“Stuart Nash must leave Parliament,” says the National Party Deputy Leader. “A stench is now swirling around the Government and Hipkins must act swiftly to clear it.”

New Zealand prides itself on being globally recognised as one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

Successive Governments have worked hard to maintain that reputation and to uphold the integrity of Cabinet decision-making: including by carefully managing Ministers’ potential conflicts of interest and keeping Cabinet discussions secret.

Stuart Nash’s actions have thrown all that in the air.

In 2020 he wrote to two business people (who were also donors) about Cabinet’s decisions on a proposed policy change affecting the obligations of commercial landlords and their tenants. In doing so, Nash gave donors confidential Government information they had an interest in – information so secret that most New Zealanders could never dream of getting it. That stinks.

Nash has not not only disgraced himself and his Party, he has brought the integrity of New Zealand’s political system into disrepute.

The only reason we know this is that Nash got caught.

Big questions now need to be asked.

– Had Nash leaked from Cabinet before?

– Had he properly declared and managed personal interests that might have been influencing his decision making?

– How long has Minister Nash been operating according to a totally different set of rules than anyone else?

– Are other Ministers doing this sort of thing too?

– Are Ministers properly declaring potential conflicts of interests?

– Are Ministers being improperly influenced by their personal interests?

This sorry episode also gives a new slant to another worrying episode dating from Nash’s time as the Minister of Tourism.

Last year the Auditor General published a report criticising the management of a $290m Government tourism grant scheme that Nash was responsbile for. The Auditor-General called-out a lack of clarity and documentation supporting grant decisions saying “Trust and confidence can be undermined where the criteria are not clear and when some applicants are treated, or perceived to be treated differently than most applicants”.

The Prime Minister should protect New Zealand’s reputation by initiating a through and independent inquiry into Nash’s conduct and any other breaches of Cabinet rules he may have been responsible for.

Yes, you’re right, Parliament shouldn’t have to spend our time on scandals of this sort. I’d much prefer we were focused on work to address the cost of living crisis and deal with pressing issues with crime, health services and education standards. Instead, we are dealing with yet another errant Government Minister, whose disgraceful behaviour has made the whole place look bad.

Hipkins must act. Initiate the inquiry, exit Nash and close this sorry chapter once and for all.

Of course, given the massive dishonesty and corruption of this government, one wonders if it gives any attention to Ministerial standards — hence the reason for it bribing the Mainstream Media.