Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young: Ngaro comments warrant the offer of a resignation

The stupidity of Alfred Ngaro's judgment at the weekend was so gross it warranted at least his offer of a resignation from the cabinet to Prime Minister Bill English.

None was forthcoming, English confirmed at his post cabinet press conference.

But it was clear from English's response that he was not looking for a resignation from Ngaro.

That may be because it would have signalled a misjudgment on English's part in having promoted him in December from the backbench into cabinet.

English did admit, however, that Ngaro had apologised to the cabinet, adding to a long list of groups to which he has apologised.

Speaking at a National party regional conference, Ngaro bragged that he would threaten social service providers with funding cuts if they criticised the National Government, according to Newsroom.

He singled out the Salvation Army policy unit and Manukau Urban Maori Authority, run by Labour list candidate Willie Jackson.

If his threats had ever eventuated into reality, they would represent an intolerable abuse of power which would warrant instant dismissal.

If the House were sitting this week, Ngaro would have been pummelled day after day in question time.

He will keep until next Tuesday when the House resumes but by then the sting may have gone out of the story.

The biggest reason English has been so forgiving of Ngaro is that he does not believe the junior minister would have followed through on his threat - and there is no evidence of it.

In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite. The last I heard the Salvation Army, it was on RNZ putting the boot into the Government's housing policy and praising Labour's.

English himself has had close engagement with social service sector.

He was known to be a minister who was and is open to new ideas and criticism and looking at new ways of doing things.

Ngaro has not yet had the opportunity to walk the way he talked. As a new minister, and Associate Minister for Social Housing, his work and decisions are closely watched by Social Housing Minister Amy Adams.

He would not get away with it.

Ngaro's comments smack of an inexperienced minister trying to sound as though he was an experienced political operator by talking tough.

He showed the complete opposite.

- NZ Herald

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Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor, a job she has held since 2003. She is responsible for the Herald’s Press Gallery team. She first joined the New Zealand Herald in 1988 as a sub-editor after the closure of its tabloid rival, the Auckland Sun. She switched to reporting in 1991 as social welfare and housing reporter. She joined the Herald’s Press Gallery office in 1994. She has previously worked as a journalism tutor at Manukau Technical Institute, as member of the Newspapers in Education unit at Wellington Newspapers and as a teacher in Wellington. She was a union nominee on the Press Council for six years.

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