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Another MP set to hit the exit

Where there’s smoke there’s fire was National’s verdict on the sacking of Stuart Nash.

It’s clear Stuff had been thinking along the same lines – and they got the tea.

After the Labour minister accidentally revealed a few weeks ago he had encouraged the police commissioner to appeal a decision – costing him the police portfolio – it seems it was only a matter of time before more hot liquid would be spilt.

On Tuesday night, Stuff reported that after a Cabinet meeting in 2020, Nash emailed two businessmen – who were also his donors – about discussions on potential rent relief.

Although it is not clear anyone benefited from the breach, the colossal breach of Cabinet confidentiality was likened to insider trading by Opposition leader Christopher Luxon, who called for Nash to resign from Parliament, which would trigger a by-election in the Napier electorate.

Nash has since unequivocally rejected Luxon’s call to resign, while Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has said Nash’s future in the Labour Party “is up to him”.

The analysis so far seems to align with Act Party Leader David Seymour’s summation: Nash is clearly hapless but not necessarily malicious.

It caps off a swift and rather embarrassing series of sackings by Labour – Te Whatu Ora’s chair Rob Campbell for a pot-shot at National’s Three Waters policy on Linked In [of all places], and former Labour MP Guarav [can’t stop leaking] Sharma’s expulsion after a raft of stunning bullying allegations that he is yet to provide any evidence of.

But let’s not forget the other unceremonious parliamentary exits during the past decade.

In 2013, Aaron Gilmore was forced to resign after reports he had been warned about sending inappropriate emails while working at a government department.

The revelation came hot on the heels of allegations he had verbally abused a waiter at a Hamner Springs hotel who had refused to serve his dinner party more wine.

Then-Prime Minister John Key said Gilmore’s resignation was the right thing to do.

In 2017, Todd Barclay – another National MP – was accused of clandestinely recording one of his staffers, and later that year Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei revealed she had committed one-time benefit fraud. Both retired from Parliament under a cloud.

Not quite an ousting, but also worth a mention is David Clark’s 2020 gaff, which led to his demotion.

The Labour MP had the public crying foul after he was found guilty of flouting covid-19 guidelines during the first lockdowns – a grave misstep, given he was health minister at the time, although it was his criticism of Ashley Bloomfield that triggered his resignation from that role. Clark has signalled he’ll be exiting politics at this year’s general election.

The award for controversial character of the decade, however, must go to Jamie Lee Ross.

In 2018, Ross was expelled from the National Party for disloyalty. A day after it was revealed he had been leaking information about then-party leader Simon Bridges’ expenses, he alleged in a live press conference that Bridges was corrupt.

Since then, Ross has run an unsuccessful campaign as the leader of Advance NZ but is now allegedly running an escort service.

That’s unlikely to be Nash’s trajectory, but he can at least take heart from Ross’ ability to reinvent himself; a modern-day – if severely tarnished – phoenix from the ashes.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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