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Heatley resigns both portfolios

Written By: - Date published: 10:59 am, February 25th, 2010 - 75 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

According to Stuff Housing Minister Phil Heatley has resigned and the PM has rushed back to Wellington to hold a press conference.

Apparently MP spending records for the last three months of last year were released this morning. Coincidence? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Update: RNZ reports Heatley will resign from both his ministerial portfolios.

Update 2: As suspected, “Heatley told the media conference this morning that he had decided to resign after finding another discrepancy in his expenses.”

Update 3:Heatley says he’s resigning because he said one of his non-permitted ministerial credit card expenses was for ‘food and beverages’ when it was actually just for wine. If you believe that you’ll believe anything. Food and beverages is a standard description that quite legitimately covers wine and no minister is going to resign over petty semantics. There’s something else going on here.

75 comments on “Heatley resigns both portfolios ”

  1. Dancr 1

    I wonder if stood down means he’s going, or if there’s an investigation soon to be underway? They won’t want this getting in the way of their Budget messaging so I pick the former!

  2. let’s turn it into a domino effect

  3. HitchensFan 3

    and the wheels begin to fall off………excellent

  4. sk 4

    no wonder DPF was so grumpy yesterday

  5. Anne 5

    and the crocodile tears are about to flow… right now.

  6. Jeremy 6

    Can’t wait to see the details of the spending records, going to be some juicy stuff in there

  7. Lew 7

    First (? — I don’t think I’ve missed any) ministerial scalp from this government claimed by the Auditor-General, not by the opposition. Could be a lot worse for them, but the wider themes behind this need to be run very strongly by the opposition if they’re to avoid it being reframed.


  8. Bright Red 8

    Sounds like he’s gone.

    You got to wonder about Key’s leadership if he didn’t know about this before the expenses were made public.

  9. What a refrshing change to see a PM of NZ not try to hide and spin their way out of a wayward ministers poor judgement. Contrast this with the farce that was labours attempts to spin and hide when Philip Taito Field was first accused of being a criminal.
    So. National sack people for inappropriate use of a govt credit card.
    And Labour do their damdest to explain away fraud and corruption.
    Well done John Key.

    • Bright Red 9.1

      yeah, isn’t it wonderful to have such a corrupt government.

      do you think Key will think we should be allowed to know why this minister is fired or do you think he will keep it secret from us like last time?

    • Lanthanide 9.2

      “What a refrshing change to see a PM of NZ not try to hide and spin their way out of a wayward ministers poor judgement.”

      So I guess you forgot about Worth and Key refusing to say why he left parliament, then?

    • IrishBill 9.3

      I’d say it’s because Heatley is a lightweight and thus disposable. I doubt we’ll see Gerry going the same way.

      The media may well run with the meme that this shows Key has real steel beneath his nice guy image. I’d say he’s just got some disposable people under him that cost little to let go.

    • Richard 9.4

      That is absurd Barnsley Bill. John Key was just on TV the other night defending Heatley, saying how it was an honest mistake. And look how long it took to get rid of Worth. Contrast that with Ruth Dyson – she was probably still over the limit when Clark sacked her.
      The Field issue was complex. Why do you think it took about three years to get to court? His guilt wasn’t immediately apparent. The smoking gun of an incriminating credit card statement is a bit different.
      So….Brownlee next then?

  10. Lanthanide 10

    Ok, so is he resigning because of the $1,200, which IMO has been over-hyped, or is he resigning because of other expense troughing that he’s done?

  11. To be fair John, we’ve simply had a guts-Phil of your rorting ministers.

    Resign your commission and go to the country.

  12. toad 12

    Bugger, I’m going to lose some money over this. I’ve been backing Tolly as the next to go for months. Guess she must be too thick to work out how to rort her expenses though.

  13. Jeremy 13

    @Barnsley It doesnt look like John Key did anything? He’s had to cut his day in CHCH short and rush up to Wellington to hold a press conference, sounds like he found out a few hours ago, when (I assume) Heatly told him of the news.

  14. mike 14

    Phil Heatley is only guilty of trying help people..
    What a contrast in leadership Clarks stalls and spins / Key sacks the bastards

  15. gitmo 15

    “Mr Heatley said he had discovered another inaccuracy in his ministerial expenses, whereby two bottles of wine charged as “food and beverages” was actually only wine.

    “I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept that this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.

    “But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning,” Mr Heatley said.”

    He he, I hope this sets a precedent for all political parties there’ll be no one left in parliament by the end of the month.

    • Lanthanide 15.1

      Seriously, he’s resigning over a misrepresentation of two bottles of wine?

      Rodney didn’t resign after his overseas jaunt. He didn’t go crying to the camera crew either.

    • Lew 15.2

      When I used to work at establishments frequented by these folks’ predecessors, the euphemism of choice was “entertainment”. But I can see why they changed that.


  16. Bright Red 16

    “Mr Heatley said he had discovered another inaccuracy in his ministerial expenses, whereby two bottles of wine charged as “food and beverages” was actually only wine.

    “I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept that this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.

    “But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning,” Mr Heatley said. ”

    I don’t believe that for a second. You don’t resign over semantics. You don’t resign because you said ‘food and wine’ when you should have said ‘wine’

    • Armchair Critic 16.1

      “You don’t resign because you said ‘food and wine’ when you should have said ‘wine'”
      But it sets a great precedent. If the trivial difference between ‘food and wine’ versus ‘wine’ is enough to resign over, then so is the conflict of interest over $36 of shares in a mining company.
      The absence of a resignation from Murray McCully shows the difference is just their utility to the government, i.e. Heatley is disposable, and the ethics don’t really count for anything.

      • gitmo 16.1.1

        Um are you retarded – the $36 dollars worth of shares were declared for all to see ……… to harp on about this non issue is laughable at best.

        • Armchair Critic

          Oh, poor gitmo, did I hit a nerve?

          • gitmo

            Only the one in your own rectum

            IrishBill: Over the last few weeks you’ve stopped commenting sensibly and become a drive-by troll. I’ve not warned you because I figured you would get back to normal eventually but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Is there a reason you’ve changed you style to one that adds nothing to discussion and clearly invites moderation?

            • pollywog

              Theres nerves in my rectum ?

              I must be so desensitised from getting continually shafted by the current gov’t that i no longer feel anything.

    • coolas 16.2

      Does seem strange to resign over what is a trivial ‘mistake’.
      Maybe he is the fall guy to distract from all the other struggling Ministers.
      Spins Key as tough and taking no nonsense. Strong leadership. A charade of course but well crafted by Crosby/Textor no doubt. Just a thought.

  17. Jeremy 17

    I recon he’s been leaned on to resign to take the spotlight of Tolley in the House. He’s an extremely low profile Minister, and the media seem to finally get that Tolley hasn’t got a clue.

    Why else would the Nats back-peddle on cancelling Question Time today?

    • Lew 17.1

      If that was the play, better to just hold off question time. As it stands, another thrashing by Mallard in the house will turn the headline from “Minister resigns” to “horrorshow day for the government”, with attendant “wheels falling off” exaggeration.


    • Lanthanide 17.2

      Is question time back on?

    • Bright Red 17.3

      I don’t buy it. At most that would buy a few days distraction. Tolley will be a disaster until she is gone.

  18. Bright red, I can see how somebody showing some humility and decency might be a tad confusing for you. Perhaps if he had taken advantage of illegal immigrants, taken bribes and then perjured himself it might have been easier to understand? This is the starkest contrast between John Key and the corruption of the last Labour Govt we have yet seen.
    And I bet the Labour Caucus don’t make a big deal out of this because their expenses are available to view now as well so it will be left to the socialist blogs to blow it all up and let the Labour MP’s keep their heads down.

    • Lew 18.1

      This is the second-best reason why sentence #1 in caucus after the election should have been “keep your fucking noses clean”. If the opposition haven’t, they don’t deserve to make any hay out of this.

      (The first-best reason, of course, is “it’s not your money”.)


    • Bright Red 18.2

      English was caught rorting tens of thousands of dollars as was Heatley, they didn’t resign.

      Bennett breached the Priavacy Act and her duty of care. She didn’t resign.

      Tolley can’t explain basic elements of her flagship policy and Bennett can’t define hers. They didn’t resign.

      Brownlee and Heatley were caught charging personal expenses to their minsiterial credit cards. They didn’t resign.

      And now we’re expected to believe that Heatley is resigning over semantics?

      Pull the other one.

      • Clarke 18.2.1

        I’m convinced there will be a slow but steady string of resignations, and all the portfolios will be given to Steven Joyce. When he finally has all the strings in his hands, the mask will drop off and – bwahahaha! – the ghost of Muldoon will stalk forth into Parliament’s corridors.

    • Faireys live at the bottom of Bills Garden along with some National Party gnomes!

      Built any space ships in your lounge recently Bill? Yup Cabinet ministers resign every day for saying they bought food and wine when really it was just wine?

      • lukas 18.3.1

        “Faireys live at the bottom of Bills Garden ”

        Helen, is that you? How is the weather in New York?

  19. Pascal's bookie 19

    “This morning’s press conference lasted just five minutes, with an emotional Mr Heatley reading a prepared statement and answering only a handful of questions before staff led him from the room.”


    And they usta call it ‘Helengrad’.

  20. grumpy 20

    Nah! Key has just set the bar. when Labour’s expenses come out soon, it will put huge pressure on Goff to follow suit. How long for Carter??

    • Lew 20.1

      The bar — set somewhere above “bottles of wine” but below all the things BR lists above. Where is the bar, exactly? It sounds like Heatley knew his way to it, at least.


    • gobsmacked 20.2

      Nobody knows or cares who Labour’s Housing and Fisheries spokesman is/are.

      The bar that matters is for Ministers, and they just got a cure for constipation.

  21. gobsmacked 21

    Karma, innit?

    News expands to fill a vacuum. Gov’t puts Parliament in urgency, no big political news yesterday, no footage of Ministers under fire, everyone relax, enjoy the recess, back to photo-ops and doodles …


  22. grumpy, the totals are already out. they are on the parliament website with category totals for each member and minister. carters expenses are very high but not the highest. As you would expect the Northland members are way up there but they are having to contend with the fact that only air nz fly up here and really gouge passengers to get into keri or kaitaia.

    • grumpy 22.1

      How many bottles of wine do you think were on them – or pies?

    • Bright Red 22.2

      Carter is Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson. His expenses will be relatively high for an MP because of the travel he does in his role. it makes more sense to compare him and Goff with ministers than backbenchers.

  23. aj 23

    This doesn’t make Bill English’s repsonse to rorting housing allowances look any better either

  24. grumpy 24

    What Key should now do is send all Minister’s expenses off to the Auditor General – say for the last 5 years and having now set the bar, pursue fraud charges.

    • Bright Red 24.1

      Well, English would be gone for starters.

      And David Carter and Judith Collins and the other housing rort ministers.

  25. big bruv 25

    but, but, but……

    Heatley was only guilty of trying to help people.

    Well done Key, while I am no fan of the man he has done the right thing this time.

    How I wish Clarke has shown the same type of leadership.

    • pollywog 25.1

      “How I wish Clarke has shown the same type of leadership.”

      Who’s Clarke ?

      • Lew 25.1.1

        The only Clarke I can think of in this context is a commenter here at The Standard. Not sure what leadership he or she is supposed to have shown, but that’s hardly the most puzzling aspect of BB’s discourse.


        • pollywog

          oh chur.. i thought he meant Clark Kent but I’m sure theres no E at the end ?

          but…hey look over there ? is it a bird or a plane or a weapon of mass distraction ?

  26. JB 26

    Heatley was chosen to be the sacrificial goat so Key can be seen to be taking a hard stand on “corruption”. The wine and food thing is largely just an attempt at justification on why it took him so long, since people wouldn’t accept “we were waiting to see what the polls turned up before taking action” as an excuse.

  27. Nick 27

    Heatley says he’s resigning because he said one of his non-permitted ministerial credit card expenses was for ‘food and beverages’ when it was actually just for wine. If you believe that you’ll believe anything. Food and beverages is a standard description that quite legitimately covers wine and no minister is going to resign over petty semantics. There’s something else going on here.


  28. JB 28

    As I mentioned in the other thread. He’s a sacrifice so the spin machine can churn out “Look how much better JK is than that last corrupt lot”. People are already lapping it up as evidenced by comments here and elsewhere.

    National rode into power on a wave of “anyone but Labour” sentiment, so now they’re cranking up the message for the next election “look, we’re still not Labour!”.

  29. gobsmacked 29

    Heatley’s press conference:

    “The difference here is that I’ve signed a document that is not accurate, and that’s a step too far. It’s just a step too far. It tipped it over the edge for me.'” (emphasis added)

    If that’s the real reason he resigned, he’s not going to be alone.

    But of course it’s not the reason, which is why his press conference lasted just four minutes before he did a runner.

  30. gingercrush 30

    This pointless crap about what Helen Clark did or didn’t do and what John Key has done or hasn’t done is well pathetic. Its politics. You try and do the less damage you can. Where Clark went wrong was that her party was in its third term, they were tiring and she couldn’t lessen the damage that her ministers caused as she could in either her first or second term. She was actually rather good in getting her ministers to resign etc. But once she got into the third term it was rather clear she was trying and clinging onto power and when a minister did stuff up they were too good a minister to actually be rid of them.

  31. DavidW 31

    Now will all the sneerers return the office pens they have in their jacket pockets and beside the home phone. EOM

  32. Draco T Bastard 32

    There’s got to be something else in the background. Something that National don’t want us to know and don’t want us to find out.

  33. Clarke 33

    I see Maurice Williamson has now been promoted to Acting Housing Minister. I guess that’s confirmation that National is out of A team players …. and B team players …. and C team players ….. and …..

  34. Pascal's bookie 34

    I see Maurice Williamson has now been promoted to Acting Housing Minister.

    Go long on tarpaulins, rope, metal pegs.

  35. George.com 35

    An ‘unrelenting focus’ on dismising MPs.

    Heaps of opportunity for career promotion this parliamentary term if you are a Nat backbencher.

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