Editorials 26 February 2010

February 26th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

First the Herald on Heatley:

There is absolutely no question that had to resign from his ministerial posts. The Prime Minister’s suggestion that the Whangarei MP was being too hard on himself was wide of the mark.

The Dom Post is not so harsh:

The shock at Parliament was palpable yesterday following Phil Heatley’s resignation as minister of housing and fisheries.

Not that a minister had resigned, but that a minister had given up his ministerial home, car and $243,700 salary over such a trifling matter as two bottles of wine. …

Only the stonehearted would not feel a measure of sympathy. There are few who could lay their hands on their hearts and honestly say they have not, at some point, titivated their expenses – which may explain why Labour, despite its blustering, passed up the opportunity to grill Mr Heatley during question time on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Mr Heatley has done the right thing. …

Mr Heatley is not the first minister to confuse personal and public expenditure. He is just the first to be caught for a while.

He has belatedly shown himself to be an honourable member. Fellow politicians thinking “there but for a paper trail go I” would be wise to open the system to public scrutiny before another of their number falls victim to it.

And the Press says Heatley had to go:

Key discovered that the expenses claim for the wine listed the purchase as “dinner” and that the credit card receipt was notated as “food and beverage”. These were incorrect as there was no food involved.

This inconsistency might seem like a technicality or an inadvertent error, rather than a reason for resigning. But whenever ministers spend public money they must be scrupulous about how they account for it and Heatley had little choice but to tender his resignation.

The ODT focuses on the :

entered the EU in the early 1980s and joined the euro in 2000.

Riding on a wave of national pride and new-found prosperity, capped by the ambitious and hugely expensive 2004 Olympic Games, the Greek people and their government alike went on credit-based spending sprees – living beyond their means. …

For now, the euro-honeymoon for Greece is well and truly over – and other European leaders will be regarding with anxiety the potential for a domino effect in the similarly indebted and stalled economies of Portugal, Italy and Spain.

For observers on this side of the world, the lessons are clear: reduce budget deficits (New Zealand’s tends to run at a high 8-9% of GDP), close tax loopholes, and keep a lid on public sector spending now – or face the prospect of more radical action further down the track.

Labour and the unions should take note.

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12 Responses to “Editorials 26 February 2010”

  1. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Good job that Cullen doesn’t have the countries cheque book and credit cards anymore.

    So why did he pay so much for KiwiRail? Who else was trying to buy the infrastructure and other certain assets at the same time?

    Could it have waited? Was there anything in it for him personally?

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  2. Swiftman the infidel (329 comments) says:

    ‘Labour and the unions should take note.’

    Bwahahahaha

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  3. tvb (4,498 comments) says:

    Heatley loses his Ministerial portfolios over as couple of bottles of wine, Jonathan Hunt becomes an Order of New Zealand after rorting the parliamentary taxi chits for tens of thousands of dollars – remember that???

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  4. GJ (329 comments) says:

    If nothing else shows up in the audit I would hope that he is reinstated.

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  5. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    It’s funny. You mislabel $70 of wine as food and you lose your job as Minister.

    You pay $200 million too much for a railway, and you get a directorship.

    Extrapolating from Heatley’s punishment, Dr Cullen should be looking at prison time.

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  6. emmess (1,432 comments) says:

    >>reduce budget deficits (New Zealand’s tends to run at a high 8-9% of GDP)

    That’s not right is it?
    Do they mean current account deficit?

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  7. freethinker (694 comments) says:

    The message is clear, cut government expenditure. Cut poor quality stuff now, reduce waste ie 10% off all dept budgets then plan to reduce total to 30% of GDP by 2015 enabling tax incentives to flow and debt servicing costs to fall and NZ will be well on the way to catching up with Ozzz.

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  8. SHG (318 comments) says:

    Disgraced former minister Phil Heatley was repeatedly warned by officials about his ministerial credit card use, new documents reveal.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3376202/Housing-Minister-Phil-Heatley-warned-before-over-credit-card-use

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  9. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Hell… its going to be hard to get candidates to stand for next years election… if he or she has to be honest with no perks.. have we forgotten the meaning of the word politician.. who are we trying to kid.. Most if not all New Zealanders are or try to wrought the system for their benefit in one way or another.. Why would our politicians be any different.. Just take their expense cards of them.. Let them pay with their own money first .. then reimburse them where appropriate later.. they have shown they are not to be trusted with their personal taxpayer funded expense cards.. and why should we be expected trust them.. we don’t trust ourselves.

    >>Greek people and their government alike went on credit-based spending sprees – living beyond their means. <<
    Sounds like a lot of our local councils are in for a ratepayers revolt.

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  10. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Just me or was the Herald slightly less pitchfork waving in their direction during the term of the previous government?

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  11. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Ben extrapolating from Heatley’s punishment, Dr Cullen should have been looking at his own entrails being pulled from body before taking a simultaneous holiday in four different parts of the country.

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  12. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    If the Stuff story noted by SHG above is correct, then that puts things in a completely different light. My first reaction was mild shock, mixed with a great deal of sympathy and even a modicum of admiration. Those latter two emotions are not something I normally associate with politicians, so I’ve been feeling discombobulated these past few days.

    It looks, though, as if I can slide comfortably back into default mode (“cynical contemptuousness”)…. ahhhhh feels like a warm bath on a cold day.

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