New Zealand minister fired for an improper affair with a staffer
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday she has discharged her immigration minister for having an improper relationship with a subordinate.
Ardern said Iain Lees-Galloway had a consensual affair for about a year with a woman
who had worked as a staff member in his office and also at one agency he oversaw.
Ardern, who leads the liberal Labour Party, said she was wary about passing moral judgment
but the minister had opened himself up to accusations of improperly using the power of his role,
especially since he had oversight of workplace relations and safety.
Lees-Galloway, 41, said he accepted Ardern’s decision and apologized.
He said he wouldn’t seek reelection at the upcoming general election, which is being held in September.
“I have acted completely inappropriately in my position
and can not continue as a minister,” Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
The development was the latest in a series of scandals from both sides of the aisle in
the New Zealand parliament which has amounted to a reckoning of sorts.
Just a day earlier, opposition lawmaker Andrew Falloon abruptly resigned after allegedly
sending sexually explicit images to several women, including a university student.
Falloon hasn’t commented on the allegations, other than to say he apologized for
making unspecified mistakes and receiving mental health counselling.
Ardern said she learned about the allegations on Tuesday afternoon
and questioned Lees-Galloway about them in the evening.
She said he’d shown a significant lack of judgment over the course of a year.
“His actions have ultimately led me to lose confidence in him as a minister,” Ardern said.
Ardern said that as she understood it, the relationship had ended several months ago.
She said the parliament had long had a culture and an environment that needed improving.
But she stopped short of saying the blame lay with male lawmakers.
“We all have a role to make sure we maintain standards in this environment,” Ardern said.
“I will not start casting judgments on specific genders here.”
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