The public relations campaign Barry Matthews mounted to hold on to his job as the head of the Corrections Department is added reason why he should lose it.
His going public yesterday has made his position even more untenable - if that is possible - than it was after Tuesday's damning report from the Auditor-General which raised concerns public safety was at risk because of Corrections' failure to properly monitor offenders on parole.
Coming on top of a catalogue of mistakes and blunders by the department, the report alone was enough to raise serious questions about Matthews remaining as chief executive.
We concur. It was an extraordinary performance from Matthews yesterday, seemingly oblivious to the contempt with which his Minister viewed his performance. It certainly pointed to a man with an over-inflated opinion of his worth to the department and to the government; likewise a man who seems incapable of admitting wrong-doing.
As we are all aware, a Minister cannot simply dismiss a CEO, and herein lies Judith Collins' problem. Noting that she has pushed the boundaries about as far as she can, Armstrong concludes:
Her next move hinges on the commission's reply to her letter. If Rennie deems Matthews' performance as chief executive as not warranting his removal, she really has little political choice but to tell Rennie she can no longer work with Matthews.
That does not square with her yesterday making conciliatory noises towards Matthews. However, she may have been simply ensuring she was seen as being fair to him.
Regardless, she is likely to seek Cabinet approval before delivering any ultimatum to the commission. She does not wish to be seen to be flying solo. She also wants to avoid the impression all this bother is simply a personality clash, when it is really a necessary first step in transforming Corrections' mindset of failure into what she extravagantly calls a "culture of excellence".
That is the bottom line. Matthews has been seen as an obstacle by successive Corrections Ministers to that happening. If he doesn't go, Collins will not only be seen as weak and a blowhard, she will be seen as losing a crucial battle and thus losing control of her portfolio. That is an image no minister can allow to take hold.
Again, we concur. But Matthews going public yesterday will, we believe strengthen Collins' position rather than his. Up until yesterday, people had only heard or read about Matthews. Last night we all saw him defending the indefensible, keeping on digging as Armstrong put it.
We await the next move.