Peters revelation breached Cabinet rules - Act

NZ First leader Winston Peters Photo: RNZ
NZ First leader Winston Peters Photo: RNZ
Act leader David Seymour is accusing Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters of breaking the all-important ministerial book of rules by discussing significant Cabinet decisions on live radio.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Peters – NZ First leader as well as Deputy Prime Minister – openly talked about conversations had in Cabinet.

Asked if New Zealand had been in level 2 for too long, he said: "My party made it very clear we thought that. And the Prime Minister has actually admitted that at the Cabinet meeting – she said it."

According to the Cabinet Manual – the set of rules for ministers, enforced by the Prime Minister – ministers are not allowed to talk about what happens within Cabinet meetings.

"Discussion at Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings is informal and confidential," it says.

"Ministers and officials should not … disclose or record the nature or content of the discussions or the views of individual ministers or officials expressed at the meeting itself."

Seymour said that by saying what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Cabinet on live radio this morning, Peters was in breach of this rule.

It is up to the Prime Minister as to whether or not a minister is disciplined for breaking the Cabinet Manual rules.

In addition to his concerns around Peters' not following the rules, Seymour says Peters' comments show neither he nor Ardern can be trusted on the issue of alert level 1.

On Monday, Ardern said that New Zealand would be in alert level 2 for another month.

"Jacinda Ardern appears to hold two different positions on a move to level 1," Seymour said.

"She appears to be saying something different inside Cabinet, privately expressing the view that we should move more quickly [into level 1]."

He said Ardern needed to "come clean" and tell New Zealanders what her real position on level 1 is and when the country will move down to that alert level.

Meanwhile, National leader Todd Muller continues to muddy the waters as to his party's relationship with Peters and NZ First.

Earlier this year, former leader Simon Bridges ruled out forming a coalition with NZ First after the election.

One of the main reasons was that Bridges said he couldn't trust Peters.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Muller said he was "relaxed in terms of his [Peters'] trustworthiness from a personal perspective".

He said Peters was a "colourful character" in the political context of this country – "to put it mildly".

"He's a guy who has mixed reviews with people. But I don't particularly distrust or otherwise him."

He said it was the caucus' decision that National would not work with NZ First.

But he cast further doubt on that by saying in his next breath: "Whether that changes in the future, who knows?"

He said he would provide a "very clear" position by the time the campaign season is under way.

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