Six months into the top job have seen Chris Hipkins’ cabinet ministers drop like flies. Before his appointment was announced on 21 January the three cabinet ministers touted for the top job were Hipkins, Woods and Allan and now Hipkins is the last man standing.
On 21st June Michael Woods resigned over his long-term inability to manage conflicts of interest and was referred to the Privileges Committee to investigate whether further action should be taken.
Kiri Allan is the third disgraced cabinet minister under Hipkins’ leadership. Allan received Woods’ Associate Minister of Finance portfolio, holding it for only one month on top of her existing portfolios: Minister of Justice, Minister of Regional Development and Associated Ministry of Transport.
On the 29th June, Kiri Allan announced that she had separated from her partner Mani Dunlop and her personal circumstances and workload had seen her “hit the wall.” She took a week off to regain her mental health, followed by a further two weeks off for Parliamentary recess.
It was not long enough. On 24 July Allan resigned after being charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest. Allan was over the legal alcohol limit but will not be charged.
Hipkins said it was untenable to have a Minister of Justice charged with a criminal offence as if it’s not bad enough for Allan to be arrested for crashing into a parked car and resisting arrest.
“While her alleged actions are inexcusable, I’ve been advised she was experiencing extreme emotional distress at the time of the incident. Her recent personal struggles with mental health have been well documented and it appears some of those issues came to a head yesterday.
“I have spoken with her first thing this morning and advised her I do not believe she’s in a fit state to hold a ministerial warrant.
“I believe it’s also untenable for a Justice Minister to be charged with criminal offending,” Hipkins said.
Allan should have stayed on stress leave until she was fit to return to work and Hipkins is ultimately responsible for making sure that happened. Whether extra time off would have changed a thing is debatable however as Allan was already batting aside complaints that she bullied and shouted at staff. Another unfit-for-purpose cabinet minister bites the dust.
Allan said she had resigned and was heading home to the East Coast to take time to “consider my future in politics”. Please do, Ms Allan but don’t think anyone actually wants you back in public office.
”I accept that my position as a minister is untenable,” she said.
”Over recent weeks I’ve faced a number of personal difficulties. I took time off to address those, and believed I was okay to juggle those challenges with the pressure of being a minister.
”My actions yesterday show I wasn’t okay, and I’ve let myself and my colleagues down,” Allan said.
But Hipkins is facing more than the fallout from his overloaded cabinet ministers. A policy of reducing prison numbers by applying home detention to violent offenders, rather than removing them from the community, met with public backlash after the recent – completely avoidable – Auckland shooting.
Pressure is on all of Allan’s portfolios including Regional Development, notably the Hawkes Bay which is slow to recover from flooding damage; Transport which is reflected in poorly maintained roading; and the Associate Finance portfolio presiding over government books funded by excessive borrowing.
Come on New Zealand, it’s time to start vetting electoral candidates more closely instead of handing over the keys to the kingdom to the badly behaved upstarts we’ve had the displeasure of watching fall from grace.
Suze sees herself as happily a New Zealander whose heritage shaped but does not define, and believes unless we protect our rights and freedoms they will be taken off us by a few powerful people. This article was first published HERE