Dismissal of Rt Hon Winston Peters

  • Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

The Prime Minister announced today that she had advised the Governor-General to dismiss Mr Peters immediately from his Ministerial responsibilities as Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer.

On the Prime Minister's advice, the Governor General has appointed Bill Birch to the office of Treasurer. Mr Birch will also continue as Minister of Finance.

Setting out the reasons for the dismissal in a letter to Mr Peters, the Prime Minister said:

It is my view that you have shown a refusal to accept Cabinet collective responsibility. Further, you have publicly criticised Government policy regarding the sale of the Crown's shareholding in Wellington Airport, and your actions and statements regarding the sale (which expressly or impliedly deny the right of the purchaser to rely on a sales process of integrity) are unacceptable. Further, your unfounded allegations in Parliament that I have breached some alleged undertakings make it untenable for you to remain as a Cabinet Minister.

Mrs Shipley said it is with great sadness that she has felt it is necessary to take this step.

The Prime Minister said that she had the responsibility to the country to ensure that Cabinet was able to perform its functions and duties in accordance with the important principle of collective responsibility. That was critical in maintaining public confidence in executive decision-making and the reputation of New Zealand.

I have also written to all other Ministers of New Zealand First informing them that they would retain their Ministerial responsibility in the meantime. I have asked each of them to meet me and to give me a personal commitment that they understand the obligations of collective responsibility and to give me an undertaking they are willing to comply with those obligations.

The Prime Minister has asked that the Coalition Disputes Committee be called together in order to have the principles of collective responsibility confirmed as a clearly understood requirement of the Coalition.

I hope this process can get underway next week and I have sought to set up the appropriate arrangements, Mrs Shipley concluded.