SST Political Editor Helen Bain focuses on what the retention of Benson-Pope means:
Last week’s events just reconfirmed the impression of a dodgy, lying minister. And if that is good enough for Helen Clark, then it is probably going to have to be good enough for the rest of us.
We may not like the lowering of standards in our parliament; we may not accept that Benson-Pope meets the standard of honesty and integrity that we require of a cabinet minister. But there is little we can do about it.
Clark has clearly counted on voters forgetting about Benson-Pope by the time the next election rolls around in 2008. That price may yet prove to be underestimated by Clark. The government has lowered the standard, and runs the risk that it will be measured by that same standard.
And the SST in an editorial says:
Helen Clark should sack David Benson-Pope. The issue is no longer exactly what her minister did while he was a school teacher. That has become an increasingly messy matter of debate. What is clear is that Benson-Pope misled the House, and the country, last year when he said he could not recall any complaint against him. His former principal has now rebutted that claim. It is obvious there were complaints about Benson-Pope’s behaviour during a school camp, and his denials are unconvincing. The question is whether the minister’s word can be trusted. Given his performance in parliament last year, the answer must be: no, it can’t.