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Ministerial expenses revealed: The evidence so far

As political reporters trawl through thousands of documents detailing the use of ministerial credit cards from 2003, the evidence so far uncovered included:• Labour's Shane Jones eclipsed all others, using his credit card to watch porn movies in hote

Thu, 10 Jun 2010

As political reporters trawl through thousands of documents detailing the use of ministerial credit cards from 2003, the evidence so far uncovered included:

• Labour's Shane Jones eclipsed all others, using his credit card to watch porn movies in hotels and treating it almost as a personal account.

With his political career seriously damaged, and possibly terminal, the MP admitted he "lost the plot" but denied being a sex fiend.

"The reality is I watched blue movies, I'm not going to deny it," he told reporters.

"I've dug a hole for myself and it could well prove to be my grave."

Mr Jones has paid the money back but it may be too late to make a difference.

• Former Labour Party minister Chris Carter was repeatedly warned about appropriate use of his credit card but was still caught out misusing it. He paid for movies and a spa in hotels, repaid some money and says he will reimburse any other wrongful spending that is discovered.

• Jetsetting Trade Minister Tim Groser gave his card a good workout on his many overseas trips, most of it going on dinners and drinks. Mr Groser's office said he did not think the use of the minibar to be frequent, given the amount of time spent overseas – about 200 days a year

• Labour's former junior minister Mita Ririnui was a serial misuser of his credit card. His statements are littered with reimbursements, the most impressive being $899 spent at Rocket Bikes in Tauranga and $682 for golf clubs he bought while he was in Australia. The money was repaid.

Some of the restaurant meals he charged to his card were refunded, while dozens of others are justified as having been with unidentified Treaty of Waitangi claimants.

In December 2006 he repaid $283 for "personal expenditure" listed as a golf umbrella from Mitre 10, four meals at restaurants in Taupo and $166 spent at Regency Tax and Duty Free in Auckland.

• Former Labour minister Rick Barker charged for 16 beers during a two-person meal on his ministerial credit card, later reimbursing some of the cost. He lost some of his receipts and in October 2006 two movies costing about $45 were charged to a staff member's credit card in the United States.

• Prime minister, past and present, came through unscathed. Nearly all of former prime minister Helen Clark's accounts involved overseas trips and she didn't spend anything on herself.

Meals were modest, although the legendary communicator racked up some impressive hotel phone bills.

Prime Minister John Key is just as careful with his credit card. No misuse of it, and the records show he favours All Black jerseys as gifts when he goes overseas.

• Foreign Minister Murray McCully kept his clothes clean, spending nearly $2000 on laundry services during his many overseas trips. He managed to wipe a $US100 ($NZ148) laundry bill from a New York hotel after it lost two of his shirts.

• Labour leader Phil Goff, foreign minister in the previous government, was a careful credit card user during his overseas trips. On one of them a staff member charged a hotel movie to a credit card.

The only questionable entry in volumes of Mr Goff's statements was a domestic air fare of $245 in April 2003 which is marked "personal travel reimbursed by minister." The reimbursement took some time -- he paid it with a personal cheque in August that year.

• Labour's former Maori affairs minister Parekura Horomia hosted many iwi groups and leaders and receipts suggest he favoured Asian food and dining in Wellington's Grand Century and Green Parrot restaurants.

His statements are punctuated with notes from Ministerial Services asking for receipts and more information about his spending.

• Former associate arts and culture minister Judith Tizard also liked dining out in fashionable restuarants. Fine wines were a feature of her credit card spending and in 2004 she drew a $A1000 cash advance while she was in Australia. The rules say cash advances are to be used in emergencies. Ms Tizard's appears to go on meals and taxis.

• New Zealand First leader and former foreign minister Winston Peters reimursed various charges, including for purchases in London's Harrods store and the House of Leather in Kuala Lumpur.

He told NZPA he never used his ministerial card and those held by his accompanying staff "could have been used". The statements show that in Estonia with two staff members they were charged almost $230 because a bed cover was burnt with a cigarette.

• Maori Party co-leader and Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples reimbursed $342.50 in April last year, apparently for meals in Wellington, and $190 from a $570 hotel bill in Whangarei in January this year.

Thu, 10 Jun 2010
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Ministerial expenses revealed: The evidence so far