Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ministerial spending - rolling updates

Journalists must just LOVE days like today - Stuff gives us this teaser:

Former Labour government ministers racked up taxpayer-funded credit card bills for a massage, new clothes, wine, pay-per-view movies, a $600 set of golf clubs and chartering a private plane, understands.

Labour sources admitted yesterday that some MPs would be deeply embarrassed by the release of records from Labour's final five years in office, which show some of them using their ministerial credit cards like personal cheque accounts.

It is understood that many would make personal purchases on their cards and later reimburse taxpayers, in some cases only after Ministerial Services officials had alerted them that the spending fell outside the rules and asked them to pay the money back.

Massages? Golf clubs? "Using their ministerial credit cards like personal cheque accounts"? Roll on 9am ...

UPDATE: 9.15am - From Stuff: "Fairfax reporters are trawling through the receipts and will provide rolling updates on all the highlights as they emerge." We'll roll them out as they emerge.

But already Chris Carter has put his hand up for five breaches of the rules, including flowers for his partner, and hotel movies. He IS GOING TO pay the money back, but unlike Shane Jones, he hasn't yet.

And before the accusations of political hackery are made, we, like kindred blogger Barnsley Bill will condemn unauthorised spending no matter the hue of the spender. As we said yesterday, responsible stewardship of taxpayer funds is a fundamental responsibility of ANY government. It is the least that we can expect.

UPDATE: 10.30am - More from Stuff:

10.15AM: Former Labour Minister Chris Carter records show he spent $607.79 on kitchenware on a 2003 trip to London that was posted back to New Zealand. No explanation of the purchase is given.

10.14AM: Trade Minister Tim Groser charged a total of $230 to the minibar during stays at hotels in Europe and Asia in Feburary last year. On February 21, Mr Groser purchased liquor worth $34 at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, India.

On February 24, there was another $14 for liquor. Then in Bangkok, at the Conrad Hotel, a further $40 was charged against the mini-bar on February 26. These were on top of the total $142 spent at minibars in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

10.05AM: Larger than life Labour MP Parekura Horomia spent $500 on a meal at Grand Century Chinese Restaurant in Wellington in June 2004. The meal was an official dinner, the receipt explains.

Three months later $250 was paid back towards that bill.

The meal was one of three the MP charged to his ministerial credit card that month, making up a combined total of $564.

The following month he also spent $704 on seven "official portfolio dinners".

Right; so now we know; Tim Groser likes a drink, Parekura Horomia likes to eat, and Chris Carter likes his house to look nice - no surprises there!

UPDATE: Midday - Chris Carter is defending his spending on "kitchenware", which has what has been written on the relevant credit card statement. Stuff says:

After details of his kitchenware purchase were posted on Stuff this morning, Mr Carter phoned Fairfax to defend the payment and said the purchase from Politico's of London was in fact for Labour Party posters for his office and Labour party mugs. There had never been any suggestion from Ministerial Services officials that the spending was outside the rules.

Over at Homepaddock, Ele says "I find spending public money on party purchases even worse than spending it on private ones.". We couldn't agree more. There is no way that purchases of political party paraphenalia can be related to Carter's role as a Minister of the Crown. This is one item which we must be assured that Carter has paid for from his pocket, not yours and ours.

UPDATE: 1.20pm - From Stuff:

13.16PM: Labour MP Shane Jones has admitted using his ministerial credit card to book up pornographic movies while he was a government minister and has blamed it on the fact he is a red blooded man.

"I'm a red bloodied adult, it should have happened, it has happened, it doesn't make me feel particularly worthy but I'm not going to hide from it."

Kudos for Jones for finally admitting what had become prtty obvious. However, he is now out of the running as a future Labour Party leader; Labour's feminist wing will make sure of that.


pdm said...

I heard Jones on NewstalkZB with Mike Hosking a while ago.

Glib and slimy sum him up for me - a man with no conscience.

Anton said...

If i did that with my company purchase card I would be disciplined and perhaps fired....wonder if the same rules apply for that lot down there????

Anonymous said...

Those who live by the sword die by the sword. Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone. Jesus Christ died for our sins. Do good in life. Leave the muck racking to those who play in the muck. You are a sad indictment on Christianity INV2. Fire and brimstone await. Ever been to the Congo?

Inventory2 said...

Thanks for your concern Anon. As I recall, Jesus also talked about not judging, in case you got judged yourself, and about taking care of the plank in your eye before worrying about the speck in your brother's eye.

I don't claim to be perfect, and yes, I have been to Africa ...

homepaddock said...

Credit to the media - it was reporters making OIA requests which uncovered all this.

Anon - public scrutiny is an important part of democracy and as Anton said, this could be a sackable offence in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Yes Jesus said a lot of stuff. And for every wise saying there is an opposite one so the whole thing becomes solipsistic. That is why we, as Christians, are frauds. Just ADMIT it. That's all anyone asks. (Just as you ask people via this sewer to be accountable) Why play this game when, if you really believe in our Saviour above, you must in your heart KNOW that you're heading to hell for being a hypocrite?

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of porn eh INV2? God gave us a willy and a mimi didn't he? I know what's in your spare room and on your hard drive.

Bearhunter said...

He's going to have a hell of a time of it in Parliament after this. Cries of "wanker!" and "Keep your hands where can see them" echoing around the chamber. Mind you he's only one among the entire playpen of grasping wankers that we call parliament. Thanks gods the footie kicks off this weekend...