Political pundit Bryce Edwards calls for anti-corruption commission, says Stuart Nash review needs to see if any MPs have 'corrupt dealings'

A political pundit has slammed the Government for its handling of the Stuart Nash saga saying it lacks "ethical standards" that are needed to keep "corruption" out of politics. 

Nash was sacked on Tuesday evening from his ministerial positions after an email, which Newshub has obtained a copy of, shows Nash in 2020 discussing a Cabinet matter with two donors when Cabinet conversations are meant to be confidential. 

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday the email came up during consultation on an Official Information Act (OIA) request to Nash's office in 2021. 

It was found to be out of the scope of the request, but the Prime Minister's Office - under Jacinda Ardern at the time - was consulted.

Neither Ardern nor her Chief of Staff was aware of the email, Hipkins said, but it did go through the office. 

In his weekly interview with AM Early on Thursday, political commentator Bryce Edwards praised Hipkins for ordering the review but said it didn't go far enough. 

"We really need some certainty, some clarity about whether Nash has had broader discussions with his financial donors and given them privileged information ... but I'm not sure this is quite wide enough," Edwards told AM Early host Michael O'Keefe.  

"The Prime Minister is limited to just looking at Nash, but I'm not sure we can have confidence that other Ministers haven't been sloppy, haven't been giving privileged information to their donors."  

The National Party accused the Prime Minister's Office of "cover-up" but Hipkins denied that was the case. 

Edwards agreed with the Prime Minister saying he didn't believe it was a "cover-up" but more a "cock up". 

ACT leader David Seymour said the review of Nash’s correspondence should ensure it could collect evidence relevant to the charge of corruption, which Edwards agreed with. 

"I mean that's really at the nub of this about whether we have corrupt dealings when business donors give money to cabinet ministers, what are they expecting in reply for that? 

"We've never really known, this has been the case study showing that they get privileged information. Basically, it was insider trading, whether this was a limited one-off that could well be or whether it's more widespread, we do need to know," Edwards said. 

Political commentator Bryce Edwards
Political commentator Bryce Edwards Photo credit: AM

Hipkins was asked about the potential cover-up on Wednesday and he said his understanding was it wasn't "within the scope of the request". 

Edwards said that didn't "wash with him" and finds it "extraordinary" that the Prime Minister's Office did have this information. 

"It's extraordinary the Beehive doesn't have processes to make sure this information is elevated to the chief of staff or the Prime Minister. I'm not sure it's a cover-up as National are suggesting, I think it's more of a cock up, but that's equally as bad," Edwards told AM Early.

"It just shows there are not the ethical standards, procedures about integrity on the ninth floor of the Beehive that we should expect if we want to keep corruption out of politics." 

Edwards believes it's come to a point where an anti-corruption commission, something that has been advocated by the TOP Party, is needed.  

"Just having a number of inquiries doesn't really cut it. I mean, the Serious Fraud Office could be bolstered with greater powers to look into these things," he said. 

"But we're very sloppy in New Zealand. We're very complacent really about corruption, but we need something more significant really to look after these things."

Watch the full interview with Bryce Edwards in the video above.