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Heatley’s redherring cover for Brownlee

Written By: - Date published: 11:45 am, February 27th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: national/act government, parliamentary spending, spin - Tags: , , ,

Fran O’Sullivan agrees with my theory on the real reason for Phil Heatley’s resignation and the reason why an excuse was invented.

The real reason was what amounts to Heatley’s theft of taxpayer money by using his ministerial credit card, and the receipt excuse was invented to protect Gerry Brownlee who had also misused his credit card:

Heatley’s subsequent statement was blatant spin. He claimed not to be as familiar with the rules as he should have been and had failed to “live up” to his own standards. He went on to say that after closer inspection of his accounts he had found a new error. He had charged the two bottles of wine to his account as food and beverages when there was no food included. He accepted this could be “viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense”.

This is a classic red herring. The real issue all along has been the false claim that the $70 was for dinner for him and his wife while on Ministerial business when it was for booze for a National Party knees-up.

The fact the Prime Minister’s office released the underlying documentation pointed out why Heatley’s resignation would ultimately have become a fait accompli. National’s spinners and some news media have since tried to portray Heatley’s resignation as the act of a man of principle, when all along he has flagrantly flouted the rules.

In my opinion, Heatley has displayed a classic sense of entitlement. This was obvious earlier on when he fell foul of public opinion by taking a ministerial house in Wellington and renting his own apartment to a fellow MP.

Key could not afford to keep him on in Cabinet. But by allowing this affair to play out over several days, the Prime Minister succeeded in putting clear water between Heatley and fellow Cabinet Minister Gerry Brownlee, who also shouted his electorate staff lunch on his credit card.

Brownlee has not serially abused his card the way Heatley has. But if Key had sacked Heatley on Monday it would have been difficult to fend off questions over why he was protecting Brownlee. That this hasn’t occurred suggests the spin has largely succeeded – until now.

Exactly, Fran. Heatley went for credit card abuse, not some clerical error (that wasn’t even an error). Brownlee did the same and questions need to be asked about why he has got off scot-free.

Now if only we knew someone who was in a position to put those kind of questions to the PM and Brownlee. Do you know anyone like that, Fran? A senior member of the press gallery, perhaps?

20 comments on “Heatley’s redherring cover for Brownlee ”

  1. randal 1

    so did gerry brownlie really spend $25,000 on pies, hot dogs and coke?

  2. greenfly 2

    Brownlee! Brownlee! Brownlee!

    (You’ll not shuck that Blob of Cob. It’d be like raising the Titanic!))

  3. Watermelon 3

    Seems we can now also sum it up as (if we play along with the spin):

    Key’s “High Standards for Ministers” = EPIC FAIL as Heatley left on his “own” volition.

  4. first time caller 4

    It is simply ridiculous to suggest that Heatley would resign to protect Brownlee. The whole idea that Heatley would take a pay cut of that size and the humiliation that goes with it to help out a workmate is simply preposterous!

    • Well, they are a pretty ridiculous Government, caller. Clearly someone had to go and who better than Cheatley? Brownlee has been around too long to go gracefully, he knows where the bodies are buried and could be a major headache for Key on the backbenches. So Phil yer boots does the decent thing, and will be back on the ministerial benches after a period of political rehab.

      As for the money, while clearly he is greed personified, I understand he has more than enough private income to soften the blow.

    • QoT 4.2

      It is simply ridiculous to suggest that this post is about “Heatley [resigning] to protect Brownlee”. The whole idea that anyone could seriously take that as the central message of the post with any purpose other than trolling is simply preposterous!

  5. Ianmac 5

    Won’t Heatly’s demise increase Brownlies vunerabilty?

    • Rex Widerstrom 5.1

      That was my reaction too, Ianmac.

      Heatley has now set a standard (ignoring for the moment the argument as to whether it was genuine or spin) to which others will be compared.

      It leaves Key open to being incessantly asked “If it’s good enough for Heatley, why not Brownlee”. To which Key can only reply, somewhat weakly, “I didn’t sack Heatley, he went of his own accord”.

      If they were going to try and bluff on Brownlee’s position, leaving Heatley in place would seem to make more sense.

  6. Doug 6

    So is Shane Jones running a red herring for Labour?

    [lprent: A better question is if you are you trolling or thread-jacking? If you want to raise a different topic do it in OpenMike – that is what it is for. ]

  7. Janice 7

    Perhaps Heatley has been offered the job of Electoral Commissioner when that legislation has been passed during urgency.

  8. Anne 8

    My first thought on reading Fran’s article this morning was… good grief, she’s been reading Marty G! Congrats Marty. You were first up with the nitty gritty.

  9. first time caller 9

    QoT, actually the title of the post would suggest the theme of this thread.

    FYI I’m not trolling. I was reading with interest, but felt compelled to suggest the concept of a politician volunteering to take the fall for another politician just doesn’t sit well with me regardless of political spectrum.

    • Marty G 9.1

      Yeah, it would be but that’s not what Fran and I are suggesting.

      Heatley was going to have to go over the theft of taxpayer money via the credit cards. Problem is Brownlee is guilty of that too. So, a different reason for Heatley to resign had to be concocted.

      • Lanthanide 9.1.1

        Didn’t Rodney and Bill English essentially do the same thing? All they did was pay the money back.

    • QoT 9.2

      … Yes, the title of this post certainly would suggest that Heatley is offering a red herring which is a cover for Brownlee. i.e. exactly what multiple people have explained, that his explanation for his resignation is a red herring which covers Brownlee against being asked why he himself hasn’t resigned.

      It’s all well and good to say you’re reading with interest, but when your comment seems to either wilfully misinterpret the post, or rebut a [red herring?] strawman argument which no one has made … yeah, I’m going to call that trolling.

  10. felix 10

    Eat all this myself? Nah, nah – it’s for my electorate staff.

  11. 350ppm 11

    Great chance to get rid a good-for-nothing minister before he does any further damage to NZ’s natural environment. Hope the opposition ramps up the pressure on Brownlee this week.

  12. 350ppm 12

    Great chance to get rid of a good-for-nothing minister before he does any further damage to NZ’s natural environment. Hope the opposition ramps up the pressure on Brownlee this week.

  13. If Key is so kind and thoughtfull ,(as Textor /Crosby is promoting) )then he should have sacked Brownlee when he was found guilty of assaulting an elderly man at a Nat conference. He’s a bully and I have no doubt Heatley resigned to avoid more investigation into the Nats books.
    There is certainly more to be revealed, or why would a Right-Wing reporter like F.O’Sullivan comment on this sleazy episode?

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