Opinion: Something is rotten in the state of beehive.
First up, great that the Prime Minister has asked the cabinet office to review all of Stuart Nash’s communications with his cash donors but beyond appalling that the PM is using that as a smokescreen to hide behind and avoid accountability now.
"The advice I’ve had from the cabinet office is that will take two months and I will await the outcome of that review before making any further decisions or comment on it," Hipkins said in Parliament.
And zero assurances all communications will be reviewed - nor an explanation of this very questionable erasing of possible evidence…
"Has he asked Stuart Nash why his Facebook account appears to have been deleted last night?" Luxon asked.
Hipkins responded in a single word... "No."
A sound of 'ohhhhh' echoed out following the PM's response.
Forestry, fishing, tourism - Nash has been minister of industries with very powerful lobbies. And he takes cash from them. And then what?
"I will await the outcome of that review before making any further comment on the matter," said Hipkins.
And here’s where the rot really starts to stink. When was the Prime Minister’s office first made aware of the email which saw Nash sacked - the one where he divulged confidential cabinet information to cash donors with a vested interest in the information?
"I did ask this morning... ah last night for review to identify whether the office had in any way been aware of that communication prior to that," said Hipkins.
"My understanding is that in 2021, Stuart Nash's then ministerial office consulted the office of the then Prime Minister, on an Offical Information Act (OIA) request release, where that email had been identified as part of that release and was identified as being outside the scope of the review…
"Neither the Prime Minister of the time, nor the PM's chief of staff of the time was made aware of that."
"Disgrace!" "Boo!" "Cover-up!" can be heard in outbursts from the opposition.
Nicola Willis shouting out in the background there seems right. This does have the hallmarks of a cover-up.
Jacinda Ardern’s Office knew - it looks like they colluded with Nash’s office to keep that offending email - that smoking gun - a secret from the public.
And what, no one told the former PM or her chief of staff? No one alerted this new Prime Minister even after he put Nash on his third and final warning?
And then the Prime Minister - without a hint of irony - declares that everything is hunky dory, Stuart Nash is squeaky clean, has done everything by the book... Whaaat?
"I can confirm that all Stuart Nash's donations, to the best of my knowledge, have been publicly declared and transparently," said Hipkins.
"Any conflicts of interest that he had were registered with the Cabinet Office, using the usual process."
Right. The same Stuart Nash who gave the Prime Minister assurances that there were no other skeletons in his closet after those first three strikes.
Something is very rotten. And just cause Hipkins has cut out the source of the rot, I’m not feeling particularly assured that the government’s going to get to the bottom of how deep that rot goes.
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