Who’s in charge?

Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins both say they knew nothing about entrenching a clause in the Three Five Waters legislation until after it was done:

. . . Remarks from Ardern and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins on Monday made it clear that there were mixed levels of knowledge of the amendment among Labour’s leadership, despite Labour voting in support of the amendment.

“The last I had heard was for a 75 per cent entrenchment which would have failed with only Labour and the Greens supporting it,” Ardern said.

“I wasn’t aware until after the fact that that had been lowered to 60 per cent – I wasn’t in the House when it happened,” Hipkins said. . . 

That begs the question who did know?:

. . . Nanaia Mahuta as the responsible minister, however, knew exactly what was going on.

“We know that while this particular SOP [supplementary order paper] may not pass the constitutional threshold, there is a moral obligation of people who believe that privatisation should not occur to support that particular SOP,” she told the House at the time. . . 

That begs another question: why, when it was such a controversial move, that conflicted with official advice and set a very dangerous precedent, didn’t she tell her leader?

Given that she didn’t, why not and what are the repercussions?

Can you imagine what former Prime Ministers Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley, Jim Bolger  . . . would have said and done had a Minister slipped a sly and anti-democratic move into any  Bill, let alone legislation that is so unpopular?

The current PM has said and done nothing publicly to indicate that she’s doing anything at all to haul Mahuta back and she’s dissembling over the debacle:

The Prime Minister is deliberately dissembling over the Three Waters entrenchment debacle and should simply admit Labour’s mistake and fix it, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

“After constitutional law experts publicly admonished Labour for its use of an unconstitutional entrenchment provision in the Three Waters legislation, the Prime Minister should have admitted the mistake and said Labour would fix it.

“Instead, Jacinda Ardern not only attempted to confuse the issue, but she also attempted to make it one for Parliament’s Business Committee.

“The Business Committee has nothing to do with this. It is Labour and the Greens’ mistake, and they need to fix it.

“Entrenchment should only be used for constitutional matters, and only after careful thought and debate, not during a rushed process like this was.

“The Prime Minister needs to stop the dissembling. She is misleading the public, and protecting Labour Ministers and Members who created this problem.

“Labour should refer the Water Services Entities Bill back to Parliament to remove the offensive entrenchment provision.

“The fact that Ms Ardern and Mr Hipkins claim they were not aware of the provisions is a further sign that the Three Waters legislation has been a rushed, sloppy process. Not only are they not across the legislation, but they are also clearly not in control of their caucus, which voted for the Green Party’s proposal in the first place.

“Labour could resolve the issue quickly. Instead, it seems determined to deny it has made a mistake in the legislation which would set a dangerous precedent and undermine New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.”

The lack of any action against the Minister and the dissembling over the debacle begs another question: who’s in charge?

It looks more and more that it is Mahuta and her Maori caucus colleagues and that they hold disproportionate power in government.

2 Responses to Who’s in charge?

  1. pdm1946 says:

    T he question of who is in charge of the Labour Parliamentary Party is easily answered.

    1. Willie Jackson – Organ Grinder
    2. Nanaia Mahuta – Facilitator
    3. Maori Caucus – Supporters and Enablers
    4. Jacinda Ardern – Front person when required
    5. Grant Robertson – Front person if Jacinda is away.
    6. Chris Hipkins – Spokesperson when things turn to crap as mostly happens.


  2. Preventing the privatisation of a vital public service and infrastructure is not really the issue here, it’s the conspiratorial underhand way in which Mahuta and Sage went about it that is the real bone of contention.
    Had they succeeded, what was the next step, entrenching co-governance perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

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