Heatley stood down

February 25th, 2010 at 11:02 am by David Farrar

No details yet.

UPDATE: Heatley has resigned as a Minister and is now a backbencher. Staying on as MP for Whangarei.

The catalyst was further checking of his expenses and it seems the fatal act was that a $70 expense for food and beverages did not include any food, so it was an inaccurate claim.

According to Radio NZ, Heatley has asked the Auditor-General to investigate his expenses, which is a good move.

It has been made pretty clear that unlike Helen Clark who would recycle Ministers back into Cabinet within 12 months, despite sacking them for very serious stuff such as lying directly to the media, or drink driving, that Heatley does not face a return to the Key Cabinet in the short or even medium term.

It is a bit of a tragedy for . He is one of the nicest guys around, and has been a superb MP for Whangarei. In 1999 he had a very small majority and has turned it into a massively safe seat for him.

His first couple of term were focused on securing the seat, but then as he turned more to portfolio stuff, he suprised a few people by performing very well, despite his friendly nature. He did good work in Opposition, and as a Minister had done very well as Housing Minister, especially as it was such a nightmare portfolio in the 1990s for National.

A parliamentary career is a harsh one. There are many perks, but mistakes can be fatal, and the lack of judgement shown on expenses has proven fatal.

I expect this will lead to Nathan Guy being moved in Cabinet, and possibly a new Minister outside Cabinet – with Craig Foss being the most likely if they decide to keep the Executive the same size.

Not sure yet who is Acting Minister of Housing and Fisheries, let alone who may get the portfolios permanently.

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98 Responses to “Heatley stood down”

  1. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Bugger. I stand to lose some money on this. I have been backing Tolley as the next to go for months.

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  2. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Anyone seen Neelam Choudary lately?

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  3. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Housing Minister Phil Heatley is expected to announce his resignation at 11am.

    Heatley has called a press conference in his office this morning. There are conflicting reports over whether Heatley has resigned of his own volition or been asked to step aside by Prime Minister John Key.

    Key has cancelled his engagements in Christchurch today and is on his way back to Wellington.

    Mr Heatley was this week forced to apologise and has paid back $1260 after revealations that he used his ministerial credit card outside the rules.

    His billing included $175 on alcohol and food at the National Party conference in Christchurch last August, and almost $1000 on travel during a ministerial trip to the top of the South Island with his family

    This morning details of ministerial and MPs’ expenses of all MPs have been released for the last three months of last year.

    Mr Heatley, 42, is also Fisheries Minister. He was born, raised and educated in Whangarei and is the electorate MP for the area.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3372681/Housing-Minister-to-announce-resignation

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  4. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    Great. We have waited a decade or more to have a prime minister who shows some integrity.
    John Key sacks a bloke for inappropriate use of a credit card makes headlines today but we must never forget the tortured efforts By Helen Clark to hide and spin on behalf of the convicted criminal Taito Philip Field.
    I have been grumbling and moaning about this government for quite a few months now but on this issue John Key has regained some respect for showing leadership with integrity.

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  5. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    That seems a bit silly to me.

    Even Annette King acknowledged on Newstalk ZB that the guidelines are very blurred and it’s easy to make a mistake.

    Unless this afternoon’s announcements/revelations show more inconsistencies?

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  6. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Good to finally see some accountability…

    If anyone in Labour attacks Key, hopefully they are reminded of their mafia style protection of the first corrupt MP in New Zealand’s history…

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  7. OliverI (112 comments) says:

    JK is tougher than HC! – Good to know that National’s standards are so high!

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  8. Bok2 (90 comments) says:

    And as much as the Nats have disappointed me with their ETS and back boneless handling of the anti smacking petition. Here is an example on how they are still 10 times better than the Labour government before them. At least these guys resign when they does something wrong or something embarrassing.

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  9. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    what’s wrong with the man .. we have had worse than this with MP’s .. piss head Dyson, scrapper Daffy and Big Phil Field who were defended to the hilt by their leader. One ended up is prison but did nothing wrong (according to his Party) and the 1st 2 were given a small suspension and then promoted. Are we really in a new world lead by an non corrupt leader .. oh no, this will be hard to get used to.

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  10. Michael (910 comments) says:

    His expenses don’t look out of line with other Ministers, especially given his electorate is Whangarei and will cost more to fly him to and from. Perhaps there are a lot more small items (like light meals and entertainment) he has claimed that only add up to a grand or two that he shouldn’t have claimed.

    I wonder if this relates to his Wellington accomodation payments following on from his earlier actions in that area?

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  11. Michael (910 comments) says:

    NZ Herald has a report – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10628418:

    Phil Heatley has resigned from his housing and fisheries portfolios after this week apologising to John Key for misusing a ministerial credit card.

    At a media conference today, Mr Heatley said he had offered his resignation to Prime Minister John Key this morning, and the resignation was accepted.

    “It’s been a privilege to serve the people of New Zealand as a Cabinet minister in this National Government but I believe I’ve failed to live up my own standard and for that and for that I’m embarrassed and immensely sorry,” Mr Heatley said.

    “The decision today comes after I’ve had a closer look at my ministerial credit card expenses covering the past 18 months.

    “I was not as familiar as I should have been with the rules, in fact I was careless.”

    Mr Heatley told reporters his accounts showed an error in addition to that already highlighted this week: an expense claim charging two bottles of wine as “food and beverages”.

    “There was no food included in this purchase,” he said.

    “I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning.

    “Furthermore, I have submitted my accounts to the office of the Auditor-General to conduct an independent inquiry and I expect those results to be made public in due course.

    “I have no desire to become the focus of distraction for this Government.”

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  12. pedrogarcia (52 comments) says:

    So Brownlee gets to sit pretty? Where’s the consistency?

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  13. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    The difference between the way this would have been handled if it were Labour ( MOVE ON ! ) and how National are handling this is very revealing.

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  14. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    I think he is only guilty of trying to entertain people !

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  15. Biomag83 (94 comments) says:

    Im just wondering if we havent got the full story yet. Seems very odd to resign over such a small matter. I suspect other more embarresing purchases have been made and better to resign now rather than having public find out

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  16. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Im just wondering if we havent got the full story yet.

    Dinner and drinks at “B&M Restaurant” perhaps….

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  17. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    He’s resigning. So not sacked. Unless Key told him to resign? Seems unlikely when it’s so relatively minor…

    [DPF: In my experience a Minister never resigns unless they have discussed it with the Prime Minister and the PM agrees it is the best course of action. While technically a resignation, almost all resignations are a form of sacking]

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  18. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Jesus there’s no mercy from National is there. Taito Philip Field would have been burnt at the stake. I shudder to think what they would have done to David Benson-Pope.

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  19. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Murray

    Yes it’s shocking isn’t it – the bloody govt have gone nuts…. they appear to have stopped acting like they are above the law…. idiots.

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  20. MikeMan (172 comments) says:

    Im just wondering if we havent got the full story yet. Seems very odd to resign over such a small matter. I suspect other more embarresing purchases have been made and better to resign now rather than having public find out

    As he has submitted all expenses for the AG to audit he is not dodging anything.

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  21. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Is that really a resignation offence? It seems pretty tough to me – albiet new standards of accountability are to be applauded.

    And I agree with your point about it being bloody sad for Phil. He actually is a genuinely nice guy and I thought had been handling his portfolios quite well.

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  22. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    I feel sorry for Phil as well — nice guy and one of the better performers in Cabinet –, but let’s get real here.

    1) He clearly broke the guidelines for usage of Ministerial credit cards, and let’s not get into Labour style fadging about whether that rule was rather silly and/or out-dated. That doesn’t make him a Tory Philip Field, but all the same we shouldn’t be be sending anyone a message that rules are there to be broken when they’re inconvenient. Certainly not acceptable for adults to run the “everyone does it” defence.

    2) In running up those charges in the first place, Phil failed to show the kind of good judgement and political nous I’d expect in a Minister.

    Two strikes isn’t good enough. Bugger.

    [DPF: While sad, the resignation is appropriate. While the amount of money is small, the difference between the latest issue (describing wine as food and beverages) and the earlier ones is significant. The earlier ones were mistakes. This one was a presumably deliberate inaccurate description]

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  23. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    This illustrates the stark difference bewteen Clark Cullen and the other Socialists and JK BE and the Nats.

    The former had no morals no ethics no integrity and a long list of examples whilst in government

    By contrast the latter have very high standards for their MPs.

    Step out of line even a little and you a gone burger.

    Finally after a decade of gutter level standards we are seeing an improvement

    Long may it continue

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  24. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    by the way .. I have also met Phil (Dr Paul invited him to a meeting in Puke) and he came across as a really nice guy, spoke well about his portfolios and seemed genuinely keen and positive .. I hope this will be a stand down with a positive return soon.

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  25. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    burt they could have at least warned us that they use a different version of “accountable” than dear leader. Its playing merry hell with the leftie trolls who want to bitch about things having been delt with already.

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  26. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    Isn’t he was of those anti gay, religious types. If so I am glad he is gone. BUT there is no difficulty over the use of these cards. If in doubt DON”T use it. Stop pushing the boundaries on what is or is not acceptable use.

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  27. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    I see Grant Robertson has put it on RednotsoAlert .. can’t wait to see the responses .. even spud noted it was quick .. they seem shocked the Nats didn’t stonewall the subject (I once mentioned the word stonewall on the substandard and was almost shot.

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  28. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    I shudder to think what they would have done to David Benson-Pope.

    Do you remember what the Devil did to Hitler in Little Nicky?

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  29. sagenz (30 comments) says:

    Respect Phil. Whatever happens in the future you have recognised you made a mistake and have regained your integrity.

    dpf- If Key had been the instigator he would not have been put in the position of cancelling his engagements. This is Phil Heatley’s decision and I hope you make that clear when you confirm it.

    [DPF: That is still not clear]

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  30. calendar girl (1,239 comments) says:

    Well said, those supporting this resignation. While sad for Heatley, it’s totally appropriate. The contrast with the sleaze of Helen Clark’s government could hardly be greater.

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  31. freedom101 (504 comments) says:

    Very quiet on the Labour front. I guess their glass house is far bigger and more elaborate than National’s!

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  32. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Yes tvb is right, we should exterminate all the “gay relgious types” they are clearly responsible for everything wrong in life including your acne.

    Where do we get these weirdos. I speak of tvb.

    Bevan, thats was pretty much what I was thinking.

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  33. Dirty Rat (504 comments) says:

    Heatelys problem is that he should have gone BIG!!!!

    He would never have to resign if he was getting subsidised by the taxpayer for his own house

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  34. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Wow at Michael’s 11.23 post, that blows my mind.

    Did we ever see an apology that unreserved, sincere, and deep, in 9 years of Labour?
    Well done Phil Heatley, you cocked up but have taken the consequences like a man

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  35. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    DPF

    It is not a tragedy for Heatley, a tragedy is a death in the family, a tragedy is a horrific train/car/plane crash.

    Heatley is just another Kiwi who lost his job today, there will be hundreds like him all over the county, the difference with Heatley is that he still manages to keep his hands in our pockets.

    If Heatley had any sense of honour he would resign from the house with immediate effect.

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  36. Jaime Raine (43 comments) says:

    I used to read this blog and enjoy it as it was one of the most objective political ones I’ve come across. Whenever the Labour government was dodging issues I relied on it as the best source of insider’s investigative journalism and political opinion. Now that National are in power it just seems to be a mega spin machine that downplays almost every single National party mistake. The OP briefly touches upon some minor issue about food and beverages not including food being the catalyst (big whoop – only an idiot wouldn’t think there was something worse going on), and then the condemnation ends there (not that it ever begun) and the rest of the post doesn’t ask any further questions but just goes on to talk about what a great guy Phil is – it’s almost like being subscribed to National’s press releases. Yes, I realise I don’t have to read this blog if I don’t want to but I am just providing some feedback (albeit more harsh than necessary).

    [DPF: You seem disappointed I have not subscribed to a conspiracy theory that something bigger is behind this. Well find me some proof of that theory. The calling in the Auditor-General would seem to suggest that is unlikely.

    And in case you missed it, I referred to the original credit card misuse as totally unacceptable. If you think that is downplaying it, then that says more about you]

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  37. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Thats what people said about David Benson-Pope nick… altough they may have meant somethign else. Labour man and all that.

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  38. Tassman (234 comments) says:

    That’s right, take the chicken way out…I don’t see Mr. Lockwood jumbing up and down for an investigation into the National dirt…. Justice has to be served for one and for all..

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  39. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    The left will leave it to their frothing at the mouth lapblogs to work this one over. They will not want too much sunlight on their own expenses.

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  40. Say Goodbye to Hollywood (562 comments) says:

    What happen Tassman? Did you wake up this morning and decide to take the idiot pill?

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  41. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Having a bullshit investigation to play for time and hide shit is the labour way tassman. If you’d read previous comments I’d already poited out that actual accountabilty fucks with the leftie trolls and you’re just demonstrating the point.

    Ladfies and gentlment, Tassman, my crash test demo dummy. He’ll be here all week, try the veal.

    Meataxe.

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  42. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    It was the right thing to do, but the greater good is that it will act as a deterrent to other Ministers. It lowers the bar on what is unacceptable behaviour.

    It is irrelevant whether he was a good Minister or not, or whether he is likable, the point is that when he became eligible for a Ministerial credit card he misused it and in so doing, demonstrated a lack of integrity and good judgment. If you lack those qualities then you should not be in Parliament.

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  43. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    Barnsley

    They are indeed frothing, one of those idiots have even put up a post that hints at deeper darker secrets as the real reason behind the resignation.

    It’s not as if Heatley has been arrested in LA and had that arrest hushed up is it.

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  44. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    There’s something fishy going on with the Heatley resignation.

    Rodney Hide didn’t resign (read wasn’t forced to resign) for attempting to rort the taxpayer for $10,022 to take his girlfriend to her brother’s wedding in the UK and a further $11,952 for taking her on holiday to Hawaii.

    But Heatley resigns over two bottles of wine worth $70 that he charged as “food and beverages” when there wasn’t any food involved.

    Go figure! There must be more to the story than that.

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  45. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Another thread about Helen Clark in all but name.

    LOL

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  46. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    toad – I guess the concept of “personal responsibility” is alien to someone who preaches a doctrine of state control

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  47. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    Hide is not a national MP Toad. AS you well know.
    Personally I would like to see every line of expense that MP’s and ministers have spent. Not just the summary totals with three categories. And I would like to see it backdated 10 years.
    I am sure that many of us could have weeks of fun going through mallards expenses knowing what we do about his very busy social life and likewise the weapons grade travelling troughpig from te atatu. The labour mp’s will not make a big deal of this one for fear of what might happen if we get to see a bit more detail on their efforts at picking our pockets.

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  48. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Inventory2, where was Hide’s “personal responsibility” then?

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  49. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    Toad – Rodney was completely inside the rules. It was an issue of appearances, not rule breaking.

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  50. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    toad – did Hide not pay back every cent from his own pocket? That’s pretty Personally Responsible from where I’m sitting. And don’t get me started on housing/superannuation plans …

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  51. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    “The catalyst was further checking of his expenses and it seems the fatal act was that a $70 expense for food and beverages did not include any food, so it was an inaccurate claim.”

    If nothing else this highlights the importance of picking up a packet of chips when getting the grog.

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  52. Jaime Raine (43 comments) says:

    DPF: You seem disappointed I have not subscribed to a conspiracy theory that something bigger is behind this. Well find me some proof of that theory. The calling in the Auditor-General would seem to suggest that is unlikely.

    Good point.

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  53. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    just listened to John Keys conference .. brought a tear to me eye .. marry me John.

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  54. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    Hagues………… said…
    “If nothing else this highlights the importance of picking up a packet of chips when getting the grog.”

    Exactly, company credit card purchase 101.

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  55. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    Toad

    Did the Greens ever pay back the money they stole from the tax payer at the 2005 election?

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  56. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    toad – personal responsibility is exactly that – personal. I look forward to seeing the last ten years of Ministerial credit card expenses released. Hell – even the last two would be interesting.

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  57. Nefarious (533 comments) says:

    Why the fuck does anyone who earns over two hundred grand a year need to put a meal or seventy bucks worth of piss on to a publicly funded credit card?

    Utter stupidity and the useless twat should hang his head in shame.

    These arseholes should have a performance based salary and nothing else. Don’t like the job then let someone else with the right motivations do it.

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  58. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Toad, some personal responsibility towards climate change might be shown by your Green MPs who have exorbitant airline travel expenses.

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  59. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Toad,
    Rodney Hide and Bill English were claiming those expenses on the grounds that they were doing so under according to the rules. Rodney Hide was entitled to claim the airfares, he just looked like a hipocrite for doing so. Bill English was entitled to claim the supplements – it just wasnt a good look during a recession : that is why neither of them have resigned.

    Phil Heatley as far as I can tell (and looks to have admitted) has mislead with the descriptions on his expense claims – whether it is deliberate or not, he has still mislead the public. Heatley deserves respect though for going to the Auditor General himself to request an audit.

    IMO, its high time for a thorough public audit of all politicians expense going back to at least 2005 – and then clear guidelines need to be implemented to ensure that the politicians know the rules, and that there is robust checking to ensure that any issues are dealt with transparently.

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  60. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    Looking at the published receipts (http://static.stuff.co.nz/files/Documents.pdf), what is slightly curious is that on 1 August at 6:09pm at Barcelona Restaurant he charged up $59 as “Food & Bev, Min. & wife” and then slightly over two hours later at the AMI Stadium, Oxford Street, he charged up $70 as “Food & Bev, Min. & wife”.

    I don’t know Christchurch, but say allowing ten minutes travel time between the two venues (would that be correct Christchurch readers?) then in the space of two hours Heatley and his wife glugged down two bottles of wine between them, and that would be alcohol in addition to that already earlier consumed and charged on his card at 6:09pm.

    Assuming his wife did not down a whole bottle for herself, then one must ask questions about a minister consuming this quantity of alcohol in two hours. I hope he wasn’t driving.

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  61. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to see some real governance other than this complete crap? Regardless of whether the last lot were, better, worse, or exactly the same, shouldn’t the current crowd of clowns be able to do better than this?

    If it’s true that the resignation is over a $70 expense then Key needs to resign for turning a $70 transgression into a resignation, and transfer of portfolios that will undoubtedly cost the taxpayer more in the long run.

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  62. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Chris2 consider the possibility (probability in fact) that there were other people at the table. Now take those company bic pens out of your satchel and put them back in the stationery cupboard.

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  63. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    Chris2 – it is possible that the first charge was after consuming the wine (ie as leaving the restuarant), and the next change prior to consuming the wine (ie pay as getting the wine from the bar). But it is also possible he’s a pisshead (he is a kiwi after all).

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  64. m@tt (629 comments) says:

    The Barcelona Restaurant is not even at the airport. It’s on the strip in the city.

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  65. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    Chris2 .. re drinking and driving, you would have to ask Ruth Dyson.
    re knocking back 4 bottles between them .. I would suggest that he would have put them on the table for guests/friends at the do at the stadium .. from experience, my wife and I struggle to get through 3 bottles .. hic

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  66. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @big bruv 12:36 pm

    You know full well that every party apart from NZFirst repaid the money that the Auditor General found had been expended in 2005 on purposes that were not Parliamentary. I recall that the Greens were among the first to make repayment. Labour’s tardiness in even accepting that the pledge card was not a Parliamentary purpose, let a lone paying the money back, is a good part of the reason they are not in Government now.

    I can’t recall how the Nats sorted out the issue of the GST on their broadcasting expenses, but they even managed to fix that one.

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  67. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    david – agreed, but this only compounds his problems, because in that case he would have further lied by claiming the expense was for him and his wife (only), when it was really for others as well.

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  68. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Gooner 12:47 pm

    Green MPs pay (personally, not from some Parliamentary expenses account) into a carbon offsetting scheme (a reputable one – not one of the ones operated by the airlines where you don’t really have a clue where the money is going) to plant trees to offset their air travel emissions.

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  69. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @jaba 1:02 pm

    Wusses!

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  70. Poliwatch (335 comments) says:

    I wonder how Labour will play this?

    They must be really worried that a list of their transgressions in this regard was available. Or is it DPF?

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  71. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Chris2, you would have to rule out that a minister is permitted some discretion to express a degree of generosity while on ministerial business. I don’t know the rules so can’t comment either way.

    I would expect that Ministers are constantly putting their hands in their pockets while going about their business, I certainly hope so anyway). Sorting them between legitimate parliamentary business, electorate business, ministerial business (and which portfolio in some cases) and what are personal expenses must be a nightmare

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  72. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    Toad

    We only have the word of your MP’s that they paid the money back, given the way they lied over the housing allowance scandal I think I would like to see proof that us tax payers have been reimbursed.

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  73. OTGO (551 comments) says:

    A couple of bottles of wine – really? If that is true cut the bloke some slack with a warning and let him get on with being a minister. Now that is has been highlighted it will serve as a warning to others.
    And some of you should stop and have a think about your own moments in time when you may not have been 100% honest with your employer.

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  74. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    Comparing the NZ Herald story to yours, this is the most misleading post I’ve seen from you DPF. I would suggest you update your post with a few more facts.

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  75. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    David

    Juggling expenses can be fiddly, but he served a long apprenticeship as an MP having to manage his expenses so why should he have a problem now?

    I think the temptation to become less than scrupulous with money that is not your own is the real issue – it lends itself to very cavaliar ways.

    We are seeing it with former Minister Roger McClay being investigated by police for allegedly using his ex-MP perk of taxpayer-funded flights on business trips and then claiming driving mileage from the charity he heads. And to keep it in apolitical, there was the Labour MP convicted of taxi-chit fraud.

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  76. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Lools like Heatley is a convenient fall guy, of his own making but convenient for Te Gummint none the less. Maybe we’ll see some more expense malarky come out, then Heatleys stock would rise comparatively…

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  77. happy-jacko (64 comments) says:

    Barnsley Bill said

    “Great. We have waited a decade or more to have a prime minister who shows some integrity”

    Its a sham – Key hasnt had any balls over the thieving finance company directors or shown any integrity over dealing to the useless officials who have done far worst to NZ failing to enforce the law, than this MP’s spending – ahhhh makes me sick.

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  78. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @big bruv 1:16 pm – You can have my word too bruv, because I was at the Green Party Executive meeting that passed the resolution to repay the money. If that’s not good enough for you, ask the Parliamentary Service.

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  79. GJ (329 comments) says:

    Heatly is a very good MP and obviously one that has Integrity. In life who of us is not guilty of making a mistake? He is paying a very big price, which is part of a public life, and I trust he is eventually rewarded for being up front and not trying to hide things.

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  80. wreck1080 (3,919 comments) says:

    Sounds like bullshit to me.

    Helen wouldn’t have even blinked an eyelid at this one.

    This appears to be over a $70 bill?

    I can only believe there must be more to it.

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  81. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    “Prime Minister John Key says he hasn’t lost confidence in resigning Housing Minister Phil Heatley and wouldn’t have asked him to quit had he not insisted on resigning.”

    So much for PM John Key being a saint to Helen Clark, the so-called “devils advocate”.

    Yeah right.

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  82. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Why didn’t he stand down pending the A-G’s report? Not even the opposition were asking him to resign- everybody pulls the wrong card out of their wallet from time to time.

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  83. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    So what went wrong, what changed?

    Why didn’t National simply put the house into urgency and pass retrospective validations saying that since the minister was only doing what ministers have always done that it’s not fair to punish him?

    Where is the infantile justification that others were doing it too?

    Why have the best interests of the NZ tax payers managed to trump the best interests of the National party MPs?

    Where is the precedent for holding MPs accountable rather than just flipping the bird at the tax payers and the AG ?

    Clarkenstien’s govt would never have been so stupid as to put tax payers ahead of MPs….

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  84. Nick Archer (136 comments) says:

    Credit where it is due for Heatley and Key…

    Just shows that you have to be 100% squeeky clean when you are in politics and not make some minor mistakes (if it was an honest mistake).

    Probably better and easier to claim $0 in any expenses and just let your salary cover it or to REALLY sit down and look at what you might claim on and think to yourself what would the PUBLIC (tax payers) think about this claim/spending? Otherwise don’t bother or you might have your own expenses scandal months down the track…

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  85. happy-jacko (64 comments) says:

    Dont worry … never fret… Heatly will be back – so will Bryers and Petricevic ….. just like Dame clarkenstiens has resurfaced as Ms Hero. It will happen!

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  86. Jay (2 comments) says:

    “It is a bit of a tragedy for Phil Heatley. He is one of the nicest guys around”. You have got to be kidding. The guy is a sleaze.

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  87. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    I would not even raise an eyebrow in surprise if the greens also owned shares in their ‘reputable’ carbon trading scheme (which has to be an oxymoron), either directly or via their super fund (specially now that they can;t cheat so much on the housing rort).

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  88. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    wreck1080

    I can only believe there must be more to it.

    Yes there is – principles. I know we didn’t see them for almost a decade – but it is good to see them back again.

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  89. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    David, I think your headline is a bit misleading. Mr Heatley did not stand down. He resigned. There is a huge difference.

    One stands down (or aside) pending the result of an enquiry upon the poisitve result of which one expects to be reinstated. John Key offered this alternative but Mr Heatly refused it and insisted on resigning.

    Foolishly, I think.

    Being a ‘nice guy,’ as everyone calls him, is no substitute for the hard grit and common sense necessary in politics. He seems to have little of either.

    Ministers don’t cry at press conferences.

    That privilege is reserved for losing Australian cricket captains.

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  90. max (31 comments) says:

    Might have to eat your words yet DPF
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3372681/Housing-Minister-Phil-Heatley-resigns-portfolios

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  91. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    DPF:
    “It has been made pretty clear that unlike Helen Clark who would recycle Ministers back into Cabinet within 12 months, despite sacking them for very serious stuff such as lying directly to the media, or drink driving, that Heatley does not face a return to the Key Cabinet in the short or even medium term.”

    From the NZ Herald’s account of John Key’s news conference:
    “Everyone is human and makes mistakes from time to time,” Mr Key said.
    Mr Key did not rule out bringing Mr Heatley back into Cabinet and returning his ministerial portfolios in the future. But he said he would wait for the Auditor-General’s report.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10628440

    [DPF: Yep I was wrong. I assumed that Heatley had been sacked, not voluntarily resigned]

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  92. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    Well said AG,

    It just goes to show that David continues facilitating political discussion with a partisan-styled pupil.

    I couldn’t care less what party an MP affiliates with: when they defy the political protocol in place for the benefit of the tax payer, they must be held accountable.

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  93. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Great Heatley has done the honorable thing and resigned as a Minister over inaccurate expense claims… that will put the pressure on all other Ministers and MPs expenses. Why not look at all government CEOs and all civil servants expense cards as well for inaccurate expense claims. I bet you will find they are all dipping here and there ripping of the taxpayer. Their excuse will be the rules on credit card spending are not clear enough. As they have done with accommodation expenses… Its Bullshit!… Keys has now set the standard… and make the rules very clear… get caught breaking the rules .. your gone… Brownly and English on your bike… Or is it only Heatley who knows the meaning of honorable. And came on Keys how high are those standards if only Heatley goes.

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  94. camrun (49 comments) says:

    It’s sad that 9 years of Labour have done so much damage to the reputation and public image of Parliament and MPs. I choose to believe a Minister and the PM could have some integrity, decency and show some personal responsibility by admitting to mistakes and accepting their punishment.

    Remember, Key is not Clark. Maybe what is best for NZ is more important to him than his friends keeping their jobs. I hope Key represents a change in the culture of Parliament and it can become a place of high moral standards.

    One can dream.

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  95. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    Obviously RKBee Those decent, law abiding, just waiting for the voters to wake up and see the ghastly mistake they made at the polls last time members of the glorious Labour Party did not make your list of those to be held accountable as they would never rort the system. YEAH RIGHT

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  96. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    “RKBee Labour Party members would never rort the system. YEAH RIGHT”

    The country voted in a new government that promised higher standards and accountability.
    John Key is now fulfilling that promise of accountability. Standards far to high for Labour Ministers to reach.
    I can’t see the country dropping its standards anytime soon.

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  97. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    In a previous life I was responsible for approving the monthly invoices of officially-issued credit cards in a Government department. It was a most unpleasant task because under policy I was regularly required to decline those claims that were not accompanied by a proper tax invoice.

    After Jeff Chapman (the former Auditor-General and ACC CEO) was convicted of fraud in the late 90’s, mostly using his official credit card for things like cash advances from ATM’s and hiring limo’s in New York, the then Government instituted a policy where it would no longer be permissible to simply hand in the customer carbon-copy of a credit card charge, because there was often little or no detail on the receipt about the expense incurred. Instead a tax invoice/receipt had to be included.

    My question is: why is this policy not in place at Ministerial Services? Why are they accepting claims from Ministers without supporting documentation. If they had followed this policy then Heatley’s two bottles of wine would have been identified promptly and it would have been returned to him to settle, thus the accounts payable person would have saved the Minister from losing his job.

    Incidentally, many rorts are known by a boss’s PA or Secretary, but they are almost always too scared of losing their job to say anything. Chapman’s ACC PA testified in Court that she knew some of his claims were wrong but feared losing her job if she raised the alarm.

    Finally a humerous story. A NZ businessman visiting London decided to go to a live show in the West End and chose the stage show “The Best little whorehouse in Texas”. He paid for his ticket with his Amex card. His account arrived home in NZ before him and his wife opened the statement and amongst the expenses was one that simple said “Whore – 65 pounds”.

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  98. slayfish (1 comment) says:

    Thank Christ you weren’t in charge of apostrophes and spelling in a previous life Chris2. Bottom line is elected representatives shouldn’t have taxpayer-funded credit cards. They should use their own money, then seek reimbursement. I imagine they’d be a damn sight more careful. Then we wouldn’t have pricks earning $243,000 a year figuring they can’t afford to pay for $70 worth of wine, or family trips to the South Island, out of their own pockets.

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