Jacinda Ardern sticks by Nanaia Mahuta despite criticism over Three Waters entrenchment row

Fresh evidence has been dug up showing Cabinet agreed against entrenchment in the Three Waters Legislation. 

Embattled minister Nanaia Mahuta supported entrenchment despite that and it's prompted the Opposition leader to call for her sacking. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is sticking by her for now. 

National leader Christopher Luxon let loose on Wednesday.

"The Prime Minister has lost control of this Cabinet," he said. 

The National Leader was probing in the House whether the Prime Minister still backs her Local Government Minister after the Three Waters entrenchment debacle.

Ardern said she has confidence in all her ministers. 

A Cabinet paper dated May 30 clearly states Cabinet "agreed that the Bill should not entrench the privatisation provisions".

Luxon argued Mahuta's statements in support of entrenchment amount to a breach of the golden Cabinet rulebook - the Cabinet manual. 

"Why is she tolerating a minister going against the explicit instructions of her and her Cabinet?" Luxon asked Ardern. 

"The minister has not," replied Ardern. 

The entrenchment provision was put in to protect water assets from being privatised. 

It is now looking increasingly like Labour tried to pull a political stunt to make it look like National was going to privatise water assets because the party wouldn't vote for entrenchment.

Asked if he can give a cast iron guarantee that National wouldn't privatise any water assets, Luxon said: "Absolute guarantee. We will not privatise any water assets."

The stunt has backfired. 

Ardern said she has full confidence in Mahuta despite Luxon's call. The Prime Minister has a Cabinet reshuffle planned for early next year.

Newshub asked Mahuta if she expects to keep her Local Government Minister job in the reshuffle.

"I have been doing the job for some time now. I am committed to the portfolio, but ultimately that is a matter for the Prime Minister," she replied. 

Luxon may have drawn a long bow here. Mahuta will likely survive the summer and hold onto her coveted Foreign Affairs role but come reshuffle time there is an easy replacement for her in the Local Government portfolio, her associate, Kieran McAnulty.