New Zealand’s justice minister resigns after being charged over car crash
New Zealand’s justice minister, Kiri Allan, has resigned after facing criminal charges following a car crash, the country’s prime minister, Chris Hipkins, announced on Monday.
Allan was involved in a car crash on Evans Bay Parade in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, on Sunday night, Hipkins said, adding that she was taken into custody and released at 1 a.m. local time on Monday morning.
New Zealand Police charged Allan with “careless use of a motor vehicle and refusing to accompany a police officer,” and also issued an infringement notice for excess breath alcohol, Hipkins said. A statement issued by the police confirmed the charges.
According to report Allan said in a statement Monday that she had “faced a number of personal difficulties” over recent weeks.
“I took time off to address those and believed I was OK to juggle those challenges with the pressure of being a minister,” she said. “My actions yesterday show I wasn’t OK and I’ve let myself and my colleagues down.”
Allan, who was considered among the contenders to succeed former Prime MinisterJacinda Arden, who stepped down in February, added that she was “heading home and will be taking time to consider my future in politics.”
Hipkins said in a press conference on Monday: “While her actions are inexcusable, I was given information that she was experiencing extreme emotional distress at the time of the incident.
“My initial concerns last night were for her immediate safety and wellbeing. It appears that some of her personal struggles came to a head yesterday and were contributing factors in this incident.”
Allan has previously spoken about her mental health and taken leave from her role, posting last month on social media that she “hit a wall a few weeks ago,” after struggling with “personal circumstances, as well as other external things – even things like the cyclones having such a massive impact on our entire region.”
Allan is the fourth minister to resign from the center-left Labour government since March, Reuters reported, as the national election race tightens ahead of polling day in three months.
Hipkins said Ginny Andersen will become justice minister following Allan’s resignation while Kieran McAnulty will take over her responsibilities as regional development minister. Grant Robertson will take over coordinating the response to Cyclone Gabrielle, which lashed New Zealand in February.