Sunday coverage of expenses

The HoS reports is close to quitting Parliament:

New Zealand’s first openly gay Cabinet minister is close to quitting Parliament because he is sick of being attacked as a “luxury-loving gay boy”.

Chris will quite Parliament at the next election – because his colleagues are so pissed off at him.

“Do you want to live your life with this stuff going on all the time? You know, I love being an MP. But there might well be a point soon where I think this is just not worth it.”

Yes, how dare one have to endure scrutiny of spending.

But he said the public perception of him as living the high-life at the taxpayer’s expense was grossly inaccurate – and he still drives a 1996 Suzuki Swift.

The only thing grossly inaccurate is Chris’ perception. It is a shame – he used to have a well developed political instinct, but it has deserted him.

“I have lots of faults … but arrogance, pride and love of luxury are not among them.”‘

So why the $6,000 of limo hire?

No other Minister has been “forced” into hiring them, as you claim you were by the Australian Government.

Matt McCarten writes:

This week the credit card expenses came out on Thursday and none of it was good for Labour.

A number of former Labour ministers clearly didn’t know where the line between their public responsibilities and personal luxury needs started and finished. …

But what these ministers didn’t get is there are rightly different standards for them. They are in the privileged positions of being leaders, where their personal ethics and integrity are important no matter what their political stripes. Carelessly using a ministerial card for personal luxuries is thoughtless at best and corrupt at worst.

There are two types of politicians – those that think it’s a privilege to be a representative of the people and those who think it’s a privilege for us to have them. You can guess which category the ministerial card abusers fall under.

As we saw in the previous story.

And Kerre Woodham writes:

Phil Goff thundered sanctimoniously that Heatley’s position went to his head.

He’d barely been minister for a year, Phil Goff expostulated, and his sense of entitlement was such that he ordered two bottles of wine with dinner. Heads should roll, Phil finished.

Well, as sure as the karma bus will make a stop at your door, Labour has found itself having to explain away thousands of dollars worth of credit card bills run up by its former ministers.

Karma indeed.

Chris Carter, the serial trougher, was at it again. Despite being advised repeatedly as to what was appropriate use for his ministerial credit card, and despite being sent the entire parliamentary policy on credit card use, just as a reminder, Chris Carter continually bent the rules.

Movies, flowers, fruit and massages – whether the massages had happy endings isn’t specified on the bill – all popped up on Carter’s credit card.

Oh Kerre. Too much detail.

And the HoS editorial:

The most extraordinary aspect of the scandal over spending irregularities that has destroyed ’ leadership aspirations – and possibly his entire political career – is that he ever imagined he might get away with it.

In numerical terms, Jones is not in fact the worst offender in the latest round of revelations: his one-time colleague in Cabinet, Education Minister Chris Carter, actually ran up 33 per cent more than Jones – on flowers, designer clothing and spa treatments.

Most gallingly, he used his ministerial card to buy flowers for Lianne Dalziel after she was sacked as Immigration Minister for lying about having leaked documents to a television channel.

The logic by which he could regard it as a ministerial duty to console a colleague who had sought to deceive the public remains obscure to everybody but him, it appears.

The thought of personally paying for the flowers did not occur I suspect.

… principal among them is the requirement that no personal expenditure be incurred on a ministerial card. That means precisely what it says: it does not mean that it is all right to run up private expenses with the intention of later reimbursing them.

Many of us run two or more plastic cards and make daily decisions about which to use, for reasons of our own personal accounting. It is no great burden to do so, and it is the least we might expect of someone carrying a card for which the taxpayer picks up the tab.

No great burden and very common.

The events of the week have surely irretrievably damaged the mana of a man who was widely tipped to succeed Phil Goff as Labour leader and, in the eyes of many, potentially the country’s first Maori Prime Minister.

Sad though that is, there is a sense here of history repeating itself. Winston Peters and were in their turn cloaked with the mantle of future premiership.

Hmmn, it does seem to be a sort of curse.

And finally the SST reports:

Jones is being urged not to resign as Goff looks set to use the scandal to shake up his front bench.

Jones and Te Atatu MP Chris Carter face demotion tomorrow after Goff’s return to a party in disarray over revelations going back seven years.

The release of credit card receipts last week show Carter notched up bills for limousines, flowers and massages, while Jones watched dozens of pornographic movies. He repaid the money before he handed in his credit card, but Carter is still paying money back.

Jones, who has been tipped as a potential leader, is considering his future, but has ruled out resigning.

Samuels said Jones shouldn’t quit. “He has got leadership qualities I don’t think anybody else in the party has. Many in Maoridom would be very disappointed if he resigned.”

And besides if Jones goes, who else will be there to grant citizenship for Dover’s mates?

Finally John Tamihere writes in :

THIS week the Department of Internal Affairs disclosed detailed lists identifying expenditure of ministers in the Labour Government from 2003-2008. I was a minister from 2002-2004.

I had no idea I could order massages, flowers, porn movies and booze galore. The biggest scalp achieved by the clever release of this information was Shane Jones.

While others erred and were arguably worse, particularly Chris Carter, Jones is the big story.

He entered Parliament as the Labour Party attack weapon on the Maori Party and as a person who had huge cross-over appeal into non-Maori communities.

He has Dalmatian ancestry and was gaining significant support for a tilt at the Labour leadership once they lose the 2011 election.

I am not sure Jones was going to wait until 2011.  Phil Goff’s leadership has been made much safer by this.

The question is, can he survive as a politician? He is a list MP and does not have a constituency to fall back on. He is at the whim of the back-room Labour Party machinery.

That machinery is driven predominantly by a group of women who stretch across the gay, union and the woman’s divisions of the party. They control the moderation committee that decides where you sit on the party list. I sat on that committee for the 1999 and 2002 elections.

All of Shane’s colleagues are going to tell him he has a future in politics and not to quit. And then come the 2011 list ranking, he’ll be given an unwinnable place.

Comments (112)

Login to comment or vote