10 Jun 2010

Shane Jones faces uncertain future over spending revelations

6:25 pm on 10 June 2010

The political future of Labour MP Shane Jones is uncertain after he admitted using taxpayers' money to pay for pornographic movies at hotels while a government minister.

But he is not the only Labour MP in the gun, following the release on Thursday of seven years worth of ministerial credit card spending. Others billed golf clubs, a bicycle and spas to the taxpayer before paying the money back.

Eight boxes of documents detailing ministerial credit card spending from April 2003 to February 2010 were released to journalists at Parliament on Thursday morning.

Mr Jones, a former Labour Minister, says today is his day of shame, even though he repaid $4600 of personal spending on his ministerial credit card - including the movies, CDs, lollies and magazines - back in 2008.

Labour leader Phil Goff is currently in China but deputy leader Annette King says Mr Jones has let himself, and taxpayers, down.

Mr Jones says it is too early to make any decisions about his future but acknowledged the revelations will hurt him politically.

He says the issue will also undermine his mana within Maoridom.

Ms King says Mr Jones has a lot of work to do to rebuild his reputation.

Mr Jones, who has admitted he's been a chump, originally told Morning Report that he watched pay per view movies at motels and hotels, but could not recall whether they were pornographic.

He later told Nine to Noon he was fronting up, saying there's no justification for the way he used his credit card.

Other spenders

Former Associate Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Mita Ririnui, also repaid more than $2000 of personal spending over the years - including on golf clubs and a bike.

Former Conservation Minister Chris Carter - previously under fire for his high travel expenses - says having gone through his credit card receipts he's identified inappropriate spending of $252.16. He says he will repay the money, describing the spending as "a bit dodgy".

The spending covered various personal expenses, including flowers for his partner and a hotel movie, which he notes was not pornographic.

Other questionable spending includes various minibar purchases by multiple ministers - with current Trade Minister Tim Groser purchasing a range of alcohol as well as spring water at one hotel.

The data comes on top of earlier revelations about mis-spending by current ministers, Gerry Brownlee and Phil Heatley.

Mr Heatley resigned after buying two bottles of wine at a National Party conference on his ministerial card, only to be reinstated after an Auditor General report.

Key calls for decision from Goff

Prime Minister John Key says Mr Goff needs to decide if any action is needed over the action of his MPs.

Mr Key says Mr Goff was very critical of spending by National ministers earlier in the year and now has to answer for his own party.

Mr Key says his Government has tighter procedures than the last one, and he thinks his ministers have been more conservative spenders.

He says he is confident their credit card spending is appropriate, but he can't rule out the possibility mistakes have been made.

Jones may still have 'future'

Annette King says while Mr Jones has been damaged by the revelations, he can still be rehabilitated.

Ms King says the MP's spending was unacceptable, and clearly outside the rules.

She says he's embarrassed himself and his fellow Labour MPs, and will now have to work hard to restore his reputation.

Ms King says Mr Jones will front up to his caucus colleagues on Tuesday, and it's up to them whether he'll face any further action.