- Date published:
11:45 am, February 27th, 2010 - 20 comments
Categories: national/act government, parliamentary spending, spin - Tags: fran o'sullivan, gerry brownlee, phil heatley, resignation
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?