Analysis: Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan has resigned her portfolios, after she crashed into a parked car last night then allegedly refused to accompany a police officer. She says she’s returning home to the East Coast to consider her future in politics.
And today, every member of the Labour caucus may similarly be considering their futures. The charges against Allan may be a final nail for the Labour Government; this year it first lost Jacinda Ardern, then Stuart Nash, then Meka Whaitiri, then Michael Wood, and now Kiri Allan.
In how many respects will this strengthen the Opposition narrative that the Government is in disarray? Let me count the ways….
1 / National and Act have alleged criminal offending is out of control, and ministers aren’t providing Police the resources and backing they need. So the PM and Allan fronted up to media with a plan to crack down on crime. Now, the Justice Minister is accused of refusing to comply with Police – say no more.
2 / Opposition MPs have claimed Labour’s Māori caucus wields too much power in the Government. “Call us the 1st XV if you will,” Allan said last year. This year, incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins promoted Willie Jackson and Kiri Allan higher up the Cabinet rankings than Ardern was willing to contemplate, then reinstated Allan despite unresolved allegations of bullying. National’s proxies have accused him of bowing to Māori caucus pressure.
3 / After Wood’s resignation last month, National leader Christopher Luxon said: “The bottom line is Chris Hipkins is weak, he hasn’t managed his team and he hasn’t managed the culture inside it.”
Hipkins’ repeated failures to act decisively in removing Nash, Wood and Allan from Cabinet have come back to bite him every time – and he didn’t even know Whaitiri was looking to leave.
The charges are a reminder of when another Labour minister, Ruth Dyson, was charged with drink-driving in November 2000. She had flown from Christchurch to Wellington the night before Cabinet; she’d had a glass of wine on the flight, three more alone working in her office, then made the bad decision to drive to her Wellington apartment. She was stopped at a checkpoint, and tested nearly double the limit.
Allan, too, has been issued an infringement notice for an excess breath alcohol. “I’m very sorry for my actions, the harm they could have caused and the embarrassment it has placed on the Government and my colleagues,” she said this morning.
Greens co-leader James Shaw says last night’s crash and arrest is “heart-breaking”; former Māori affairs minister and National MP Tau Henare says it shows how overloaded and overwhelmed Labour’s ministers are.
It can be taken as read that Labour will be looking for a new candidate in the East Coast electorate – the time taken by Allan to consider her political future will be brief and the outcome inevitable.
The bigger question is what this means for Labour’s wider election campaign. Right now, it’s a car crash.