Worth resigns

Just announced:

STATEMENT FROM DR

“It is with deep regret that I have resigned my role as a Minister.

“I am resigning from the role for personal reasons.

“I tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister last night and he accepted.

“It has been a privilege to have been a Minister in this Government.

“I will not be making any further comment to the media.

“I have been granted two weeks’ leave of absence from the House.”

I will blog more details as they are known.

John Key says:

Prime Minister John Key says he has accepted the resignation of Dr Richard Worth as a Minister in the National-led Government.

“Dr Worth tendered his resignation to me last night, and I have accepted it.

“He advised me of some private matters in respect of which he felt it appropriate that he should resign as a Minister. I accepted his resignation and have advised the Governor-General accordingly.

“I will not be making further comment on the matters he has advised me about.

“Dr Worth’s ministerial responsibilities will be temporarily transferred to Maurice Williamson. I will be making an announcement about permanent appointments to the portfolios in the near future.”

Now this is just ridicolous. You can’t have a secret resignation – or a resignation for undisclosed reasons. The Government is bonkers if they think the reasons won’t come out, let alone that they do not have a duty to disclose them. And refusing to state the reasons will keep it as a story for days and weeks, instead of a three day wonder.

If you resign as a Minister, you need to say why you are resigning. Not the full details, but at least some reason.

Worth was Minister of Internal Affairs, Land Information, Archives, National Library and Associate Justice. It will be interesting if his portfolios get dished out to other Ministers, or will there be an early promotion for a backbencher?

UPDATE2: The more I think about this, the more stupid it is not to state why he has resigned. As in majorly stupid. The public will wonder what the Government is hiding, the Opposition will assume the worst, the media will dig up dirt until they find the reason, and the Governments looks shifty. Before it is too late, the Government should arrange for either Key or Worth to explain why Worth resigned – the public have a right to know. Or they should at least leak the reson damn quick, so the story doesn’t go on for weeks and weeks.

UPDATE3: I am hearing that there will be a new Minister appointed and it is between Chief Whip Nathan Guy and Finance & Expenditure Select Committee Chair Craig Foss.

UPDATE4: Worth is the subject of a criminal investigation. This would explain why there are no details, but would have been easier if they had said this was the case from the beginning. NZPA reports:

Wellington police said today an allegation had been made against “a sitting member of Parliament”.

Police were conducting a preliminary investigation.

Prime Minister John Key accepted Dr Worth’s resignation last night.

Mr Key told reporters he would have sacked Dr Worth, had he not resigned. He confirmed it was criminal investigation.

It is the right thing that Worth has gone as a Minister of he is facing a criminal investigation.

Mr Key was alerted to the matter last week, before the MP told him about it.

Ouch. That would not be a good look.

Now no doubt in time the details of the investigation and any charges against Worth will be made public. He is of course innocent until found guilty, but I think it is fair to conclude his parliamentary career is all but over.

It is premature to speculate, but Cam Calder may end up an MP yet.

UPDATE5: Key has not been subtle at his press conference.

“All I can tell you is his conduct does not befit a minister and I will not have him in my Cabinet,” Mr Key told a press conference this morning.

“If he hadn’t resigned I would have sacked him.” …

Mr Key said an outside party had informed his office of the allegation of a “relatively recent” incident last week.

Dr Worth had not come to him about it.

Dr Worth has been given a two-week leave of absence from Parliament: “because I think he needs some time to reflect on his future and whether he intends to stay as an MP”.

Mr Key said it was up to Dr Worth to decide whether to leave Parliament, but if police laid charges he may be suspended or expelled from Caucus.

`Ultimately whether he stays as a member of parliament is a matter at this point for him to consider.

“I urge him to consider his own future, and take counsel with his own family and friends.

“It may be in the fullness of time he is not appropriate to be a member of parliament. But that is not something I can adjudicate on at this time.”

Mr Key said the resignation had nothing to do with those.

“The decision that has been reached today has been reached on the back of this incident and nothing else.”

The allegations sound pretty dire, to say the least. But great to see Key set such a firm line on behaviour. I remember Clark and Cullen defending Field for months.

I was probably a bit too harsh before in criticising the Government’s handling of this.  Key has now provided the reason for the resignation, without going into details which are a matter for the Police inquiry. The original PR though said no further comment would be made, and then Key does a press conference so I think the message could have been better – but can’t really fault Key’s response now.

UPDATE6: NewstalkZB reports:

The Prime Minister has dropped another bombshell on his way into the debating chamber, revealing it is not the first time he has investigated Richard Worth for allegedly harassing women.

Dr Worth has today resigned from Cabinet and is being investigated by police. Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper says it is clear from what John Key says, that it involves a woman.

I may be wrong but all the indications are that it seems to be some sort of allegation of sexual assault. Now that is not confirmed, and no doubt the Police will in time say something, but I understand TV tonight is likely to report along these lines.

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