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I don’t buy it for one second

Written By: - Date published: 11:51 am, February 25th, 2010 - 111 comments
Categories: inoculation - Tags: ,

Stuff is reporting Heatley’s resignation has come because two bottles of wine were accidentally listed as food and beverage rather than simply beverage.

I don’t buy that. Not at all.

The idea that a minister would resign (or be pushed) for so little is absurd. In fact it’s not just absurd, it sets a threshold many of National’s ministers would struggle to meet (I’m looking at you Gerry).

Add to that the fact John Key dropped everything to rush back to Wellington (which was likely to cost the taxpayer far more than an average bottle of wine) and the whole thing starts to look very fishy.

Either this is an attempt to cauterise the issue before bigger much more concerning spending issues come out or Key is hoping that by losing a disposable minister like Heatley he will gain some PR credibility for his “steel” and “decisiveness” and the media will stop looking at other ministers who are slightly less disposable.

Whichever way you look at it, there’s more to this story than we’re being told.

111 comments on “I don’t buy it for one second ”

  1. I dreamed a dream 1

    That’s what I thought too. I eagerly await further juicy revelations. With Key being such a cult figure in New Zealand blindly loved by so many, one way to change the government is for wheels to fall off regularly.

    • the sprout 1.1

      this is looking really dodgy

    • Mr Magoo 1.2

      The only thing I could think of was that Queen song: another one bites the dust.

      and another one down and another one down…

      Its a cliche I know, but it does fit.

      Let the official information act request-off begin!!

  2. J Mex 2

    [Week’s ban for ascribing an opinion to “The Standard” rather than individual authors.]

    • IrishBill 2.1

      Yeah and yesterday McCully wasn’t resigning over $31 of shares. Come to think of it Eddie wasn’t calling for him to resign. In fact when I think about it more the post you’re referring to didn’t say that $31 was a lot at all but was pointing out it was a fair story to run on when nobody knew the actual amount of shares. There’s also the small matter that Eddie and I have different opinions on a lot of issues.

      Given that fact I feel I should warn you that commenting off topic and claiming a standard author said something they didn’t will get you banned for a week if you keep it up.

      [Eddie: Beat you to it.]

    • SHG 2.2

      Shouldn’t the parent article lead off with “COLIN ESPINER and MARTIN KAY are reporting…”?

  3. JB 3

    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!’.

  4. Bill 4

    So we know the bevvy wasn’t food and was wine. But just to be scurrilous we might ask who was the bevy and what did she cost him?

    • gitmo 4.1

      Oh dear going down the smear track ……….. shall we start accusing him of being a closet whoopsy as well ?

      • Tigger 4.1.1

        Actually it is just a posit is about why he is resigning over a seemingly small issue. No smear.

        Not sure what a closet whoopsy is…or why it would be a smear…

        • Steve

          Depending on the size of the closet relative to the whoopsy there could very well have been a smear!

  5. the sprout 5

    Smells like something a bit ‘Worthy’ to me.
    No way a guy loses his ministerial warrants for the alledged reasons. No way.

  6. This is not a sacking or a resignation offence. There must be more to it. I can hear the thud thud thud of OIA requests hitting the desk of Ministerial Services as we speak.

    • gitmo 6.1

      [Deleted – language. Consider this a warning.]

      “The former minister has also submitted his accounts to Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry, which would be made public.”

      But yes go ahead with your OIAs it’s not as if they have anything else to do.

      [gitmo – I warned you in another thread but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, you may not have seen it. Stop this childish language or you’ll go in to moderation. Huh – I see another moderator beat me to it– r0b]

      • the sprout 6.1.1

        Have you assumed the position yet Gitmo?
        Get ready, it’s coming!

      • mickysavage 6.1.2

        If you are correct and if there is nothing else to it then we live in very strange times when Ministerial Careers are sacrificed for public relations purposes.

        But why not. This current bunch are prepared to sacrifice ACC, Heanth, our childrens education and the country’s future for PR purposes so why not a few ministers?

  7. Why not Sprout? transgression not big enough for your lot? What is a transgression big enough to get you pink slipped? Assault, theft, fraud, taking bribes, selling policy, immigration scams?
    Come on, tell us what sort of behaviour would be enough to justify firing someone?

    • Don’t ask Sprout, ask Richard Worth. Oh, wait, we’re not allowed to know what Worth did, are we?

      • the sprout 7.1.1

        My reasoning is based on the fact that Key has failed to lift a finger for MUCH MUCH worse, so why the high standards now for a comrapatively minor transgression?

        Assuming Mr Key is a consistent leader, it just doesn’t add up, ergo parts of the puzzle are still missing.

    • Lanthanide 7.2

      Rodney and Blinglish both transgressed a lot more than a bottle of wine, and didn’t “resign”. Therefore it is very inconsistent for someone in this present government to “resign” over something as small as this, when bigger transgressions were merely apologised for.

    • Asking questions in the house about a company you have shares in would do it I think.

      But you would have to ask Mr Sloppy about that?

  8. gobsmacked 8

    John Key’s statement, just now:

    “I have no reason at this stage to believe that Mr Heatley has been dishonest.”

    When the PM is so underwhelming in his support (at this stage??), that tells you it’s not about the dictionary definition of beverage.

    Key’s press conference at 12.30, on TV One, plus usual websites (TV3 etc).

  9. “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!’.”

    If the election were within 6 weeks away i’d be inclined to agree, but so far out ? people won’t even remember this…what’s his name again ?

  10. Rich 10

    It’s always a tradeoff for the PM as to the point at which they ditch a scandal-hit minister. Too late, and they look like they were condoning the behaviour. Too early, and they set the ministry up as easy scalps for any media beatup, like having their driver park 5 minutes late on a meter.

    Unless Heatley has done something bad we don’t know about, then I think Key has strongly erred on the “too early” side. I’d reckon they’re all fair game now and we could lose quite a few ministers between now and the election.

  11. Chris 11

    Tis weird indeed. I can’t really understand it. Resigning over something small as two bottles of wine charged under Food and Beverages?? What gives – wine isn’t a beverage? When did it become something else?

    There’s more to this than meets the eye…

    • Strathen 11.1

      My impression from the coverage is it’s not because it’s a bottle(s) of wine, but the circumstances under which he purchased it. The rules state the circumstances for expenditure have to be for ministerial purposes, the situation of these are not. They come under personal or electorate which cannot be paid for by a ministerial credit card.

      My impression for the rest of it is not that Key has asked or put pressure on the minister to resign, but he has done it under his own steam. IMO the speculation that Key put pressure on him is purely that, speculation from those with their own agendas. Perhaps this minister does have personal standards that he adheres too. Perhaps it’s such a foreign concept for us to believe that any minister, irrelevant of party, has any morals and just plays politics because we accept that as the norm. I’d prefer to see more of this type of thing, but then we’d not have any front bencher’s at all.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        I agree with your reading of the situation. I don’t think Key pressured him to leave at all. If he did, it’s likely he would have called off his trip to CHCH yesterday and had an organised press conference at 10am this morning. Instead we get a scramble back to Wellington to accept the resignation, because that’s what protocol calls for in these situations.

        Lots of people on the Stuff comments thread are praising Key for standing up and ‘sacking’ him, so I suspect that National probably won’t be too keen to clarify exactly what has happened. Or DPF will, but the general public who don’t read kiwiblog won’t find out about what really happened, and go on thinking Key is tough on his ministers.

  12. BLiP 12

    Hmmm . . . very fishy indeed.

    What else should be in the headlines – how about National Ltdâ„¢ corrupting the parliamentary process to force through changes to what was – until a day ago – the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation And Compensation Act but its now the Accident Compensation Act (or something similar) which lays the ground for doing away with prevention and rehabilitation altogether. The raises in the levies eliminates any likely benefit anyone earning less than $40K – that’s about 70 percent of us – will get from any compensation for the raise in GST.

    What other nonsense is going on National Ltdâ„¢ are seeking to distract the media chooks from following up?

  13. I dont know how the whole tendering your resignation thing works, so is it possible Phil “yer boots” Cheatley…heh, never thought Key would actually accept his resignation if, at the pressing of his senior colleagues, he put it forward as the honourable thing to do ?

    this Phil fella doesnt seem like vintage wine, more like a cheap plonker so i wonder how much them bottles cost ?

  14. Bright Red 14

    listening to the press conference on r2.co.nz Key’s all over the show. It’s very very strange.

    Labour doesn’t have a ‘do you have confidence in all your ministers’ question for the PM today. useless. they had time, the story broke at 10:30.

  15. gobsmacked 15

    Oh give me strength … Classic Key:

    “Mr Key said he had not asked Mr Heatley to stand down, but did not ask him to stay on either.” (Herald)

    Look at me, I’m SO tough … er, if that’s OK by you.

    (Key went on to say that although today could be Thursday, he was willing to have a look at other options, day-wise, going forward.)

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      He tendered his resignation, and I was all like whatevs do what ya want. Nothing to do with me. I’ll just be washing me hands again.

  16. tsmithfield 16

    According to Leighton Smith this morning he has a parliamentary source who tells him that Heatley was being encouraged by his party not to take the course of action he has. If that is the case, then maybe the truth is that Heatley has set himself very high standards and is willing to step down on the basis of his own standards rather than anyone else. Very similar to the previous PM who willingly resigned when she was caught in a minor art forgery.

    • Bright Red 16.1

      Key says he didn’t want Heatley to resign…. s not such high standards from Key, eh?

    • Lanthanide 16.2

      And Blinglish and Rodney when they were caught troughing tens of thousands of dollars from the public last year.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.3

      Leighton Smith’s anonymous parliamentary source reckons that you say?

      Well that clears everything up.

  17. randal 17

    anti-spam; misunderstand?
    I am not a resident of the beltway so at this stage of the game whatever hamburger heatley is up to is beyond my purview but when the government suspends question time for a dubious run of the mill bill then the motives and the ability of this government must be brought into question.

  18. Righto, coz I’m a cynical bastard, I’m going to make the following suggestion: two bottles of wine suggests two people drinking. The tears earlier on suggest an emotional reaction way beyond the gravity of the apparent offence. Two bottles + excess emotion = a Tiger Woods style cover up.

    Who drank the other bottle?

    • Lanthanide 18.1

      From the latest edition of the stuff article (kind of annoying that it changes so fast):

      ” Mr Key said there would be an investigation into Mr Heatley’s expenses after it was discovered documentation used to support Mr Heatley’s expenses claim for food and beverage at a Christchurch restaurant was incorrect.

      The expenses claim characterised the spending as “minister and spouse: dinner.”

      The actual credit card receipt was noted by him as Minister and Spouse for food and beverage. “

      • Lanthanide 18.1.1

        From a different(!) stuff article, probably no scandal after all:

        The expenses claim characterised the spending as “minister and spouse: dinner.”

        The actual credit card receipt was noted by him as Minister and Spouse for food and beverage.

        “The credit card was used for two bottles of wine for his and his wife’s table at the National Party conference. I have asked Mr Heatley to explain the inconsistency and he has indicated to me that this was an unintentional error on his part and he had not sought to mislead Ministerial Services in the characterisation of his claim.

    • pollywog 18.2

      heh…on a totally unrelated side note, do hookers accept credit cards ?

      • copycat (was poxywog) 18.2.1

        heh … on a totally unrelated side note, do pollywogs troll kiwiblog under three different names ?

        • BLiP

          Would that make the nick “proxywog”


          • felix

            Only if gitmo were as smart as you. So no.

            And yes of course hookers accept credit cards. What century do you live in, pw?

            • pollywog

              “What century do you live in, pw?”

              the 22nd…credit cards dont exist, everyone is chipped out and as a trade off for public life as a politician you are tracked and monitored on everything, for every second of every day for everyone to see 🙂

        • pollywog

          Umm no…i’ve practically given up on KKKiwiblog but curiously, which 3 names have been biting my style so’s i can bum rush the show and pop a few cybercaps in some virtual asses ?

          I’m the real deal cuz and i dont take too kindly to cheap knock offs !

  19. gobsmacked 19

    Update from Key’s press conference:

    Heatley offered to resign last night, Key didn’t accept, told him to sleep on it.

    Sounds more and more like Key really didn’t want the precedent set, because he knows he’ll lose more Ministers.

  20. big bruv 20

    This is laughable, it seems that the left is so corrupt that it is impossible for you lot to believe that anybody could be sacked for doing exactly what he said he did.

    Did Heatley drink and drive?
    Did Heatley stuff Tennis balls into students mouths?
    Did Heatley take money from Owen Glenn then deny it?
    Did Heatley commit a crime as a minister that the PM defended as “nothing more than trying to help people”

    I know this will come as a shock to you people but just because your morals are in the gutter it does not mean that everybody else’s are there as well.

    At least Key did not use his position as PM to cover this up like a certain other PM did time after time.

    • winston smith 20.1

      amen, bruv

    • Mac1 20.2

      BB, what did Worth do that we have Key tight-lipped about, on the subject of PM cover ups?

    • pollywog 20.3

      Still bangin that left right out from history class drum ?

      Let me break it down for you my bruvver. No one gives a shit about what Helen did or didnt do anymore. It was ages ago already… get over it. I’m sure Key has !!!

      Only thing laughable is you comparing the current inept PM to a historical figure who may as well be Napoleon for all i care.

    • Cnr Joe 20.4

      you what? in the short time this arrangement have been power we’ve had Mr Worth the reputed rutting goat, Ms Lee the whatever, Lord Blinglish of DoubleDipton and his personal re-shuffle (still in Wellington primarily is he?), Master Brownlee the standing orders lying down after a fully staffed lunch on credit and chips…..
      And the national standards are so high Mr Key. Spare portfolios? Perhaps young Max will take them.

  21. winston smith 21

    ironic how the left can’t recognise ministerial integrity when it hits you in the face.

    What did Helen Clark do when she knowingly put her signature to someone else’s art? Denial, denial, denial…

    Be interesting to apply the same tape-measure to some of Parekura and Shane’s claim, or to Phil’s domestic travel expenses

    • This is not integrity, this is plain stupid. Unless there is more to it.

      No doubt Heatley’s closets are currently being checked for skeletons of any shape or size.

    • Lanthanide 21.2

      What did Bill English do when found to be rorting the public for $48,000? Denial denial denial. He paid it back in the end anyway, because it “looked bad”, but not because he wasn’t entitled to it.

      • Armchair Critic 21.2.1

        And winston smith seems to have a bit of difficulty understanding the difference between doing something for personal gain and doing something a bit more abstract like supporting a charity.

        • winston smith

          forgery is forgery, no matter how you spell it

          • The Voice of Reason

            It’s not forgery anyway, Winnie. Many artists, Michaelango and Warhol amongst them, have signed work done by their proteges. In fact, Warhol industrialised the process, hence the ‘Factory’ name he gave to his studio. Forgery is knocking off someone else’s work, including the signature, for personal gain. That’s not what Clark did at all. But it does sound a lot like what Heatley has done.

            • IrishBill

              New Zealand’s most commercially successful artist, Billy Apple, has made a career out of it.

          • Armchair Critic

            Forgery is done for personal gain – how hard is that to understand?

            • Strathen

              No it’s not.



              No mention of personal gain in either definition.

              TBH, I don’t care about HC’s painting whatever, however, redefining words is not ok in my books.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Tell you what, instead of debating the absolute meaning of the word, why don’t you find an instance of forgery that wasn’t done for personal gain?

              • Armchair Critic

                I don’t care about paintings, and I agree about not redefining words, but I’m not in the mood for pedantry, Strathen.
                My dictionary (a Concise Oxford) refers to fraud and deceit under the entry for forgery. Looking at fraud and deceit, it says they are done for personal gain.
                Your links say nothing directly about the motives for forgery (i.e. they don’t prove your point), but they do refer to deceit, which includes the motive of personal gain.
                Like Draco said, show me a forgery that was done for altruistic reasons.

    • IrishBill 21.3

      How about applying it to English’s housing rort, McCully’s shares (or Key’s shares) or to Brownlee’s credit card spending?

    • lprent 21.4

      Ummm you have a very strange memory.

      When asked she answered. There was no ‘denial’. The only thing happened after that was that the police investigated a complaint and Joan brought the damn picture and burnt it.

      Now prove your statement with a link to a news report. If you can’t, then the next time you say something you cannot prove to at least reasonable doubt then I’ll ban you. That should help make you more aware of bullshitting…

      Adding you to moderation so I can point you back to this comment

      • winston smith 21.4.1


        note the words “there was prima facie evidence that Helen Clark had committed forgery.”

        Interesting poll result at the bottom of the article as well – my how times have changed.

        [lprent: Nope – you said that she had denied that she’d signed the painting. That is not what the article says. I feel a one week ban coming up. ]

  22. BLiP 22

    Idle, gratuitous and salacious speculation on my part, but:

    The expenses claim characterised the spending as “minister and spouse: dinner.”

    What is the definition of “spouse”? If its not the same as is normally the case, might explain the weepy-eyed mea maxima culpa over reaction.

    • Lanthanide 22.1

      Reposted from above:

      From a different(!) stuff article, probably no scandal after all:

      The expenses claim characterised the spending as “minister and spouse: dinner.’

      The actual credit card receipt was noted by him as Minister and Spouse for food and beverage.

      “The credit card was used for two bottles of wine for his and his wife’s table at the National Party conference. I have asked Mr Heatley to explain the inconsistency and he has indicated to me that this was an unintentional error on his part and he had not sought to mislead Ministerial Services in the characterisation of his claim.

  23. bobo 23

    Who would have known about the actual meal claim was 2 bottles of wine apart from Heatly? Has echoes of when Michael Laws resigned over a dodgy signature on some documents years ago.

  24. Zaphod Beeblebrox 24

    If you don’t know, why speculate? Pretty mild stuff though compared to the Double Dipton Wellington housing allowance rort.

  25. gobsmacked 25

    Friendly advice for the Nat-spinners: check out what your guy is saying before you jump in.

    John Key? Leadership?


    hahahahahaha …

  26. Armchair Critic 26

    It looks like a distraction. It also looks like it has worked, spectacularly.
    The government and its lackeys seem to be using distraction a lot, of late. The “Anonymous smears” post on KB was a classic distraction, as is this resignation, and JK has his ongoing “which way is the wind blowing today” method of appealing to the heart, rather than the substances of the issues facing the country. His secret plan to save the whales and the insubstantial soundbites about harsher punishment for cop beaters and animal abusers are classic examples.
    Why talk about:
    the dismantling of ACC, which should be in the news today
    the protest at parliament about the attack on Radio NZ, which should be in the news today
    the usurping of democracy and public assets in Auckland, which r0b posted on this morning and should be news today. Same for Canterbury and ECan
    the incompetence of the education minister, which should be in the news
    the plan to raise GST etc.
    when we can talk about poor old Phil Heatley and how he didn’t really need to resign over a bit of wine, and what a resolute leader that lovely John Key is.
    Expensive strategy that can’t work long term for National, but effective for the moment.

  27. bobo 27

    Gives the term “National Standards” new meaning that Keys are apparently lower than Mr Heatleys in this regard..

  28. grumpy 28

    seventy bucks!!!???? is that all? Look at how a real government does it.


  29. Wateva 30

    Interesting I wonder why sue bradford resigned maybe she had something disgusting to hide

    • Tigger 30.1

      Attempt to throw suspicion fail.

    • big bruv 30.2

      She did as far as I am aware.

      Bradford was involved in the Greens housing allowance rort, I suspect she resigned in shame before the press released any further damaging information.

      Naturally the story died once the people of NZ received the fantastic news that she was going to be leaving the house.

    • Outofbed 30.3

      attempt at being fuckwit? passed

    • Must … divert … attention

      Must … divert … attention

  30. greenfly 31


  31. Craig Glen Eden 32

    So the Minister who resigns in disgrace was the top story on the Granny Herald for a couple of hours before it is topped by girl who helps cop in line for bravery reward story.The next story will be Bank’s loyal dog picks up paper for him at 4 am every morning, how amazing!

    If this was a Labour cabinet minister it would be up for days but not when its one of their mates aye.

  32. Irascible 33

    Poor Cheatley, The resignation is suspicious unless he has a higher PR idea behind it – like painting himself as being honorable while preparing to knife Johnkey in the back. Is this the first whiff of a palace coup in the making??
    Not that I place much trust in Cheatley’s intellectual or honorable prowess.

  33. I guess that David Parker set the standard. He resigned because he did not file an annual return with the Companies Office when he actually did!

    He must be catholic.

    His return to cabinet was welcome and he continues to be a great performer.

    Heatley on the other hand will not be missed …

  34. winnie 35

    thank goodness for name suppression lol

  35. SPC 36

    You are involved in the housing expenses claim “rort”, you charge taxpayers for a holiday, you charge Ministerial services for wine and then declare this falsely – and you want to be seen as someone having standards. So you have a couple of weeks off.

    Your colleagues try to persuade you otherwise, possibly concerned at setting a lower theshold than they were comfortable with – but if it works to restore your reputation so you can make a fresh start in the job, stuff ‘m.

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