7 Dec 2010

Parata to replace Wong in Cabinet

11:52 am on 7 December 2010

National Party list MP Hekia Parata will replace Pansy Wong as a Cabinet Minister.

Mrs Wong resigned from Cabinet after admitting her travel subsidy had been misused by her husband on a business trip to China.

Since then, a Parliamentary Service report found no systematic abuse of her travel rebate, but Prime Minister John Key had already ruled out an immediate return to Cabinet.

Ms Parata will take over Mrs Wong's portfolios of Ethnic Affairs and Women's Affairs, as well as associate Minister for ACC and Energy and Resources.

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She will also pick up a new role of Associate Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Mr Key says Ms Parata's competence and ability were highlighted by the excellent result she achieved in the recent Mana by-election.

She came second to Labour's Kris Faafoi, but substantially reduced Labour's majority.

Ms Parata says it was her ambition when she entered Parliament in 2008 to become a Cabinet Minister.

The Prime Minister says he may well bring Pansy Wong back to the Cabinet if the Government gets a second term and if Mrs Wong performs well over the next 12 months.

Labur may refer travel rebate to AG

The Labour Party says it may yet refer Ms Wong's use of the MPs' international travel rebate to the Auditor General, if the Prime Minister won't do it himself.

The independent report, released on Friday, found the breach was inadvertent, and identified no problems with the other trips.

But Labour leader Phil Goff says taxpayers still need to be reassured that they have not been ripped off.