Minister was anything but clear. It was written on Ministerial letterhead and signed by her as Associate Transport Minister, yet when the heat came on, she claimed to be merely communicating as the Green Party transport spokesperson. She has answered oral and written questions in parliament about this issue in her capacity as Associate Minister, but won’t answer questions from the media or release her secret letter. Phil Twyford has made things worse by telling media “she was writing as the Associate Minister but expressing a view on behalf of the Green Party so it’s not all that easy to separate those things out”.
Brevity on this subject is impossible given the amount of material. Politicians not mentioned so far include Shane Jones, Golriz Gharaman, Kelvin Davis and Chloe Swarbrick who could each provide flashbacks of poor behaviour and performance, without even touching on the PTPM, who may still be confused about GDP.