Bunkle Stands Down As Minister
Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said he accepted Phillida Bunkle's request to stand down from her portfolio until formal processes are complete.
"Phillida Bunkle asked to stand down. She and her family have come under sustained pressure over her enrolment status and eligibility for allowances. That makes it impossible for her to carry out her Ministerial duties until formal processes are complete. For that reason I accepted her request to stand down," Jim Anderton said.
Ms Bunkle received a letter from the Registrar of Electors on Wednesday and immediately sought advice. The letter was the first official expression of uncertainty about her position.
Phillida Bunkle is an Alliance Minister and she wrote to Mr Anderton as Alliance leader on Wednesday stating that she felt it was best that she should stand down from her Ministerial position until formal process are complete.
"I want to stress that there has been no finding that Phillida Bunkle has done anything wrong, and I do not intend to prejudge the outcome of inquiries," Jim Anderton said.
"Phillida is convinced that she complied with all relevant rules and that the inquiries under way into her circumstances will ultimately clear her."
Jim Anderton says Ms Bunkle acted on her own initiative.
"Phillida Bunkle has always stated that she would stand down if any appropriate official expressed uncertainty about her position. She acted as soon as she received advice that uncertainty existed, and she deserves credit for doing that."
Jim Anderton will act as Minister of Customs and Consumer Affairs in the meantime.