Pansy Wong has resigned as a Cabinet Minister:
“It is beyond my wildest dreams that a baby girl born in Shanghai, China, grew up in a Hong Kong apartment where eight families shared a single kitchen and bathroom to be New Zealand’s first List M.P., first constituent M.P. of Botany and first Cabinet Minister of Chinese and Asian ethnicity,” says Pansy Wong.
“That dream is not mine alone and it comes with expectation, responsibility and hope. I have tried every single day to keep that dream alive and nothing should happen to dash that dream.
“That dream can only be kept alive by living up to the high standard set by the Prime Minister and myself. Therefore I have given my resignation as a Cabinet Minister to the Prime Minister.
Those of us who live in the country were were born in, probably can’t appreciate what an incredible feeling it must be to not just move to another country to live, but to be able to be elected to that country’s Parliament, let alone become a Minister of the Crown.
It is a sad ending to a career which give inspiration and aspiration to many “new” New Zealanders.
But resignation and paying it back may not be the end of the matter. In 1999 former Labour MP David Butcher was convicted of fraud for claiming trips off the ex MPs travel perk, when the travel was for work purposes.
Now the situations may not be identical. Until the facts are known, one can’t conclude whether or not there may be issues of criminality involved. The Parliamentary Service is doing a full investigation of all previous uses of the travel subsidy by Pansy, and once that investigation is done, they will presumably make a decision as to whether to refer it to the Police or not.
Labour’s initial focus on what title Pansy used while witnessing a document was misguided, but sometimes you get lucky and raising the issue got the media asking about who paid for the travel. Labour will be pleased with the outcome – a scalp is a scalp.
Most Nats will be pleased that, as usual, John Key has acted quickly and shown he is holding Ministers to far higher levels than ever before. Hell previously one wouldn’t even know what a Minister’s expenses were.
The focus will also go on who will replace Pansy as a Minister. This assumes that the PM won’t use the opportunity to reduce the size of the Executive.
Either Nathan Guy will be promoted from outside Cabinet to inside Cabinet or a new Minister will be appointed direct to Cabinet.
Chris Tremain and Craig Foss must remain the front runners to become the new Minister. However if the PM wanted to shake up the Mana by-election, he could appoint Hekia Parata. That would not go down too well with the class of 2005, but would allow National to say to the voters of Mana they have a chance to get a Cabinet Minister advocating for them. It would be a gamble..
The other issue is what happens to Pansy’s portfolios of Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs. If Hekia was the new Minister they could go to her, but not sure either Craig or Chris would be wanting those portfolios. Georgina te Heuheu could well pick up Ethnic Affairs. Women’s Affairs could go to Judith Collins, Georgina or Kate Wilkinson. I doubt they’ll want to distract Anne Tolley or Paula Bennett from their major portfolios.
The Associate portfolios of ACC, Disability Issues and Energy could well go to the new Minister. They would also need a primary portfolio, so one of the Ministers outside Cabinet could end up handing over Stats or Senior Citizens perhaps.
I await the iPredict stocks on the issue!