Stuart Nash to stand down from politics at election

Former minister Stuart Nash says he will stand down from politics at the upcoming election.

It follows his sacking from Cabinet last week after leaking confidential Cabinet information to two donors. He resigned as Police Minister last month after admitting to phoning the Police Commissioner about a court judgement, something ministers cannot do.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Monday afternoon, Nash said it was time "for someone else with passion and drive to step up".

"There are many many highs - and a couple of obvious lows - and I have made a number of life-long friends from both sides of the House as well as up and down this wonderful country," he said.

"I have had the privilege of serving in the Ardern Cabinet during the darkest of days, managing crisis after crisis after crisis, while driving forward an ambitious and progressive agenda of continuous economic and social improvement and transformation.

"While the work has been very rewarding, and both intellectually and professionally stimulating, it has also been incredibly taxing on relationships with family and friends. It's now time to address this balance."

Nash called it "an absolute privilege and a pleasure representing the people of the Napier electorate in Parliament these last nine years".

He said he would continue advocating for locals until he departs at the election, recognising "there is still a lot to do regarding the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle and helping the next Labour candidate retain the seat of Napier".

It emerged last week that Nash had emailed two businesspeople - who were also donors - about Cabinet discussions on a commercial rent relief package in 2020. Cabinet conversations are meant to be confidential.

After sacking Nash, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins also announced a review into Nash's communications with donors, to be conducted by the Cabinet Secretary.

It will take place over the next two months and look into "whether there have been any other breaches of Cabinet collective responsibility or confidentiality, or whether there have been any perceived or actual conflicts of interest between Stuart Nash and those donors".

This will be limited to emails, texts and other messages between Nash and any declared donors to his campaigns.

"Stuart Nash has assured me he will fully cooperate and I expect to have an outcome in the coming months, prior to the general election," Hipkins said.

"In recent weeks I had been given assurances from Stuart Nash that there were no other instances or allegations of misconduct that would be outside of Cabinet rules."

Hipkins also revealed the email in question had previously been seen by staffers in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in 2021, but they failed to escalate it to the then-Prime Minister or her Chief of Staff as they didn't see the significance of it.

Nash resigned as Police Minister last month 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 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 at the time. "The cases in question represent more his desire to get things done in his portfolios and on behalf of his communities."