Pansy Wong resigns
UPDATE: 11.46am: The byelection will be held on March 5
Embattled MP Pansy Wong has resigned from Parliament, which will spark a by-election in her Botany seat, in east Auckland.
“I’ve not taken this decision lightly but I feel this is the right time for me to step down,” she told reporters at a press conference this morning.
Ms Wong said that the allegations directed against her over past weeks – which she rejects – have become a distraction for the government and placed undue pressure on her family and friends.
Her electorate, Botany, deserved an MP able to fully focus on the electorate’s needs, she said.
Ms Wong’s resignation is effective from January 17 2011 but she will not receive any salary or personal entitlements from December 20.
“I have timed my resignation to ensure the by-election will not affect the holiday break of the Botany constituents and I have also taken into account the work agenda of the National-led government,” Ms Wong said.
She hoped to deliver her farewell speech in Parliament this afternoon.
Misuse of funds
Mrs Wong resigned from the cabinet last month amid allegations of misuse of taxpayer funds.
Her husband was involved in a business deal while they were in China on a taxpayer-subsidised trip and Labour said there were more such trips.
An inquiry ordered by Speaker Lockwood Smith looked at her travel claims for the last 10 years and concluded there had been no other instances of the parliamentary rebate being used for business, which is against rules.
It also said Mr Wong did not have any business interests in China, other than a hovercraft joint venture.
Labour has questioned the thoroughness of the inquiry by Hugh McPhail, calling for Prime Minister John Key to refer the case to Auditor-General Lyn Provost.
Labour leader Phil Goff said his party had more revelations, which would be made in Parliament today.
It was also putting information up on a new website, pansyfacts.co.nz, which also listed a number of questions Labour said the McPhail report had not addressed adequately.