Jonathan Marshall reports in the SST:
EMBATTLED MP Pansy Wong has been “interrogated” by officials over allegations of travel perk misuse.
The National MP and former minister is under investigation by Parliamentary Services after admitting travelling to China with her husband using a travel perk that entitled her to a 90% discount. Rules state the perk can only be used for private travel but her husband, Sammy, conducted business while there.
All of Wong’s travel, including 10 trips taken while a minister in the current administration, are under review.
Last week Wong was hauled into an “interrogation” by investigators, a source close to the inquiry said.
“Pansy was spoken to and it is expected the results will be ready within a few days,” the source said.
Good. Decisions should be made on the basis of a thorough investigation and the facts as they are revealed.
There are generally seven outcomes from MP “misbehaviour”. In rough order they are:
- No action taken at all
- Money is repaid, but no other action – various Ministers and former Ministers who had minor inappropriate spending
- A formal reprimand or warning – Phil Heatley
- A demotion but no loss of pay – Chris Carter, demoted from front bench to second bench over his perks
- Sacking/forced resignation from a role which results in loss of pay – sacked from Cabinet, or as Deputy Speaker etc
- Suspended or expelled from Caucus
- Criminal charges laid
No 5 has already happened. What we don’t know is whether the facts support No 6 or No 7 occuring. No 7 will not be a decision for the Government, it will ultimately be a matter for the Police of the SFO.
No 6 will be a matter for the party caucus. It is generally used over issues of party loyalty – Chris Carter for example was not suspended over his use of perks – he was suspended for his letter to the press gallery. Even Taito Philip Field was not suspended for his corrupt behaviour – he was suspended/expelled for saying he might stand against Labour.
It is possible No 6 could happen if Caucus felt that the report is so damning that Pansy should resign immediately from Parliament. However the view might be that having a by-election in election year is a waste of money, if (for example) Pansy indicates she will be retiring at the election anyway.
It is good the report is likely to be complete soon, as that will then allow judgement and decisions to be made.Tags: MPs expenses, Pansy Wong