25 Jun 2010

Carter admits apology made at Goff's request

6:30 pm on 25 June 2010

Labour MP Chris Carter admits his public apology was made at the request of his leader Phil Goff.

Mr Carter held a news conference at Parliament on Friday afternoon to apologise to taxpayers and his Labour Party colleagues for his excessive travel while a minister and his handling of the expenses saga.

Mr Goff sent the Te Atatu MP home from Parliament more than a week ago after Mr Carter refused to front up and answer reporters' questions about expenses and his subsequent demotion within Labour's caucus.

Mr Goff says he is satisfied with the apology.

Mr Carter says Friday's conference was voluntary and his apology sincere, but he admits Mr Goff told him to talk to the media. A number of his colleagues and his partner also asked him to talk to the media.

He says it has taken him some time to realise he needed to apologise to taxpayers for his excessive travel while a minister.

Mr Carter told the media conference he should not have volunteered to travel so often and that he took his partner on too many trips. He acknowledged he should have showed more restraint.

Mr Carter says he regrets not dealing with the matter publicly nearly two weeks ago, when he refused to answer questions about his travel expenditure and credit card expenses.

But Mr Carter says his apology to taxpayers - and the Labour Party for the distraction it has caused - is sincere.

He told reporters his portfolios of education and conservation did have a big international dimension, but his travel was nevertheless excessive.

Mr Carter says every trip he went on was important, though he should have showed more restraint.

He has also conceded that his sexuality had nothing to do with the scrutiny his travel spending came under.

The MP has previously accused the media of challenging his travel expenditure because he is gay, but on Friday he acknowledged he dealt with the whole matter poorly.