I’ve had formal confirmation that Winston Peters is still a Minister of the Crown. He has been stood down from his portfolios, but not as a Minister.
What does this mean?
He has no ministerial work to do, but still has all the baubles of office!
This “standing down” is in fact brilliant for him. He can campaign full-time, using all his Ministerial resources, without having to actually do any Ministerial work. No wonder he agreed.
The NZ Herald front page incorrectly said:
As a minister, Winston Peters enjoys some of what he has previously described as “baubles of office”. His standing down will see him stripped of at least some of these.
- Salary drops from $195,700 as Minister outside Cabinet to $145,900
- Free ministerial house.
- Shiny, new chauffeur-driven BMW ministerial car.
- VIP diplomatic passport.
- All expenses paid international travel.
They got it wrong (to be fair to them they probably assumed a stand down involved some sort of well loss of benefit, and they were up against a deadline). He keeps all of these, but that is not the main thing he keeps.
He keeps his staff. Currently his staff are funded by both Ministerial Services and The Parliamentary Service. But the leader’s office budget from The Parliamentary Service is only $485,920, or including the research funding $639,920. That isn’t a lot. But the Ministerial Office budget tends to be close to or over a million a year. That means Winston will keep all his staff (except those that are portfolio specific), which is very useful in a campaign.
How long will Winston be kept on as a Minister without portfolio?
Winston gives the impression the SFO investigation will be over by Monday.
However the 2002 investigation into a donation to National took two months, or eight weeks, to conclude. Will Helen keep Winston on as Minister without portfolio for eight weeks? That’s a lot of baubles in return for no work.
UPDATE: TVNZ have just made the same mistake and said that “he has been relieved of a large chunk of his pay packet and other Ministerial perks”.
TV3 got it right though. Thank goodness someone did.