New Zealand’s Justice Minister Kiri Allan has resigned after she was charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest.
Ms. Allan was involved in a car crash in the nation’s capital, Wellington, shortly after 9:00 p.m. on Sunday evening.
Her breath test revealed she had driven while over the legal limit, but police have not pressed charges for it. Instead, police issued an infringement notice for having a breath test result for alcohol levels of between 251 and 400 micrograms, which could warrant a fine and 50 demerit points.
Ms. Allan told Labour Prime Minister Chris Hipkins that she wished to resign from all her portfolios, which also included roles in regional development, finance, and transport, as well as overseeing communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.
She cited recent issues with mental health and extreme emotional distress following a recent relationship breakup.
“[Ms. Allan has] advised me she wishes to resign all her portfolios immediately, is heading home, and taking time to consider her future in politics. I’ve accepted that resignation,” Mr. Hipkins said in a statement.
“I recently provided Kiri the opportunity to address her mental health issues. After taking some time out I believed she was okay and was assured by her she was.
“Last night’s incident is evidence there are not always quick fixes when it comes to mental health, and the best thing for Kiri right now is to focus on her whanau and her wellbeing away from Parliament.”
Ms. Allan is the fourth minister the New Zealand Labour Party has lost this year after MPs Stuart Nash, Meka Whaitri, and Michael Wood.
Ms. Whaitri suddenly quit the Labour Party in May to join the Maori Party without informing Mr. Hipkins.
While Mr. Nash was sacked in March after it was found that he breached Cabinet confidentiality by providing information to two donors.
Most recently in June, Mr. Wood resigned over a conflict of interest because he did not immediately declare his ownership of shares in Auckland Airport while holding the transport portfolio. Mr. Wood also held shares for other companies that were not immediately declared when he became a member of Parliament.
The re-shuffling of the portfolio comes as New Zealand gears up for its next general election on Oct. 14.
Crime Continues to be Front and Centre Issue
In response to the resignation of Ms. Allan, Ginny Andersen was announced as the new justice minister. She is currently also the police minister.
“Aligning the Justice and Police portfolios will be important in the coming weeks as we progress ram raid legislation to ensure young offenders face more accountability for their crimes,” Mr. Hipkins said while announcing the cabinet shuffle.
The main opposition, National Party, called on the new justice minister to take a new approach to curb crime.
“Labour’s target to reduce the prison population, combined with no restrictions on judges’ ability to reduce sentences and taxpayer funding of written cultural reports, has weakened the consequences convicted criminals face,” National’s justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said.
“Not only does Labour need to be tougher on crime, but they also need to be tougher on the causes of crime.
“School attendance and achievement are appallingly low, fewer prisoners receive proper rehabilitation, and thousands of children are growing up in motels.”
New Zealand is currently experiencing an increase in retail crime, with police data showing ram raid incidents increased by six times in 2023 compared to 2020.
It is also seeing an increase in knife crime, according to 1News, which reported in May that knife attacks were up by nearly 20 percent from 2020.