Update: Goff has announced Jones, Carter, and Ririnui have been demoted. The heat should now go on Key to act on his Ministers.
Phil Goff is back in the country and, as predicted, his first move is going to be to take their portfolios off Shane Jones, Chris Carter, and, probably, Mita Ririnui for their misuse of their credit cards. The attention will now turn to the abuses of those who haven’t been punished.
Tim Groser and Murray McCully have charged thousands of dollars in personal alcohol to their ministerial cards.
There is no sensible way we can say that using the ministerial credit card to watch movies in hotel rooms is a sackable offence while using the credit card to buy bottles of booze in a hotel room is not. Either watching a movie and getting something from the minibar is an ‘incidental’ of ministerial travel within the definition set by the rules or they are personal activities – there is no substantive difference (once we can get past the Right’s hypocritical wowserism) between the two. The Right is trying to defend Groser and McCully by saying that they work hard and just want to relax. The response to that is surely the same as the criticism of Jones – if you want to buy something to relax, use your own money.
Carter’s attitude pisses me off. He says he’s sick of being cast as a “luxury-loving gay boy”. Yeah, sure, there is a homophobic-baiting element to the Right’s singling out of Carter (and to a lesser extent, Charles Chauvel) but the fact is Carter has been incredibly loose with taxpayer money and even now doesn’t seem to realise that he’s not met the public’s attention.
He’s a good local MP and there’s no reason for him to resign from Parliament (btw, why are people talking about who is next on Labour’s list? Carter holds Te Atatu and his resignation would spark a by-election) but it’s right that Carter be demoted.
Carter will be punished for the wasteful attitude he has had to public money. The same profligate attitude is seen in current ministers.
Nathan Guy had ministerial services pay $7,000 to rent a house that he never moved into and sat empty for months and is now being paid $30,000 a year to live in an apartment in Wellington that he owns. (strange, couldn’t find this story on Stuff any more)
Guy’s greed, of course, sits in the shadow of Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English. Like Jones, Ririnui, and Carter, English paid back some of the public money that he took for living in his own house back but, as with Labour’s former ministers, that doesn’t erase the problem.
Nick Smith wasted $207,000 of taxpayer money on a defamation case. The insult was that Smith wasn’t even trying to get off paying damages. He was dragging the issue out trying to negotiate a smaller payout, and ended up with one that was less than the money he costs us paying for his lawyers.
Labour has not denied there is a problem with its MPs’ behaviour. They are acting. What about National? Will they hold their people to account?