Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeNew ZealandChristopher Luxon calls for Nanaia Mahuta to be sacked over entrenchment clause

Christopher Luxon calls for Nanaia Mahuta to be sacked over entrenchment clause

Christopher Luxon

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National Party leader Christopher Luxon
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says the prime minister should sack Nanaia Mahuta, but Jacinda Ardern says the minister of local government has not breached the Cabinet manual.

Luxon and Ardern clashed in the debating chamber this afternoon, Luxon accusing Mahuta of having broken the Cabinet manual by supporting in Parliament a position that went against Cabinet’s decision.

“Has she lost so much control over her Cabinet that she’s either unwilling or unable to remove a minister who has openly defied her,” he asked.

Ardern maintains Mahuta has not breached the rules, however.

“The minister has not defied cabinet, the minister has not broken the cabinet manual, Mr Speaker again I accept the member hasn’t been here very long but it was an SOP (supplementary order paper) from another party,” she said.

Luxon’s claim is based on a Cabinet paper from 30 May in which Cabinet agreed the three waters legislation should not entrench the privatisation provisions.

Labour subsequently voted to support a Green Party SOP, an amendment, to protect those privatisation provisions with a clause requiring 60 percent of the House to overturn, but after an outcry from constitutional lawyers reversed that.

Ardern has continually said entrenchment is commonly understood to mean the 75 percent threshold applied to specific electoral matters, and described the lower 60 percent threshold as “quirky” and “novel”.

Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta


Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

During her speech, which appeared to support the Green Party’s amendment when it was introduced under urgency, Mahuta said there was a moral obligation for those who opposed privatisation of water infrastructure to back entrenchment.

Luxon asked if this meant Ardern was willing to tolerate one of her ministers deliberately keeping her in the dark.

“Why has she not taken any action over Minister Mahuta saying in this house ‘there is a moral obligation of people who believe that privatisation should not occur to support that particular SOP’,” he asked.

Ardern said Mahuta had not breached the manual.

“Yes that is what the cabinet manual says, yes the member (Mahuta) did continue to uphold the Cabinet decision, the member (Luxon) actually though is asking a question about another party’s SOP. Again I come back to the principal point – Labour maintains its position that you should never sell these assets.”

Luxon said Ardern was allowing Mahuta to “blatantly defy her by standing up in Parliament to speak in support of something Cabinet had collectively agreed not to support”.

Ardern said Luxon was misrepresenting Mahuta’s actions, and fired back at him.

“As a party we have always stood against the notion of privatisation,” she said. “What we’ve come to is a question over whether or not a mechanism like entrenchment should be used for those purposes.

“Our view is it should be removed but we still stand by keeping them in public ownership. Has the member?”

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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