Statement from the Prime Minister on Stuart Nash

Prime Minister

Last night I was made aware of a further situation involving Stuart Nash.

In September last year, acting as the local MP for Napier, he contacted a senior official at MBIE to ask him to take a look at an immigration case of a health professional in his electorate.

In doing so he did not use the established process for Ministers and MPs to advocate in an immigration case. 

Minister Nash has assured me there is no personal or other connection between the person in his electorate and him, and he was only intervening to ensure his electorate did not lose a much needed health professional.

Nevertheless, there is a well-established process and channel for Ministers and MPs to advocate on immigration cases and the Cabinet Manual is clear that Ministers should bear in mind that they have the capacity to exercise considerable influence over the public service.

I want to be clear that I think the public servants involved in these cases have acted appropriately. 

This latest instance demonstrates a pattern of behaviour which does not reach the standard I expect from ministers.

However it is also clear in his pattern of behaviour that Stuart is not acting to achieve personal gain from his actions.

The cases in question represent more his desire to get things done in his portfolios and on behalf of his communities.

Stuart also speaks in a colloquial manner that often reflects the sentiments of a significant proportion of the community, but he needs to take greater care to ensure that what he says and how he says in upholds the standards expected of a Cabinet minister.

We have processes and rules for a reason, and in part that is to avoid the sorts of questions Stuart is now facing.

Having considered the thresholds used by previous Prime Ministers I have decided the appropriate penalty is to demote Stuart Nash and place him on a final warning.

This demotion reflects both his poor judgement on process and his failure to alert me to these past instances.

I have repeated that point to him and made clear that any further lapses will result in his dismissal as a Minister.

As I have said his actions reflect poor judgment, but the specifics of each incident do not warrant dismissal.