Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will face pressure to come down hard on Meka Whaitiri after the punishment handed out to Clare Curran was perceived as soft, according to political analyst Bryce Edwards.
Dr Edwards said that it was a serious blow for the government that Customs Minister Ms Whaitiri was facing accusations of assaulting a staff member so soon after Ms Curran was stripped of two portfolios.
“I can’t remember two ministers being lost like this within one week before in New Zealand politics. For the government and for Jacinda Ardern it becomes a test for how well Jacinda Ardern handles this,” Dr Edwards told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.
“I don’t know if she was seen as handling the Clare Curran incident so well, because she was quite soft, she only gave that partial sacking to Clare Curran, I think there will be some pressure on Ardern to go a bit tougher on Whaitiri.”
Ms Whaitiri stood down from her ministerial portfolios yesterday following what 1 NEWS understand is an allegation of assault from a staff member in her ministerial office.
Ms Curran was removed from cabinet over a second meeting she failed to properly declare.
“There will be speculation, there was some sort of toxic environment that’s gone on in her (Meka Whaitiri’s) ministerial office and there was an alleged incident of shoving but we’ll have to wait and see,” Dr Edwards said.
Dr Edwards felt it was unrealistic to expect Ms Ardern to have complete control of her ministers and said she may even get some sympathy for the public over the incident.
“A prime minster just can’t have control of her ministers in this way, so I think people might even have a bit of sympathy for Ardern having to deal with all these difficulties,” he said.