Armstrong says Ardern needs a backbone

John Armstrong writes:

When is Jacinda Ardern going to stop displaying all the backbone of a spineless jellyfish and start reminding Winston Peters who is the boss?

Ouch. Harsh. True.

Once it it became public that the commission’s findings had been passed to the Serious Fraud Office, Peters’ relinquishing of his status of Deputy Prime Minister ought to have been a mere formality, if only a temporary measure while the SFO determined whether everything was above board or whether prosecutions should follow its investigation.

And this is what Clark did – have Peters stand down.

With his party’s poll rating dropping the floor and Simon Bridges neutering New Zealand First by declaring National won’t be forming any kind of government which includes Peters’ outfit, he is currently a more prickly customer than ever.

He hasn’t got a lot of options. It would seem to be an opportune time to remind him of that. He is hardly in a position to pull down the Government.

That makes Ardern’s failure to talk tough appear even more gutless.

Exactly. The last thing Winston wants is an early election.

The revelation that he was party to the covert photographing and filming of journalists whose investigations of the New Zealand First Foundation have uncovered much to embarrass him and his party is a clear breach of the provisions in the Cabinet Manual covering the conduct expected of ministers of the crown.

To quote that handbook: “At all times, ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. This includes exercising a professional approach and good judgement in their interactions with the public and officials, and in all their communications, personal and professional”.

Having by his own confession confirmed his failure to meet such high standards, Peters then issued a denial that he or his party had anything to do with any such dodgy behaviour.

It might be news to him, but Peters does not command a salary of close to $330,000 plus expenses for the purpose of making fools of the rest of us. Or himself for that matter.

Sadly it seems it does.

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