Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Breaching the cabinet manual is not a firing offence

post has been updated
Ian Wishart has been advised that Winston Peters has breached the Cabinet Manual again for not getting approval for a trip to Las Vegas to see a boxing match. The Hive and Hooton say this is a sackable offence.

I disagree. It is not a firing offence unless the Prime Minister says it is. If it was, Winston Peters would already be fired. The Cabinet Manual - like the Cabinet itself, has no basis in legislation. The former is a guideline and the latter a constitutional convention. In the forward to the Cabinet Manual, Helen Clark says:
The Cabinet Manual guides Cabinet's procedure. The Cabinet Manual is an authoritative guide to central government decision making for Ministers, their offices, and those working within government. It is also a primary source of information on New Zealand's constitutional arrangements, as seen through the lens of the executive branch of government. Successive governments have endorsed the Cabinet Manual as a sound, transparent, and proven basis on which to operate.I urge all those working in government to use the new Cabinet Manual and follow the guidance it contains.
It also says that ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour and must behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold the highest ethical standards.

So, low ethical standards and a complete disregard for the Cabinet Manual is not a firing offence. If it was, Helen Clark would be hypocritical in remaining as Prime Minister if she sacked Winston Peters because of a breach of the manual.

update Wishart was also told that the PM didn't know about Peters' detour until two weeks ago, but was that because that information was withheld from her by officials, or did she actually know and the PMs press secretary didn't bother to check with the PM before responding to Wishart?

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Blogger Keeping Stock said...

Dave - it may not be a sacking offence per se, but at the speed with which Clark has been distancing herself from Peters over the last few days, it might be just the excuse she needs, without having to wait for natural justice and all that...

September 15, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Swimming said...

.. and any such decision to sack Peters will have nothing to do with the cabinet manual.

Distancing herself from Peters is nothing to do with Peter's indiscretions, and everything to do with public mood of his indiscretions and the implications it has on Labour.

In Clark's view, law, policy and guidelines mean nothing against political expediency .

September 15, 2008 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Keeping Stock said...

Exactly Dave, and Clark, based on past form, would not hesitate to dump Peters on spurious grounds if she saw political advantage. She already has a precedent in this term with Taito Phillip Field who was summarily dumped from the Labour causcus, not for the crime of suggesting that he might go it alone, but for making the suggestion on the day of the PM's State of the Nation speech.

September 15, 2008 at 4:40 PM  

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