Reasons to dump Winston Peters
Garth George has outlined eignt more reasons to dump Clark.
However Matthew Hooton has a reason to dump Peters and its better than George's eight reasons to dump Clark combined. It has nothing to do with the Privileges Committee hearing, and everything to do with Winston Peters' behaviour - although the hearing does reflect Peters' past behaviour.
The Cabinet Office Manual is quite clear that “Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour“. People are Ministers because the Prime Minister has confidence in them, and for no other reason. It is the sole basis of them being Ministers.But the Cabinet Manual is irrelevant, as if you break these rules there are no consequences. Helen Clark only obeys laws when there are consequences for not doing so. That's her standard.
It is the Prime Minister’s job, again according to the Cabinet Office Manual, to ensure her Ministers ”behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards“. It is not possible that Clark believes Peters has met this standard. At the very least, he cannot possibly any longer be seen to have upheld the highest ethical standards. It is therefore not possible that a Prime Minister doing their job would continue to have confidence in him.
It is Helen Clark’s job as Prime Minister to act on her own judgement. It is not about “natural justice” or “due process”. If she no longer wants the responsibility that comes with that job, she should act on another section of the Cabinet Office Manual, and advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and hold a general election on the soonest possible date.