Back last year when National was being stung over Bill ‘Double Dipton’ English and other ministers rorting the accommodation allowance and misuse of ministerial credit cards, National thought they would get a bite back at Labour by releasing the credit card records for Labour’s terms in office too. All in the interests of fairness, of course (mysteriously they didn’t think the credit card records of retread ministers from when they were in government in the 90s were needed for fairness…). Apparently, it cost a bomb to get DIA officials to go through nine years of records, yet National has been sitting on the results for a couple of months.
Word around the traps is they’re going to drop it later today.
It seems like odd timing to me. Usually, dropping something on the day before a long weekend is what you do when you want to bury it – like Judith Collins releasing the data on rising crime on her watch on the Thursday before Easter. But you would think that in 9 years of credit records there’s got to be something National can make a song and dance about.
So, the counter theory is that the Nats have something they think is juicy and are hoping to dominate the weekend news cycles into next week and the recess. This could be their chance to regain some momentum after a horror few weeks, hell, a horror half year.
It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve come up with. The worry is that the media will just report ‘wow, big numbers’, whereas even John Key has been saying that the issue is whether any particular spending was legitimate, within the rules, not the quantity itself. We’ve all got an interest in those in power sticking to the rules but just attacking spending when there’s no suggestion of impropriety undermines trust in government. And no-one thinks minor misdemeanors like Phil Heatley’s wine thing are a big deal as long as a the offender pays it back (that’s why suspicion remains that there was something else behind the Heatley resignation).
I’m betting there are a few ex-ministers feeling pretty nervous, and some National spin doctors crossing their fingers hoping to shift the media’s attention off the government.