Ministers on both sides fall foul of spending rules
Labour MP Shane Jones is licking his potentially lethal wounds today while many of his colleagues bear the blushes of their own misuse of ministerial credit cards.
Parliament yesterday gave the media thousands of documents covering the use of the cards since 2003, covering most of the previous government's time in office and updating the records of current ministers.
They reveal years of laxity, carelessness and sometimes deliberate use of taxpayer money for personal entertainment and purchases.
The money was paid back but the records reveal the frustration of Ministerial Services as it prodded and pushed ministers into producing their credit card statements and reconciliation statements.
Mr Jones eclipsed everyone else and suffered a series of humiliating media conferences as he fronted up over using his card to pay for porn movies in hotels and numerous personal purchases that were way outside the rules.
"I've swallowed multiple dead rats. I've pummelled and pillaged my own reputation," he said last night.
"But I'm not going to make any rash decisions...it's highly unlikely I'm going to quit."
Next week he will face his caucus colleagues, and some of them may think his time is up.
Labour leader Phil Goff, whose own records reveal nothing worth mentioning, is in China and will be talking to Mr Jones when he gets back next week.
Deputy leader Annette King said yesterday she didn't think Mr Jones should resign, but he had dug himself into a hole and it would take a lot of hard work to get out of it.
She thought some good had come from the painful exercise.
"I think it's now so open and transparent that any future minister who uses their credit card for their personal use would be very, very silly indeed."
Another serial offender is former Labour Party junior minister Mita Ririnui, who used his card to buy a bike costing nearly $900 and golf clubs worth more than $600.
He said he quickly paid the money back and had used his card because it was the only one he had on him at the time.
The government wasn't exempt and Trade Minister Tim Groser was shown up as a big spender on his numerous overseas trips, most of it on expensive meals and drinks.
Prime Minister John Key said he was comfortable with that because Mr Groser had to do a lot of entertaining when he was away.
He said, however, he had "reinforced his expectations" that ministers should be cautious with their spending.
Mr Key, and former prime minister Helen Clark, were both squeaky clean.
By late last night not all the documents had been examined but it was considered the prime culprits had been discovered.