PM's spin doctor has colourful - and x-rated - turn of phrase
Labour’s Pete Hodgson is raising hackles with his allegation that Cabinet minister Pansy Wong improperly used her ministerial title to support one of her husband’s business deals.
Radio NZ reported this afternoon that the Prime Minister’s chief press secretary Kevin Taylor had told reporters that Mr Hodgson was a "f...wit".
Mr Hodgson said today that he was entitled to call the government to account and that the insult might reflect tension in the PM’s office.
“We will continue to do this in Opposition, no matter what adjective comes my way,” he said.
“That’s our job and they need to get used to it, because the whole idea of an open democracy is to put a government under continual scrutiny.”
Ms Wong listed her profession as ‘Minister of the NZ government’ when she signed as a witness for a deed of variation on a deal between Chinese-based Lianyungang Supreme Hovercraft and Pacific Hovercraft New Zealand.
Mrs Wong's husband, Sammy Wong, is listed as a director of the Chinese company. The couple were together on a private trip in January when the deed of variation was signed.
Prime Minister John Key has said that Ms Wong had followed Cabinet rules “perfectly correctly and done nothing wrong” by listing her full profession.
But Mr Hodgson said today that Mr Key's interpretation was “simply wrong”.
“I’ve got the transcript, I’ve read the remarks, it’s intended to mislead,” he told reporters.
“Of course you’re supposed to put down your occupation where it says ‘occupation’... you don’t have to put down ‘minister of the NZ government’.”
“The whole idea of the Cabinet manual is to point out that sometimes you are a minister, sometimes you are an MP, and she should have put down MP.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, on behalf of the Prime Minister, told Parliament today that Ms Wong had not acted deliberately to further her husband's interests when she signed the deed.
He said that Mr Hodgson's allegations were "disgraceful" and "just another example of the smear campaign that the nasty Labour party runs".
Mr Taylor, asked by NBR to confirm his reported use of an expletive to describe Mr Hodgson, said that he had northing to say.