Espiner on Labour’s Hooray Henrys

June 12th, 2010 at 10:46 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner blogs:

What a disaster for . Any faint chance it had of winning the 2011 election has been buried in the rubble of the gluttony, greed, and wanton extravagance of its foolhardy MPs.

The ministerial credit card spending of Labour’s former stars makes National’s odd indulgences look like paragons of fiscal rectitude.

Even Tim the Groser’s bar bill pales into insignificance beside the flagrant disregard for taxpayers’ money shown by the likes of Chris Carter, Parekura Horomia, Shane Jones, Mita Ririnui and Judith Tizard.

At least Shane Jones admits he was wrong. I can’t believe the sense of entitlement from some of his colleagues.

Flowers for each other, $160 bottles of Bolly, 16 beers during a dinner for two, massages and spa treatments, health clubs, whiskey, cigarettes, helicopter rides, plane charters, fancy luggage, and all the other trappings of the high life.

To call a spade a spade, Labour’s MPs were taking the piss. They were taking the taxpayers of New Zealand for a ride.

It’s such a pity, too. Because the revelations contained in the thousands of pages of credit card statements released to the media reinforce every stereotype and prejudice the public has always had of MPs: that they were on the pig’s back at our expense.

And that’s something I’ve always argued against. Most MPs aren’t like that. Most are hard-working, have a conscience, and are careful with public money. But their colleagues have totally stuffed it up for them all.

It is worth noting that it is not a majority of Ministers who spent up large. In fact it will be interesting to see how the various Ministers and ex Ministers look once all the papers have been gone through.

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34 Responses to “Espiner on Labour’s Hooray Henrys”

  1. jaba (2,095 comments) says:

    is it possible that there are bigger revelations to come?

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  2. jaba (2,095 comments) says:

    mm Colin on the Nation as we speak

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  3. trout (918 comments) says:

    How come the worst troughers are from the ‘rainbow’ section of the labour party. Is it that they think that society owes them a good life after so much ‘suffering’, or it just fundamental selfishness and a lack of appreciation of how other people live and work and pay taxes.

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  4. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “In fact it will be interesting to see how the various Ministers and ex Ministers look once all the papers have been gone through.”

    True indeed.

    How come tho, that this has taken so long to come to light? Where are the checks? Are they working? Who is responsible for this fraud extending over such a period?

    Not only the troughers themselves in trouble here. Someone somewhere has either been covering up, or incredibly lax in their duties.

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  5. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Hopefully this is an example of fiscal rectitude that will be carried on by crown / pseudo-crown entities everywhere, like the ones Jones used to be involved with.

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  6. ben (2,414 comments) says:

    A wiki would be great for this. Give the people poring over these thousands of pages a single place to put what they find.

    Even better, give them standard tables to put their findings into for sorting and duplicate finding later.

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  7. real independent (30 comments) says:

    That all this happened under Helen Clarks’ watch starts to call into question her reputation as being in total control of her Ministers, MPs and the Labour party in general. However, timing is everything and the fact she was ensconced in her UN role before this scandal broke, means she escapes from it largely untainted.
    But we now must question the calibre, integrity and suitability of a large number of our MPs and Ministers.
    Here’s a list off the top of my head of recent transgressors, from all corners of the house.
    ‘Taito’ Phillip Field- CORRUPTION
    Rodney Hide- trough turning and hypocricy
    Bill English- creative manipulation of living arrangements for the purposes of maximising allowances
    Phil Heatly- credit card abuse(including but not limited to cutting it up) and stupidity
    Jim Anderton- Hypocricy and enjoying the sort of largesse on the tax payer that he is so often critical of in others
    Richard Worth- ??????????????????????????????????
    Hone Harawera- Not that he gives a shit, but conflict of interests in a flag making operation & general contempt for electorate
    Chris Carter- Too many to mention & how much does it cost to massage his ego anyway?
    Shane Jones- Watching more porn than the Chief Censor, while emptying the minibar
    The Old Whinebox (Winston Peters)- Careless use of a cigarette in an Estonian hotel room, while engaged in a long distance phone call to Owen Glen over a wink wink, nudge nudge donation, that never happened?
    Parekura Horomia- Special recomendation for single-handedly maintaining the hospitality industry during tough times
    Gerry Brownlee- Same as Parekura Horomia, plus an extra pie or 2
    Tim Grocer- Do all trade negotiations need to involve drinking games and funny dances?
    I could think of more and i’m sure you all can add to the list. But the point is that New Zealand politics is in a poor state and the quality of not only a few, but many of our paliamentarians must now be called into question.

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  8. Yvette (2,743 comments) says:

    Has anyone figured how List Member offending stacks up against Electorate Members or are both equally bad?

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  9. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    I think Clark kept a tight rein by saying that they can do what they want with the credit card in turn for keeping their mouths shut. They all kept them shut so it had the impression of a disciplined government.

    It proves the saying ‘ As thick as thieves’

    What will be interesting is if any previous minister come out of this with no inappropriate spending….they will be the true pollies with some measure of principle to their name.

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  10. tvb (4,247 comments) says:

    I have always thought this about the Labour Party. On a personal level they abuse taxpayers’ money and on a larger level the Labour Party abuses public money through many programmes that are ill thought out and have scant regard for value for money. If you do not mind a lax attitude to the spending of public money then you are probably a Labour supporter.

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  11. Yeti (64 comments) says:

    Strangely, the substandard seems to be very quiet today – looks like the thieves and charlatans have all gone to ground.

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  12. Southern Raider (1,735 comments) says:

    Why doesn’t National come out and state who Grosser was having lunch with on those two days. If it was staff then he deserves the ire of the public. However I expect it would have been Peruvian trade delegates in which case it is legitimate spending. I see the Trade and Foreign ministers as psuedo Account Directors for NZ Ltd and having a large client entertainment budget when you look at the rewards involved is standard business practice.

    In complete constrast the Labour MP’s were doing nothing but banking their salaries and expecting the tax payer to pick up personal expenses. In business I travel and also expected to present well. If I need new luggage or a new suit it is part of what is expected of me and comes out of my personal expenditure. No private business would live with this behaviour for 5 minutes.

    Jones is an arrogant dickhead, but his crimes pale compared to Carter who seems to have got off very lightly. Carter has been warned multiple times and is a repeat serial offender who has no regard for his employers (tax payers). His level of expenditure and the items purchased make Jones look like a angel.

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  13. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Strangely, the substandard seems to be very quiet today – looks like the thieves and charlatans have all gone to ground.

    Maybe they were funded by a now cut up credit card?

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  14. jaba (2,095 comments) says:

    haha Bevan .. that maybe true as I believe Labour does “sponsor” them

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  15. rightofleftcentre (76 comments) says:

    Much has been made by the protagonists in this play about how they have paid most of it back. What they fail to mention is that mostly they paid it back only after being requested to do so.
    And as for saying it’s impractical to have a second card for personal expenses when checking out – who’s leg are they trying to pull! That’s standard practice for many people using company cards – especially if you don’t want the boss to know what you’ve been watching. Listening Shane??
    Yup, it’s a great look to have the party of the underdog feasting at the trough of public goodwill. And when rumbled, at least Jones puts up his hand and apologises and says I’m a fool and sorry. As for Carter and many of the others – they still seem to exhibit an arrogant sense of entitlement……………

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  16. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    rolc@ 1 03 Surely you jest the New Zealand Labour party is no more the party of the underdog than the BNP in the U K. They are the party of the supposedly educated elite and they just take the undeserved support of the underdog as a given and until those idiots wake up they will get the same payback as the M P supporters got. Some of the current senior people in the National Party are equally arrogant and if they dont listen up we will descend ito a form of chaos like You aint seen nothing yet. I see some parallels to the Wiemar republic where fragmentation of political gaols and representation lead to the greatest disaster in recorded history. We appear to have no collective moral basis in our behaviour and an attitude of entitlement that pervades every level from the top down.

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  17. Tauhei Notts (1,644 comments) says:

    Southern Raider raises a good point.
    I see where sullen Cullen was criticised spending about $500 on booze for Australia’s Mr Swann & Co. Don’t those journalists know how much piss those Aussies drink.
    But had sullen Cullen been able to negotiate mutual recognition of franking and imputation credits then three times that sum on grog would have been money well spent.
    But I wonder if the sullen one put that mining super tax thought in Swan’s brain. A marvellous way to have NZ approach parity with Aussie by reducing Aussie to near our level.

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  18. trout (918 comments) says:

    The Labour faithful (under instructions?) are hitting the newspaper with letters to the editor in an endeavour to trivialize and excuse the expenses offending (yes, it is theft as a servant). My take is that they see a serious threat to the Labour party because LP MP’s are largely self appointed advocates for the working man (and woman) and the disadvantaged – and yet few of come from this group – their platform is a largely academic world view or the patronizing view of union leadership. They are not working class heroes, nor are they natural leaders. An abuse of trust, or a blatant exploitation of the working man by ripping off his tax contributions is likely to be dealt to at the ballot box.

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  19. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Duncan garner a short time ago on radio Live with Graham Hill

    ” I counted seven warnings fro Ministerial Services reagrding Shane jones use of the credit card for personal use, but he kept on doing it”

    Can’t really deny any misunderstanding then can he.

    So once again its not the crime thats really the problem its the continual contempt for the people of New Zealand with the fucking lies. If my kids lied bare faced to me like these clowns do to the electorate thay can expect a kick in the arse literally.

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  20. labrator (1,846 comments) says:

    Mita Ririnui seems to have been caught out making a genuine error. Seems he always repaid the items promptly and wasn’t made aware it was a mistake. Don’t know how he’s in the same list as Chris “can’t touch this” Carter.

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  21. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..How come the worst troughers are from the ‘rainbow’ section of the labour party…”

    crikey..!..i’ve never considered shane jones as ‘rainbow’…

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  22. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    the old ones all have far too much baggage now….

    labour/goff should have a major clean-out/generational-change….

    they are at least half responsible for the shit we now find ourselves in..

    ..wot with their inability to think past the next election bribe..

    ..and their wholesale slaughter of our environment…

    ..a pox on both labours’ and nationals’ house..

    and now we have these ‘nasty’ clowns….

    ..stumbling around in the dark..

    ..hunting benificiaries…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  23. jaba (2,095 comments) says:

    where is the eh, eh?

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  24. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    sorry…!

    ‘eh..?..’

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  25. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    “and now we have these ‘nasty’ clowns….

    ..stumbling around in the dark..

    ..hunting benificiaries…”

    For fucks sake Paula. I told you not to wear the clown suit………eh..? (JohnKey to Paula)

    (Johnboy.Sheepshagger.Lalaland)

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  26. DrDr (114 comments) says:

    Buying golf clubs and a mountain bike would count more than just silly mistakes. He used our credit to purchase items he felt he couldn’t live without. What sort of Wally doesn’t take their eft-pos or personal credit card in their wallet or purse when they are travelling? Obviously the politicians we elect are not as bright as we expect them all to be. Too many ex-unionists and school teachers. I wonder what Tim Groser’s expenses were like when he was a trade diplomat? Well worth a look I would say.

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  27. jaba (2,095 comments) says:

    she’s 5 foot 2
    her colour is blue
    Paula Bennett, is after you

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  28. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    he’s a class-warrior too

    his colur is blue..

    john key..is really screwing you..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  29. Viking2 (11,261 comments) says:

    philu. I DOUBT YOU WILL HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE SHORT FAT WESTIE. LIKE WESTIE CATS ALL PISS AND WIND.
    PAR FOR THE NATIONAL PARTY AND KIRO IS STILL HANGING ABOUT. LOOK LIKE TWINS THOSE TWO.
    BY THE TIME THE NATS GET ENOUGH JOBS TO EMPLOY YOU THEY WILL BE OLD AND GREY AND ON THEIR WAY;
    THE KNACKERS YARD I’D SAY!

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  30. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    Phil Twyford’s Facebook account has disappeared in recent days. Related? Though, TBH, I’m not sure how much lower ol’ Phil can slip…

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  31. kiwi in america (2,473 comments) says:

    These revelations and the reactions of Labour’s former Cabinet ministers tells you all you need to know about the left – that the means justifies the ends and of never really understanding the true role of elected representatives in a democracy. It explains the lengths the left goes to to get and stay in power. It reveals much about how they see government; as a tool of redistribution of wealth and power – from those they perceive as rich and elitist to those constituencies THEY choose to benefit. Knowing that a majority of people support the fundamental tenets of a capitalist economy and the notion of being personally responsible for their own actions, there is only so much of the social reconstruction agenda that the left will ever reveal knowing that the electorate would reject it. Hence we saw Labour’s nanny state attempts (shower flows, light bulbs, pies in tuck shops, regulating food sold at footy clubs, smacking law changes etc) always come after an election and are never signalled before.

    Because Labour in power is on a mission to protect the poor from the rich and powerful, those that can wield executive power take their governing role much more seriously. The wielding of that power is seen as integral to the entire psyche of the party, the reasons for its founding and fully justified after all the years of meetings, committees, sucking up, serving in the union movement, doing the grunt work for campaigns and languishing on the back benches so once in Cabinet, the built up sense of entitlement is enormous. When you add personal arrogance (most evident with Anderton and Carter) a sense of invincibility emerges and when one gets used to a life of Crown limos, being seated at the front of the plane, having staff at your beck and call, having ministry underlings sucking up and having your ego being stroked daily by pressure groups jockying and lobbying you for your ear, it is easy to see why hiring a helicopter, buying flowers or a bottle of Bolly comes naturally. At least Shane Jones had the decency to realise the extent to which his situation was FUBAR. Where was Clark’s vaunted discipline and control? There is absolutely no way that the most egregious excesses were not known about by H2-the Parliamentary and Cabinet Services staff internal notes and comments would’ve most definetely come to her attention. Whilst its true that perhaps Simpson banked on the fact that it would be years before the spending would see the light of day, surely she was watching how this same scandal unfolded in Britain and how it ended or stymied the careers of so many MPs.

    It makes Phil Heatley’s bottle of wine and meal look positively measly in comparison. He acted switfly and honourably when he was caught. It will be very interesting to see if Goff’s front bench punishments meet the crime he accused Heatley of. Parties from the right have a tendency (not universal by any means as there are plenty of examples around the world of centre-right party representatives having their snouts in the trough) to view public service as more of a stewardship in that the people are their boss and the taxpayers funds are to be carefully spent. Whilst plenty indulge in wasteful government spending, there is more of a philosophical gene towards smaller government or at least to more efficient government. Because a higher percentage of MPs and thence Cabinet Ministers come from the private sector, the notion of accountability to a board and/or shareholders is more clearly understood than if you were a teacher, university lecturer or trade unionist. A higher percentage on National MPs have businesses or private income streams and the money they make even as a Cabinet minister is sometimes means an income cut as they divest themselves of businesses, shares and directorships. This means the funding of private lifestyle indulgences is more easily afforded and more commonly experienced before being in Parliament whereas some Labour Cabinet ministers will never earn as much as they did when they were in Cabinet unless they were able to leaverage post Parliamentary appointments to boards and/or Qangos.

    Finally, this episode puts John Key in a good light as a prudent manager of his team and the attitudes they bring to the role of governing. Key had no more or less power than Clark over the use of government issued credit cards. He made it a priority to discipline his MPs to act prudently at all times. Knowing that the left leaning media tend to give their fellow travellers on the left more of a pass may lie behind some of the discipline. At the end of the day, the overwhelming sense one gets from the contorted excuses of Labour’s caught culprits is an odious attitude of entitlement and of being above the law.

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  32. Pete George (23,306 comments) says:

    I agree that this puts Key in a good light. But I’m not sure it is such a left bad, right good example. National (and Act) haven’t been in government long and have shown they are not immune from entitlement syndrome. You are comparing examples of the first couple of couple of years in government with the last five of nine years in government, so it is a far from even comparison.

    My guess is that the length of time in power has made a difference (to some). And the length of time as a politician. And what they worked at before becoming a politician.

    Key has not been in parliament long, has spent a lot of time working real jobs in the real world, and what he earns and what perks he gets are relatively insignificant. So he is an obvious candidate to allow the spotlight and scrutiny to go on. To an extent Labour are unlucky they are the ones that have been exposed due to timing.

    Note also that so far anyway it is only a few of those from Labour who seem to have been excessive.

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  33. kiwi in america (2,473 comments) says:

    Peter
    My observations are also general across the decades and across the western English speaking democracies. I really can’t imagine that after all this drama (and the even bigger drama in Westminster) that even the weakest in Key’s ministry would be tempted to do what their Labour counterparts did.

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  34. Pete George (23,306 comments) says:

    KIA
    I really can’t imagine that after all this drama ANY MP would be tempted to do what some in Labour, National, whatever party Jim Anderton is or anyone else have done.

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