The pressure on Jacinda Ardern to sack Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is building. But Mahuta is too powerful within the Labour Party to get rid of easily.
The Three Waters reforms have become one of the Labour Government’s greatest liabilities. While there is widespread consensus on the need for significant reform of water infrastructure, including from opposition political parties and local government, the specific reforms the Government have dogmatically pursued remain unconvincing to most, if not downright offensive to many.
National’s deputy leader, Nicola Willis, applied one of the many lashings that the government received in the House this week: ‘Today we have the grovelling back-down, but the stain on our democracy, the damage to our constitution, will remain.’ THOMAS CRANMER writes –
As much as the government tried to maintain the line repeated by the Prime Minister yesterday that, “We voted for it as a team, we’re fixing it as a team”, the cracks in a divided caucus and dysfunctional leadership team were all too evident.
When Minister Mahuta, the chief architect of the Three Waters reforms, stood up in the House last Wednesday evening to respond to SOP 285 tabled by Eugenie Sage, she said that the amendment would test the will of the House. Perhaps only her closest confidants understood that the Minister intended to test the will of her own colleagues to a far greater degree than that of the opposition.
Whilst it is impossible to determine with any certainty what Labour’s caucus understood it would be voting for during the Committee of the Whole stage and who Labour’s chief whip took his instructions from when he applied Labour’s party vote in favour of SOP 285, the effect of Mahuta’s power play has been to expose the two rival camps within Cabinet which remain unreconciled following yesterday’s reversal. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: A government humiliated”→