Chris Hipkins sacks MP Stuart Nash after allegations he shared confidential Cabinet information

  • 28/03/2023

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has sacked MP Stuart Nash from his ministerial positions after he discussed confidential Cabinet discussions with his donors.

Speaking on Tuesday evening, Hipkins said had advised the Governor-General to dismiss Stuart Nash from all his portfolios.

"Stuart Nash has fundamentally breached my trust and that of his Cabinet colleagues."

In 2020 Nash emailed business figures about his disappointment at a Cabinet decision on a commercial rent relief package.

Two recipients of the email were Troy Bowker and Greg Loveridge, who have both donated to Stuart Nash. They are also commercial property owners who had an interest in the Cabinet decision.

Newshub has obtained a copy of the email. It says: "I am as annoyed (and surprised) about the final outcome of the 'commercial rent relief package' as you are."

"I should have argued much harder for this when I saw that things were changing; but without the support I thought I had, it would have been incredibly difficult."

The resulting Cabinet decision was a temporary change to the Property Law Act coupled with a $40 million arbitration fund.

There is nothing to suggest the two donors who received the email from Nash did anything wrong.

Hipkins said this email was a "clear breach of collective responsibility and Cabinet confidentiality" and it "crosses a line that is totally unacceptable to me".

"I expect Ministers to uphold the highest ethical standards and his actions raise perceptions of influence which cannot stand," he said.

"In recent weeks I have sought and been given assurances from Stuart that there were no other instances or allegations of misconduct that I should be aware of. 

"While Stuart was on a final warning, I want to be clear that this incident would have resulted in his dismissal in its own right. I consider the matter to be a very serious one."

Hipkins said Nash would not be coming back as a minister and he did not put up a fight when he was told he was being dismissed.

"I've worked with Stuart for a long time. I'm absolutely gutted to be frank," said Hipkins.

His portfolios have been split out to other Labour MPs.

Megan Woods will be Acting Minister for Economic Development and Acting Minister of Forestry. David Parker will be Acting Minister for Oceans and Fisheries. Meka Whaitiri will lead the Hawke's Bay Cyclone Response on an acting basis. 

The revelation has led to renewed calls for Hipkins to sack Nash. National Party leader Christopher Luxon took to Twitter saying he needs to go.

"Stuart Nash has leaked confidential Cabinet information. The Prime Minister must finally sack him," he tweeted.

ACT leader David Seymour has tonight criticized the Prime Minister's handling of the Nash saga.

"Hipkins said he asked for an assurance that Stuart Nash had done nothing else that would breach the Cabinet Manual and got that assurance. He clearly did a poor job of it," said Seymour.

"Hipkins will now pay a price for having low standards and being unable to manage his Cabinet."

Earlier this month, Nash resigned as Police Minister after admitting he once rang the Police Commissioner to suggest he appeal a court judgement. That's a breach of the Cabinet Manual as ministers aren't meant to comment on or involve themselves in prosecutions or sentencing.

A day later, it emerged Nash had also once nearly faced a contempt charge after going on the radio and saying the killer of slain police officer Matthew Hunt should receive a lengthy sentence. The Solicitor-General ended up recommending the Attorney-General give Nash a telling-off.

But it didn't end there, with Prime Minister Hipkins then demoting Nash and placing him on a final warning after it came to light that Nash had used inappropriate processes to advocate on an immigration case.

"However it is also clear in his pattern of behaviour that Stuart is not acting to achieve personal gain from his actions," Hipkins said last week.  "The cases in question represent more his desire to get things done in his portfolios and on behalf of his communities."

Nash first entered Parliament in 2008 as a list MP and reentered Parliament when he won the Napier seat for Labour in 2014 - which he still holds.

After the Labour coalition victory in 2017, Nash was made a Minister and has served in Cabinet since then.