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, Stuff.co.nz 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.