Standard scoop: Why Key fired Worth

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 am, July 13th, 2009 - 79 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Last Monday, John Key said you, the people of New Zealand, don’t have the right to know why a minister in your government was sacked.

We think you do have that right. And so do others. We have been told the reason from sources in and around the National party.

The only reason for Key to keep the reason for firing Worth secret was to prevent harm to his government. That always meant it either was something really terrible and not limited to Worth (always unlikely), or that Key had acted impulsively and fired Worth for a minor offence that would set too low a bar for sacking other, more important, ministers. Don’t get too excited. It’s not the super-conspiracy.

Key fired Worth for being an adulterer.

The calculation was that Worth’s sleaze laid bare in public would have been a running sore, so he got rid of him. Almost a bit of a let down eh? That it’s something so trivial. But that’s exactly why Key had to try to keep it secret.

Ministers are human. Sometimes they are unfaithful. It happens not infrequently. That could leave Key in a bind – be a hypocrite or fire vital ministers.

Not only that but anything ‘as bad’ as adultery is now a sacking offence. Every transgression by a minister will come with the question, is this as bad as what Worth did? The pressure will be unrelenting.

Key’s claim it wasn’t in the public interest to reveal the reason was just another of his lies. The real reason was he didn’t want this to become a publicly known standard that he would be held. Firing Worth for adultery was a typically impulsive decision from Key, and in typical fashion he has attempted to avoid the consequences by keeping it secret.

Now, Key will have to enforce this new standard and fire ministers that have broken, are breaking, or do break it, which could see a number of important ministers gone. Or he will have to relax the standard. That will show him up as a hypocrite – impulsive, expedient, unfair, and slippery.

The standard, now public, also changes things with the media. Key has given every journo worth their salt a huge incentive to dig around the private lives of his ministers. If he applies the same standard to other ministers as he did to Worth (and to be seen as fair and honest, he must), then he will have to sack any that have strayed. That’s an easy chance for a journo who gets the right info to secure a large feather for their cap.

No wonder he didn’t want you to know. Lucky some others did. The real issue now is Key’s abuse of the public interest excuse to cover his arse.

79 comments on “Standard scoop: Why Key fired Worth”

  1. Sting 1

    “Ministers are human.” You could have fooled me.

  2. toad 2

    Rumour has it that there is a wee bit more to it than that Eddie. What I’ve heard is that Worth was actually caught out “on the job” when he was supposed to be at Parliament working.

    • Eddie 2.1

      toad – a fine point of difference perhaps from what we’ve been told, one that Key should flesh out.

  3. infused 3

    Everyone knows he’s a adulterer, lol… I think it was talked about so much people switched off.

  4. Eddie 4

    infused – yes we knew that he was an adulterer. That’s not the point. the new information is that it was the reason Key fired him.

  5. infused 5

    How is that new information. I think that was the impression implied by him being fired so quickly after the accusations were made.

    Well, everyone I knew thought that anyway. I mean really, what was the chance of it being anything else?

    • Eddie 5.1

      there’s a difference between a guess and having it told to you by someone who knows.

      If you thought it was the reason all along, what do you think of Key claiming public interest as an excuse to keep it secret from the public?

      • Sting 5.1.1

        Secrets, Lockwood caught on camera or Helen’s double life? Take your pick because there is plenty of sordid tales to be told.

        • Raul 5.1.1.1

          but sting, what have those allegations got to do with anything? This has always been about why Key fired a minister.

          I think Key’s fraudulent use of ‘not in the public interest’ is a huge scandal

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    I don’t know where you reach the assumption that there’s a new standard on adultery.

    The issue with Dr Worth appears to be that his private actions were impinging on his ability to remain a minister. Too much scandal due to his own indiscretions. That is a much higher standard than just having an affair.

    If we take another example, Mr Mallard’s marriage breakdown probably wouldn’t have met the test. Nor would Dr Brash’s.

    • snoozer 6.1

      isn’t that exactly the problem with setting the bar so low, Tim? Isn’t that exactly why Key had to try to keep the standard secret?

      If the standard is really just adultery or if it us just ‘too much scandal’ like you reckon, isn’t that also an abuse of the public interest line that Key has been using as an excuse ot to tell us?

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        If I recall “so much scandal” was the reason Mr Samuels was stood down.

        This wasn’t the only incident for Dr Worth. He showed a couple of previous errors of judgement and was on his last warning.

        • Bright red 6.1.1.1

          If that’s true why wasn’t it in the public interest to tell us that?

          • Tim Ellis 6.1.1.1.1

            I suppose the answer to that question is that Mr Key probably thought there had been enough panty-sniffing around the issue already, much of it prosecuted by Mr Goff.

            • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Even if true, that’s not enough to establish public interest in not answering questions Tim, and I suspect you know it.

              Most of the ‘panty sniffing’ as I remember came from the blame the victim crowd.

            • snoozer 6.1.1.1.1.2

              That’s not a reason for using the public interest provisions in standing orders.

              Do you think a PM should be able to keep something secret from the public for whatever reason they deem necessary and then lie about it using a valid reason like public interest as a cover?

            • Tim Ellis 6.1.1.1.1.3

              Do I think there’s public interest in a prime minister confirming or denying that the reason the prime minister has asked a minister to resign is that there is a scandal based on the minister having an affair? No.

              There was at least one labour MP who went quietly and didn’t reach ministerial office because of a scandal in his private life. There is no public interest in airing that stuff politically and I really don’t want to know the details of it.

            • Bright red 6.1.1.1.1.4

              “There was at least one labour MP who went quietly and didn’t reach ministerial office because of a scandal in his private life. ”

              So this person wasn’t a minister in our government? Irrelevant then.

              No-one’s asking for details. We just wanted to know why the minister was fired.

              Now we do know and I’m afraid you look like you’re conceding that Key’s use of the public interest excuse was totally unjustified.

              Give it to me straight Tim: do you think Key was correct to say that it would be harmful to the public interest to answer questions as to why he lost confidence in Worth?

            • Pascal's bookie 6.1.1.1.1.5

              The rumsfeldian Q and A routines are cute Tim.

              Usually means you don’t like the actual question so you pose it the way you would like it to have been asked.

              But just to be clear, you are saying that it would harm NZ for us to know why Key sacked Worth, if it was in fact about adultery.

    • Maynard J 6.2

      “I don’t know where you reach the assumption that there’s a new standard on adultery.”

      The fact that ministers have not been fired for this before would be a fairly obvious indicator, closely followed by Worth’s sacking being the first sacking by a Government promising new levels of accountability.

      You suggets Key is the one that decided his actions (apparently adultery) were impinging upon his ability to act as a minister. Not so – Key ‘lost confidence’ in him. Quite a difference. But of course one there is no point arguing – given Key’s lies about ‘not in the public interest’ we do not have enough information – and I am a bit wary of your inclination to claim opinion as fact to bother having this debate.

  7. StephenR 7

    Now, Key will have to enforce this new standard and fire ministers that have broken, are breaking, or do break it, which could see a number of important ministers gone. Or he will have to relax the standard. That will show him up as a hypocrite – impulsive, expedient, unfair, and slippery.

    I think I agree with Tim Ellis where he says “I don’t know where you reach the assumption that there’s a new standard on adultery.” until at the very least this goes beyond an anonymous source inside the National party being pointed to in a post by an anonymous blogger.

    • Phil 7.1

      until at the very least this goes beyond an anonymous source inside the National party being pointed to in a post by an anonymous blogger.

      Additionally, you have to remember that it’s people of Eddie’s mentallity who fawn over the works of Hagar and/or Wishart – who see conspiracy at every turn, and think that because a politician had lunch in the same cafe as Graham Norton, they must be part of the rabid homosexual conspiracy. Or, perhaps they got in a cab vacated by a BAT executive, and are therefore part of an evil corporate plan to give cancer to babies.

      I’m willing to bet all the cash in my pockets, against all the cash in Eddie’s, that this is one step sideways from interviewing the keyboard.

  8. snoozer 8

    This really does like like a terrible abuse of process by Key. He should have just told us the reason, rather than hiding behind public interest, when there was no public interest in keeping the reason secret.

  9. Bright red 9

    Just watch Key try and squirm his way out of this one. His crediblity is sinking by the day.

  10. Funny thing Bright Red, the polls don’t seem to reflect this. Moreover, apart from completely biased perspectives such as this one, the general view seems to be either complete boredom or acceptance that Key did the right thing to get rid of Worth.

    What happened was that Key lanced the boil a lot quicker than the left expected or wanted reducing the opportunities to attack the credibility of Key for not tacking action.

    Face facts – it’s not an issue. What’s more an issue is the competence or otherwise of Key’s ministers. And sadly, in more than one case, I have my doubts about their abilities.

    • Bright red 10.1

      It’s not an issue when the PM refuses to answer questions in Parliament and from the media relying on the grounds that it would be against the public interest to do so only for that to be revealed as a lie?

      I wonder what does count as an issue to you – that time Helen Clark’s car was speeding?

      • Tim Ellis 10.1.1

        Bright red, I don’t think it is in the public interest for the public to know the sordid details of a minister’s affair, or that the public scandal around it was the reason the prime minister lost confidence in the minister’s ability to do their job while such allegations are flying around.

        That comes down to a judgement call by Mr Key. I think he made the right one. By comparison I don’t think Mr Goff carried himself off very well at all.

        • Bright red 10.1.1.1

          This has nothing to do with the details of what Worth did or Goff. Pretty poor attempts at distraction.

          You still haven’t answered the question. A minister doesn’t have to answer questions if they believe that it would be against the public interest (which usually means would hurt national security or the Crown’s financial position) to do so. Do you think that Key used that power properly or do you think that he abused that power for political reasons?

        • So Bored 10.1.1.2

          In reply Tim, if Worths wife cannot trust him why should the public? Why wasnt Jonkey just a little bit more upfront and decisive?

          As for Goff he shouldnt have bothered getting involved, you cant make crap smell any worse by stirring it, you just get tainted.

          • Tim Ellis 10.1.1.2.1

            So Bored are you saying that an extra marital affair of itself should be grounds for sacking from a ministerial position?

            It looks to me with some of the oohing and aahing in this post is an attempt to get down into the gutter into every National MP’s private life.

            • So Bored 10.1.1.2.1.1

              Paranoia Tim. I dont think it would be at all edifying to take a gink at any MPs private life, more like very very boring.

              People will have affairs (some with MPs perish the thought)! Trust is the issue, if you present yourself as trustworthy and take a position that requires some public trust you are going to have to be seen to be squeaky clean (whether you are or not).

            • Pascal's bookie 10.1.1.2.1.2

              Apparently that’s what John Key thinks Tim.

              Keep up.

            • Wrangle 10.1.1.2.1.3

              I don’t read it like that at all. The post doesn’t endorse or condemn Key’s new standard – it just looks at the consequences of it. Ah, consequences, there’s a word the Nats and their hangers-on don’t like to hear.

              Nobody except you has expressed the slightest interest in the details of what Worth got up to. This is all about Key – why he fired Worth and his abuse of the public interest standing orders.

        • Rex Widerstrom 10.1.1.3

          “Not in the public interest” is a very defined form of words implying that there would be some damage to the public good caused by the release of information. It’s used, for instance, to explain why we can’t know too much about what the SIS or Defence Intelligence is up to.

          It’s also been misused to try to avoid explaining all sorts of political cock-ups and cover-ups, most lately by the NZ Police in relation to any wrongdoing by their political masters.

          But I’ve never seen it trotted out to excuse not talking about someone “discussing the Ugandan situation” (a much better euphemism IMO).

          OTOH Worth’s trouser problems (we’re having a special on euphemisms this week folks, buy two get one free) shouldn’t be of interest to the public. But that’s a very different thing.

          Key could have specified adultery as the reason, thus satisfying the public interest criteria, but refused to go into detail, thus sparing the majority of us who don’t wish to know from the sordid details, in which we ought not to be interested.

      • Daveski 10.1.2

        Red – you’re going off on tangents re Aunty Helen and Speedgate (and I didn’t mention those because they are irrelevant and deflections).

        There’s been little real debate about why he was moved on. That’s the real problem for the left.

        As per my substantive point is the fact that the line being taken here is that there is some type of scandal because Key won’t spell out the reason. It would be a scandal if Key hadn’t acted or he had tried to protect Worth (I won’t take any cheap shots here).

        Anyway, I suspect that this is undoubtedly antidemocratic as far as you’re concerned so the obvious answer is to have a referendum on whether or not Key should tell us why Worth was sent packing.

        Labour strategy is looking as ineffectual as the Warriors’ attack!

        • Bright red 10.1.2.1

          How about just answering the question then:

          Is it not an issue when the PM refuses to answer questions in Parliament and from the media relying on the grounds that it would be against the public interest to do so only for that to be revealed as a lie?

          Would you be happy if some other PM did this? Or does Key get special treatment?

    • Irascible 10.2

      Love the anology – Tory ministers and MPs are boils on the public backside? A truly worthy analogy from a right wing blogger.

  11. Tim Ellis 11

    I suggest people read the cabinet manual on privacy considerations and the public interest http://cabinetmanual.cabinetoffice.govt.nz/8.52 . Once Dr Worth had resigned as a minister I don’t see any reason why the prime minister was required to disclose information about Dr Worth’s private life that was no longer likely to impact on the government.

    Let’s face it Labour would love this issue to go on and on to give them an excuse to continue the panty sniffing that Mr Goff started, but the government has much more important things on their minds.

    • Wrangle 11.1

      Nobody wants to know anything about Worth’s private life. We wanted to know why Key fired him. Every other PM ever had always said. Key hid behind public interest but it’s clear that there was no public interst in not revealing the truth, it was purely political.

      “but the government has much more important things on their minds.” – like cycleways and handouts to Maccas?

      Your attempt to put some of this on Goff is pathetic.

      • Tim Ellis 11.1.1

        Wrangle Mr Key has said repeatedly that the reason Dr Worth resigned is that the PM lost confidence in him. It is pretty obvious why. Labour would love to trap the PM into the gutter with a more detailed response that treads heavily into Dr Worth’s private life, but I don’t think new zealanders really want to hear about that.

        Yes there are more important things going on, like dealing with the recession.

        • Wrangle 11.1.1.1

          ‘the reason Dr Worth resigned is that the PM lost confidence in him”

          that’s a tautology. The question is why Key lost confidence in Worth.

          We know the answer now.

          Do you think that Key abused his powers in relation to not answering questions because it would not be in the public interest to do so?

          You know the answer is yes, just say it.

    • Pascal's bookie 11.2

      Hang on. Are you saying that once Worth resigned, Key couldn’t say why because of the privacy act?

      I’m pretty sure the privacy act isn’t supposed to be rogues charter. But anyway, the question is why did Key lose confidence in Worth when Worth was a minister.

      • Tim Ellis 11.2.1

        PB Mr Key has said that there’s no public interest in him disclosing the reason he lost confidence. It is pretty obvious that any explanation would adversely affect Dr Worth’s right to privacy in matters that concern him personally.

        As much as the labour party seem to enjoy getting in the gutter like this I don’t think the public wants to hear it.

        • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1.1

          As I understand it Tim, Key says there is a public interest in him not disclosing the reason. Subtler difference, but an important one. There is a default setting toward disclosure, and the PM has overuled it, saying that to reveal more would be harmful to the public interest.

          • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1

            My reading of the cabinet manual PB is that a person’s privacy is the primary concern unless there is specific public interest in disclosing it.

            • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1.1.1.1

              I think there is a public interest in knowing why a minister has been stood down and eventually drummed out of parliament Tim.

            • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1.2

              I think there is a public interest in knowing why a minister has been stood down and eventually drummed out of parliament Tim.

              That is a subjective opinion PB. Mr Key obviously decided differently. Since he’s the prime minister he’s politically accountable for the decisions he makes. I don’t think he will be losing too much sleep over this one.

            • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1.1.1.3

              non-responsive Tim.

              Of course it’s opinion, inasmuch as everything is. What’s yours?

              Do you think there is a public interest in knowing why a minister has been stood down and eventually drummed out of parliament?

              You forgot to say.

            • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1.4

              Do you think there is a public interest in knowing why a minister has been stood down and eventually drummed out of parliament?

              There may be some members of the public who are interested in knowing, PB, but that of itself doesn’t make the public interest over-ride Dr Worth’s right to privacy.

              Mr Key clearly felt that if he had disclosed his reasons for losing confidence in Dr Worth, it would have unfairly infringed Dr Worth’s right to privacy.

            • snoozer 11.2.1.1.1.5

              Don’t play dumb Tim. You know the issue isn’t whether members of the public are interested.

              Public interest is a reason for NOT releasing information. If there isn’t a good public interest reason NOT to release information the government should release it.

              As noted above, Worth’s privacy is not a reason that Key has relied on for not telling.

              He has claimed there is a public interest reason for not telling. Which is not true if the reason he lost confidence in Worth really is adultery.

              Moreover, it’s hard to see how Key would be protecting Worth’s privacy by not revealing it. It is already public knowledge that Worth is an adulterer. All Key would be confirming is that this publicly known piece of information about Worth was the reason he lost confidence in him

            • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1.1.1.6

              you still forgot say Tim.

              Do you think the public has a legitmate interest in knowing why Ministers get sacked?

              There is nothing ‘clear’ about it Tim. We are being told that to let us know will hurt NZ.

              It’s stupid, and you look like an idiot defending it.

            • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1.7

              My understanding snoozer is that the assumption is that all information should be in the public domain, unless there are specific reasons not to disclose it. Those reasons include national security and privacy concerns, which the cabinet manual clearly identifies.

              If the reason for the lost confidence was the public scandal around Dr Worth due to an extra marital affair preventing Dr Worth from continuing his job, then if he has decided to resign then I think he does have a right to privacy, rather than having his private relationships dragged through the mud by the likes of Mr Goff.

            • snoozer 11.2.1.1.1.8

              Key has never given privacy as a reason why Key lost confidence in Worth. This is purely Tim’s invention.

              But, what the hell, I’ll bite.

              Tim, pray tell: how would Key confirming that the reason he lost confidence in Worth was that Worth is an adulterer be an invasion of Worth’s privacy given that his adultery is already public knowledge?

            • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1.9

              I’m afraid you have your facts askew snoozer. Mr Key has repeatedly said that he was not going to comment further on Dr Worth because he’s entitled to his privacy.

              “Now that Worth’s gone from Parliament for good, it seems that there is no real fear of this being the case but Key has decided that as a private citizen Worth is entitled to his privacy ”

              That was here at the standard quoting an article from Tracey Watkins.

              Privacy was the major consideration why Mr Key didn’t go into further details about Dr Worth. It seems that the only people who want to know the gory details are the commenters on here.

            • Eddie 11.2.1.1.1.10

              Tim. That doesn’t refer to any need to protect Worth’s privacy. It simply states that since he’s a private citizen it’s case closed. Different things (and niether stack up).

              You’ve got a slippery way with words that Key himself would be proud of.

            • felix 11.2.1.1.1.11

              But nobody wants “gory details”, Timmeh.

              Can you show where people here are asking for “gory details”?

              You do understand the issue, Tim. Why are you pretending you don’t?

            • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.1.1.12

              You’re dancing on the head of a pin Eddie. When Mr Key repeatedly says Dr Worth’s situation is now a private matter, he was actually respecting Dr Worth’s right to privacy.

              This is not a new issue. The speaker said on 17 June:

              Mr SPEAKER: I thank honourable members, because this is an issue that I accept is not absolutely black and white. But, in fact, when the Hon Trevor Mallard was recounting Speakers’ rulings or briefings on the matter, he overlooked the one by Speaker Wilson just last year, which is Speaker’s ruling 162/4. It actually gets into the issue of matters of public interest versus privacy as well, and there are issues to be covered there.

              http://www.parliament.nz/mi-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/d/2/6/49HansQ_20090617_00000010-10-Dr-Richard-Worth-Confidence.htm

              The decision of Mr Key not to discuss further his lack of confidence was always about respecting Dr Worth’s right to privacy, which is a legitimate reason in the cabinet manual not to release information.

            • Eddie 11.2.1.1.1.13

              Tim. That’s the speaker you’re quoting and I don’t accept that there is a privacy issue anyway.

              Key’s line was that is was against the public interest for him to tell the reason – that was a lie.

        • Wrangle 11.2.1.2

          “Mr Key has said that there’s no public interest in him disclosing the reason he lost confidence. It is pretty obvious that any explanation would adversely affect Dr Worth’s right to privacy in matters that concern him personally.”

          Worth’s privacy isn’t a reason of public interest for not revealing information – public interest is used for things like like the deployment of the SAS and plans for the Reserve Bank to intervene in the currency. Anyway, that he was an adulterer was already known so Key saying that was the reason for firing him would not be reducing his privacy.

          Remember, Tim, the question of public interest isn’t ‘are people interested’ it’s ‘is there a good reason from the public’s point of view not to say’. Unless there is a good reason not to say, the information shoudl be made public. Unless you want to lie in a country where a governemtn can jsut decide it wants to keep politically damaging information secret.

          • Tim Ellis 11.2.1.2.1

            Respecting a person’s privacy is in the cabinet manual as a good reason not to make information public, Wrangle.

            If there had been police charges then it might become a public interest story. There weren’t. In the end all we have is rather shoddy allegations put forward by Mr Goff on the one hand, and a complainant whose story wasn’t sufficiently strong for the police to investigate further.

            I don’t know Dr Worth, but as he’s not an MP anymore I don’t think you or anybody else has the right to go rifling through his bottom drawer with some hokum excuse of “public interest”. There is no public interest in knowing about Dr Worth’s private life any more than there is public interest in knowing about yours.

    • r0b 11.3

      the panty sniffing that Mr Goff started

      Grow up Tim.

      • Maynard J 11.3.1

        It is a very pathetic deflection. I am losing confidence in Tim’s abilites to spin for National.

        • Draco T Bastard 11.3.1.1

          I dunno, his acrobatic leaps trying to dodge the actual meaning of “in the public interest” and answer any questions in this thread are quite remarkable. Of course, they’re also totally see through.

      • aj 11.3.2

        Worth started the panty sniffing. Pure and simple.

  12. dave 12

    This is kind of dumb speculation.
    Best guess: Key fired Worth for lying to him- and more than once. That certainly leads to ‘loss of confidence’.
    Why can’t Key say this? Most likely because it was in personal conversation, so if it became a public spat, there would be no concrete evidence. Worth could deny it. That would lead to a lot of public messiness- including dredging up both men’s record of, ahem, not being scrupulous with the truth.
    Sometimes the simplest explanations are best.

    • Wrangle 12.1

      dave – If that’s true (and you’re just guessing eh?) then Key was lying when he said he wouldn’t tell us because it would be against the public interest to do so.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.2

      But a messy political situation is only something that Key would like to avoid. It’s not a ‘public interest’ reason though.

      • Tim Ellis 12.2.1

        Interfering with Dr Worth’s ability to carry on a life after Parliament and his personal life generally does override public interest I’m afraid, PB. Read the cabinet manual which does set out the public interest/privacy tradeoff.

        • snoozer 12.2.1.1

          Key has never claimed that he wasn’t revealing the reason to protect Worth’s privacy. He always claimed it would be against the public interest to say.

          So there goes that argument Tim.

          • Pascal's bookie 12.2.1.1.1

            He’ll keep running it though. Honesty’s not a strong point for timmeh.

            • Maynard J 12.2.1.1.1.1

              PB, it would be better fot you to not know what Key’s level of accountability is, and it would be better for you to not know what caused Key to lose confidence in a minister.

              Or so someone is trying to tell you.

            • felix 12.2.1.1.1.2

              TIMMEH!!!

        • Pascal's bookie 12.2.1.2

          Read it a few times now timmy. You’re stretching.

          this:

          Interfering with Dr Worth’s ability to carry on a life after Parliament and his personal life generally does override public interest I’m afraid, PB.

          is in fact a lie; but only because you state it as fact. It is of course, your “subjective opinion”. For what that’s worth.

  13. gobsmacked 13

    If information is made public, then people (the damn voters) compare and contrast. Can’t have them doing that. Gotta keep those famous “principles” … flexible.

    So if, for example, a Minister in a major portfolio (not Internal Library Filing, or whatever Worth did) gets jiggy with a kisser-and-teller and her twin sister on the table at 4 a.m. in the Viaduct, and then finds himself on the front pages, the media start asking “Is this Worse than Worth?”

    And if said Minister happens to hold an electorate seat, and can’t just be replaced by a party hack on the list, and so there’s going to be a by-election, and the next Melissa Lee is very, very keen to stand … well, you get the picture. Some Ministers are much, much more equal than others.

    John Key doesn’t want to be asked each time if he’s washed his hands. Sometimes he’d rather just wipe ’em on his trousers, and hope nobody notices. Consistency is something to loudly demand in opposition, and quietly dump in government.

    There is a clear public interest in knowing the standard for Ministers. There is a self-serving power interest in not letting us know. It’s pretty easy to decide which side you’re on.

    • Bright red 13.1

      I think that hits it exactly, gobsmacked. Key was always lying when he said it was against the public interest to say. The real reason was he had set a low threshold for getting ministers sacked and he doesn’t want to have to enforce that in the future.

      He wanted a licence to be arbitrary and was willing to abuse the trust that is put in him by the ‘public interest’ standing orders to get it.

  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    If this is true then John Key has deliberately misled parliament and abused his position as PM.

  15. Maggie 15

    If the PM considered that the Cabinet Manual, The Privacy Act or the Official Information Act precluded him from telling why he lost confidence in Worth, then he should have said so. He hasn’t.

    Instead he has claimed that to reveal the reason is not in the public interest, which is a very different thing.

    Key has a habit of making decisions on the hoof and then having to pull back from them. A recent example was when he told Pita Sharples it would be okay to go to Fiji so long as he went only on behalf of the Maori Party. Key then had to change that position after someone, almost certainly Murray McCully, chewed on his ear.

    Another example was his constant changing of position on whether he would meet the first woman who complained against Worth.

    Now he has made the decision he isn’t going to reveal his reasons for dumping Worth because it would be embarrassing to do so. Since then he has been fishing around trying to come up with a plausible reason to justify that position.

  16. Phil 16

    In the old days, Rob Muldoon used to have a signed, undated, letter of resignation in his desk for every member of the Cabinet…

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