GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Will You Roll or Roll Over Prime Minister?

Why Luxon should fire Associate Health Minister Casey Costello.

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In April this year P.M. Luxon fired both Disability Issues Minister Penny Simmonds and Media and Communications Minister Melissa for incompetence. But they were both National Party MPs.

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello and NZ First MP has just been severely reprimanded by the Chief Ombudsman Judge Peter Boshier who has forced her to apologise to RNZ and to Otago University Professor of Public Health Janet Hoek for her handling of Official Information Act (OIA) requests.

In his ruling, Boshier said Costello’s actions in withholding the information were “unreasonable and contrary to law”. That is surely, Prime Minister, a humilation for a law maker.

Earlier this year Costello came under scrutiny when it was revealed that her public statements on tobacco and vaping policy were contradicted by official documents she had sent to health officials.

You may also recall that in their briefing to the Associate Minister the Health Ministry had urged Costello to keep elements of the current law, which they said was an “endgame” for the tobacco industry. The Ministry also provided Costello with multiple compromise options – including introducing a purchase age of 25 – which they said would have saved lives and money. She rejected them all.

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In late December RNZ made an OIA request, asking for all documents sent, held or received by Costello relating to tobacco control and vaping policy.

She  refused to release any documents at all, citing a clause in the OIA protecting confidential advice tendered by ministers and officials.

RNZ complained to the Ombudsman and the results of his investigation reveal deep concerns about how Costello handled the information.

Not only did Boshier find that she had failed to meet OIA requirements she even initally failed to supply the Ombudsman with the un-redacted information.

In his ruling Boshier stated :

“The Associate Minister provided no explanation of her decision making on the requests, including what public interest factors she considered when concluding that the need to withhold the information was not outweighed by the public interest in its release.”

He ruled that Costello should make fresh decisions on the OIA requests from RNZ and Hoek “and make written apologies to the requesters for the deficiencies identified”. (Source RNZ)

I understand from reporting that Costello has offered the written apologies but let’s think, for a moment, about her motivation for  withholding important information at a time when our world leading smoking legislation was being overturned.

It is either incompetence or duplicitous.

On either count she should lose her portfolio.

When he fired Lee and Simmonds Luxon proclaimed “It’s how I roll”.

Unless he is prepared to do the same to a NZ First or ACT  Minister when they so spectactualrly fail in their portfolio duties, perhaps he should refresh his mantra to “It’s how I roll over”.

Bryan Bruce is one of New Zealand’s most important and respected documentary makers. His work is available on bryanbruce.substack.com

30 COMMENTS

  1. The coalition of chaos is completely fake, why expect anything else than incompetence and duplicitous behaviour.

  2. There’s an element here though of a Parliamentary officer doing his job well and castigating an errant Minister. Perhaps the decision is enough.

    • Perhaps the decision is not enough and is only based on your own personal political leanings.
      Judging by your posts if it had been a left wing party you most certainly wouldn’t have thought the decision was enough.

    • No it’s not Ennius.
      She broke the law so she should go fullstop.
      This does explain why Winston is ranting on about the ferry. A useful diversion.

      • She failed to give grounds for denying a request. She’s been told to reconsider. She might be able to get to the same result with proper grounds. If you don’t like an OIA decision, you appeal to the Ombudsman. He told her to reconsider.

    • What a load of Shite you spiel Ennius , you’re so morally blank for starters

      Could you not even upgrade one of your sock puppets to read a little about the long term impacts and costs of Costello’ s decision to ‘forget about all the evidence’?

      What else would a sock pupper justify ? Wasting mega- prison beds on white collar crims cos ” hey they’ve already been chastised ? “

  3. It wasn’t an “endgame” for the tobacco industry.

    The tobacco industry aims to hook a new generation on vapes.
    https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/tobacco-industry-aims-hook-new-generation-vapes-who-says-2024-05-23/

    The fight against tobacco is helping to assist the growth in vaping.

    Further, it has created a growing black market while increasing robberies and store-owner harm.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/516708/five-arrested-after-2m-worth-of-cigarettes-smuggled-into-country

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/105779947/most-christchurch-dairy-owners-want-to-keep-selling-smokes-despite-robberies-study-suggests

    Not to mention the hardship and stress it places on long-term smokers (and their families who largely bear the consequences) of which will not quit.

    Bad law that needs to be repealed. And in that respect, Costello and National failed to go far enough.

    • So you are happy to keep people addicted to tobacco so a few dairy owners can make money covers most of your comment. I can understand that you are ignorant of the health dangers from tobacco but the grown ups with genuine evidence developed a policy that would have saved future generations from that product only to have the C grade political hacks decide that tax cuts for landlords was better than keeping people healthy.

      • No, Bonnie.

        When it comes to smoking, grown ups should be able to make up their own minds.

        If you don’t want to smoke – all good.

        But don’t try to unreasonably tax the crap out of me because I do.

        And don’t be blind to the dangers and damage taxing the crap out of smokers does.

      • Additionally, Bonnie. As for the so-called evidence based developed policy that would have saved future generations – it is flawed.

        More young people are susceptible to the harms of nicotine via vaping now. So much for the claim of saving them.

        Further, there are many items for sale (that are directly marketed to kids with no age restrictions) that can also cause harm to ones health. Yet, where are the righteous on that?

        You seem like the type that would be all righteous when high taxes (which plays a large part of this flawed policy) results in a smoker quitting. Yet, are in denial when it results in a store owner being killed (and a smoker is incarcerated) over a robbery for cigarettes. It’s not righteous now knowing the policy you support can and does result in also causing death and harm.

        The evidence clearly highlights it’s time to come up with a better way.

  4. And in summary then reading your references TC, AND if anyone has the opportunity to spend days closely observing any hospital Cardio- Pulmonary / Respiratory wards , clinics , rehabs , radiography, CT equipment shortage and demand etc..waiting cues for specialists of over a year !
    * 25 hours in ED waiting for a ward , with a little magical trick of pulling patients past the ED waiting room door to meet nats ‘ goals ‘ to wait on the other side.. LOL * …then 20 hours later to a ward where EVERY SINGLE KIWI NURSE LEFT to go overseas , …..

    THEN , I too would add TC that these NACTZI’s are not only CORRUPT in their malignant agenda, they are outright THIEVES of future generations that will cost billions on ‘death spending’ and having been up close with what is already happening they are intentional MURDERERS.

    • Ending up in hospital is a real possibility when one smokes. As can also be said about a number of other activities.

      If you genuinely want to help people, unreasonably taxing the crap out of them is not the way to go about it.

      And while that may make you feel good and righteous, the reality is it creates more problems for those you are claiming to want to help.

  5. ” Never do business with a religious son of a bitch, but if you do, get it in writing. Never trust someone with God in their side to tell them how to fuck you on the deal. ” William S. Burroughs.
    From the age of 18 we lot have a legal requirement to enrol but voting is like “Meh, can’t be bothered, what’s t’ point.” We have an open lobbying policy literally going on in the lobby of OUR parliament building where sweet deals are struck in secret and we have 14 multi-billionaires, 3118 multi-millionaires each with a starting-line minimum of $50 million after tax each and we have four, now foreign owned banks which are the second most profitable in the world only to Canada and our primary industry is 50 thousand farmers and we have a cock-head Prime Minister in a cheap suit with seven houses while the scourge of poverty and homelessness plagues us. Any questions? I have a couple. Are we really this stupid? Are we this gutless? That we take this from a nob-end and his expensive cohorts.

  6. Right on gordon, Luxie would not just roll , the deluded dude would also leave an oil slick !

    Best grand delusions comment from the flaccid, bread dough head in a suit today…

    When you’re NOT EVEN A NATO country member let alone a NATO leader…. just open your dumb and dumber gob Luxie and say.

    ” Asked if Nato leaders were confident Ukraine could win, Luxon said: “Yes, WE are. We have to win this. This is actually quite seminal and quite critical to our core values.”
    Roll on the floor laughing Luxie ..

  7. Blame the lowly staffer once again. Why are the media knives not out for Costello, why is this media so in awe of our lazy PM on a taxpayer junket in US visiting NATO . He is achieving absolutely nothing and we are paying for it . The media should be asking him about Costello not applauding him for doing nothing

  8. Yes, Te Chairman, fair enough, people can choose to smoke but should they not apply the same taxes to alcohol and what about fast foods and sugar laden foods, lets not stop there.

  9. An honest man is our Prime Minister Luxon,a refreshing change after 6 years of false promises from the successive Labour Government Prime Ministers.

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