I was interviewed by Radio New Zealand about ACT’s stance on the Maori Seats. The interview was here.
There were in fact two interviews. The first I was not at all critical of what had happened. As I have said on this blog, I think it is quite appropriate that Rodney says he could not carry on as Local Government Minister if it means introducing a bill he does not agree with.
They then rang me back half an hour later and said that Rodney was now saying he would quit all his portfolios if the Government went with Maori seats. This appears to not be a correct interpretation of what Rodney actually said – I understand he said it would be up to the PM if he kept his other portfolios. On the basis of what Radio NZ told me, I said that a threat to resign all portfolios would be a significant upping of the stakes and unhelpful.
In a later part of the piece, they quote me saying that while ACT supporters may be pleased with Rodney’s strong stand, the way he has gone about it is somewhat disappointing. I want to make clear that was in relation to the reported comments to resign all portfolios, not the decision (made back in June) to relinquish Local Government if there were Maori Seats.
I am also quoted as saying “It is generally preferable that negotiations happen behind closed doors and without ultimatiums about resigning portfolios”. This gives the perception I am blaming Rodney for this issue going public. I am not.
As I wrote for NBR on Friday:
Act also suffers from the publicizing of the leaked e-mail. …
I think that is unfair on Rodney as he was not the one who leaked the National Caucus e-mail – I doubt he is that happy this has been made public.
I in no way think Rodney was responsible for taking this issue public. I have specifically pointed out they have suffered from it being made public.
I don’t know who leaked the e-mail, but as it was sent by a National MP to his colleagues, the logicial conclusion is it was a National MP or staffer. I doubt Rodney has hired Nicky hager to intercept the Nats e-mails
So in summary my position is:
- I think it is entirely appropriate that Rodney has said he would not continue as Local Government Minister if he seriosuly disagrees with a Local Government bill or law proposed or passed by the Government
- I think it was someone in National who leaked the Henare e-mail
- I do think it would be a bad thing, if Rodney was threatening to resign all portfolios, rather than just Local Government, in relation to this issue. However it is not at all clear he has done so.