Ardern says voters should do what she won’t

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister has delivered her strongest rebuking of NZ First MP and Minister yet, suggesting that if he was a Labour MP, he would face demotion.

She also urged voters to condemn Jones’ comments – which have been labelled “” and “irresponsible” by the Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon – and to “act on their values when it comes to election time”.

So the PM is saying she won’t take any action against one of her Cabinet Ministers but she wants voters to. Wow.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Ardern said she “vehemently” disagreed with Jones’ comments.

But asked if the comments were racist, Ardern again would not explicitly say they were.

What she had already said publicly was the “strongest condemnation I could possibly give [Jones’] comments”.

Oh get real. Saying you disagree with them is not the strongest condemnation you could possibly give. It is close to the weakest you could give.

She again cited the fact that Jones being in a different party to Labour as the reason why she has not gone further in her reprimand.

“If I had a member within my own party making statements like that, I would have a very obvious ability and course of action that I could take,” she said.

“I could demote, I could reprimand; [there is] a range of things that I could do.”

But all those things were off the table because – although Jones is one of her ministers – he is in a different political party.

This is again factually incorrect. She could do any number of things such as:

  • Remove him from the Executive
  • Move him from inside Cabinet to Minister outside Cabinet
  • Take an Associate portfolio off him (the Coalition agreement allows this)
  • Declare his remarks incompatible with remaining a Minister and give him a final warning

All of this can be done without breaching the Coalition Agreement as the Coalition Agreement only states there will be four Ministers, not that Shane Jones must be one of them.

“My message to voters is this: In election year, the power now sits with you. You determine who is able to form Governments and you have it within your power to decide what you make of those remarks, as well,” she said.

“What is within other’s powers is to join in the condemnation of statements, like those we have seen made by Shane Jones.

“I asked of voters to act on their values when it comes to election time.”

And my values are I’m happy to have a racist Cabinet Minister in my Government.

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