Yesterday I highlighted Rob Salmond's excellent work in digging into National's Northland bridge bribe, which revealed Transport Minister simon Bridges broke Cabinet Manual rules by requesting information from his Ministry for party political purposes. john Key's response when asked about this by the media was to deny that it was a breach and claim that
"You're allowed to use resources of the officials in terms of what would be Government policy."
But as Salmond points out today, this is exactly the opposite of what he was telling us a few weeks ago. When asked about the policy in Question Time back in March, he refused to answer on the basis that he had been wearing his National Party hat, not his Prime Minister's hat, and so he had no Ministerial responsibility for the issue. Which raises the obvious question:
if there’s no ministerial responsibility for the Northland bridge bribe, then why was Simon Bridges using his ministerial privileges in putting the bribe together?
Key can't have it both ways. If this is really a matter of government policy, then he should be answering questions about it in Parliament. If its a National Party matter, then Bridges abused his office and should be sacked. The current situation, where which hat a Minister is wearing depends purely on the political consequences seems designed to thwart accountability and encourage abuses of power. And that's not something we should tolerate from our government.