Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has sacked her first minister. Well, not exactly sacked.
Broadcasting Minister (as she remains) Clare Curran has been demoted from Cabinet rank to be one of those ministers who can get on with work in their office on Monday mornings while the rest attend yet another meeting.
Ardern has also taken away two of Curran's portfolios, open government and government digital services. Few people outside Parliament probably did not know the portfolios existed, let alone who was responsible for them. But most people knew Curran was minister of broadcasting because she got into trouble for failing to tell Parliament she had a meeting with a Radio NZ news executive in a Wellington cafe.
Now she has been demoted for a second offence of a similar nature. She met businessman Derek Handley to discuss something to do with the Government's appointment of a chief technology officer. This time the meeting was in her Beehive office at a time, 8pm, when staff were not present and the meeting was not recorded in her diary.
A month later she failed to disclose the meeting in answer to a parliamentary written question from a National MP. The Prime Minister learned of this last Monday and announced Curran's dismissal from the Cabinet on Friday afternoon.
She made it clear that, once again, Curran's wrongdoing was not the meeting but the failure to properly record it and report it to Parliament when asked. That, said Ardern, created an "impression and perception that lacks transparency and is not something I will tolerate, particularly from a minister for open government."
It might be wondered in passing, whether open government was well served by the decision to announce Curran's fate on Friday afternoon when all attention was going to be on events in Canberra.
The National Party leader also chose that day to announce bad news he had known for several days, namely that the leaker of his travel expenses appeared to be in his caucus.
Fridays are often chosen for embarrassing announcements, because Parliament is not sitting and the news might fade over the weekend.
But questions will continue to be asked about Bridges' leaker and Curran's demotion. On the latter, why is she still a minister? The fact she is no longer in Cabinet means little. Twice she has failed to meet the standards required of ministers for recording and disclosing their dealings with people involved in their areas of responsibility.
Curran may be well-meaning, she may be simply so interested in projects to do with public broadcasting and digital technology that she is keen to talk informally with people in those industries anytime she can. But for good reasons ministers need to be careful and work through the proper channels.
Curran remains Minister of Broadcasting and a minister overseeing the Accident Compensation Corporation. Apart from a drop in salary and status, she has not lost very much. If she is not up to task of a Cabinet minister, she should not be a minister.
Ardern needs to do what prime ministers must do when a person they have appointed is not up to job.