Three Five Waters has been badly handled from the very start. Why hasn’t the Minister responsible for the entrenchment debacle been sacked?
Nanaia Mahuta’s open defiance of Cabinet rules shows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has lost control of her Cabinet, Leader of the Opposition Christopher Luxon says.
“Cabinet agreed on May 30 ‘that the [Water Services Entities] Bill should not entrench the privatisation provisions in the Bill’. Despite ruling out entrenchment of any form or threshold, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta openly defied the Prime Minister and forcefully backed the entrenchment clause in the House two weeks ago.
“In that speech, Ms Mahuta led the charge for the Government, claiming a ‘moral obligation’ of those opposed to privatisation to support entrenchment of the provision. Labour then unanimously voted for it.
“But Cabinet opposed any form or threshold of entrenchment, not just one requiring 75 per cent support. Therefore, the Minister’s claim that her efforts to entrench aspects of the Bill with a 60 per cent threshold is somehow different, is nonsense.
Jacinda Ardern called it novel. That too is nonsense.
“The Cabinet Manual is clear. It says, “once Cabinet makes a decision, Ministers must support it, regardless of their personal views”. Yet despite breaching the Cabinet Manual and openly defying her colleagues and the Prime Minister, Ms Mahuta remains a Minister.
“Three Waters is a debacle. Not only is the Government confiscating assets from community ownership, but in an effort to rush it through urgency, the responsible Minister tried to sneak in unconstitutional and undemocratic entrenchment provisions against Cabinet guidelines.
“For a Minister to openly defy a Cabinet decision, shows that the Prime Minister has lost control of her Cabinet.
“It’s time for Jacinda Ardern to show some leadership, hold Ms Mahuta accountable, and sack her.”
If this has happened under any recent Prime Minister – Bill English, John Key, Helen Clark, Jenny Shipley – the Minister would no longer be a Minister so why hasn’t she been sacked?
That Mahuta still has her job makes it look like either she has a hold over Ardern, or Ardern is too weak to sack her.
Neither is acceptable and neither would have been the case for any other recent PM.