Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Then why did she do it?

Earlier in the month, Cancer Minister Casey Costello was caught lying to the media about whether or not she had requested advice on cutting tobacco excise tax to benefit the cancer industry. She repeated her lies in Parliament. But today, she stood up and pretended to apologise for "causing confusion" with those lies:

I'd like to make a personal statement regarding my answers as Associate Minister of Health to oral questions on 30 January 2024. I'm speaking specifically to the questions that asked if I was being truthful when I denied to the media that I had requested advice on freezing tobacco excise tax. On review of my response, I acknowledge that there is confusion arising from my understanding of the differentiation between seeking specific advice and accepting advice being offered. I had no intention of misleading the House, and I apologise for any confusion.
Which might satisfy her coalition colleagues looking for an excuse to fend off a Privileges Committee complaint. But it shouldn't satisfy any of us. Firstly, because its the usual victim-blaming bullshit, which doesn't explain anything. And secondly, because it invites the obvious question: if it wasn't her intention to mislead, then why did she do it?

And again: once upon a time Ministers were sacked for lying to the public like this. But instead of upholding public standards, Luxon appears to be allowing a culture of outright dishonesty among his Ministers from the outset. I think we're entitled to draw some unpleasant conclusions about his character and truthfulness from that as well.