Sep 11, 2008

Helen May Regret Leaving Winston In Situ (2)

More on the boxing connection on Whaleoil. And he has added a connection into Rugby League which was also an interesting read.

Meanwhile Hooton has had a look at Prime Ministerial responsibility

Prime Minister, you are not a mere “observer”

Helen Clark has long been rumoured to be looking for a new job at the UN. Win or lose this election, it is time she took it, because she is no longer even pretending to do the job as our Prime Minister.
This morning, the Prime Minister announced that Winston Peters’
pathetic attempt at providing “evidence” to the Privileges Committee last night provides “no basis for her to remove Mr Peters’ ministerial warrant today”.
In her
press statement, she even goes so far as to describe herself as a mere “observer” in the affair, just waiting for “due process” to be carried out by others.
This is absurd.
It is the Prime Minister being derelict in her duties or, as I put it recently on Nine to Noon, Helen Clark trying to outsource her job.
The Cabinet Office Manual is quite clear that “
Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour“. People are Ministers because the Prime Minister has confidence in them, and for no other reason. It is the sole basis of them being Ministers. Even in the Labour Party where the caucus elects Ministers, the Prime Minister always has the power to fire them if he or she does not have confidence in them. The Prime Minister cannot be a mere observer. The truth is that she, rightly, is the only relevant judge and jury of her Ministers’ conduct and not anyone else.
Privileges Committee Chairman
Simon Power may be doing a good job in that role, but it is not his job to decide who should be a Minister. Nor even is it the Deputy Prime Minister’s job, as Clark seems to be implying, with the Herald reporting this morning that “Prime Minister Helen Clark had been ready to sack Mr Peters as a minister today if Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, who is on the privileges committee, recommended it.”
The Cabinet Office Manual even formalises this in the section on the
Prime Minister’s job description.
2.6 The Prime Minister alone has the right to advise the Governor-General to:

appoint, dismiss, or accept the resignation of Ministers;

What’s more, as Therese Arseneau pointed out last month on
Close Up (at about five minutes after John Key finishes up), it is the Prime Minister’s job, again according to the Cabinet Office Manual, to ensure her Ministers ”behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards“. It is not possible that Clark believes Peters has met this standard. At the very least, he cannot possibly any longer be seen to have upheld the highest ethical standards. It is therefore not possible that a Prime Minister doing their job would continue to have confidence in him.
It is Helen Clark’s job as Prime Minister to act on her own judgement. It is not about “natural justice” or “due process”. If she no longer wants the responsibility that comes with that job, she should act on another section of the Cabinet Office Manual, and advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and hold a general election on the soonest possible date.