At least one Government minister has been forced to pay back expenses wrongly billed to his taxpayer-funded credit card and others are scrambling to check their spending.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley will repay Ministerial Services today for the $70 cost of two bottles of wine that he bought for National Party members at AMI Stadium in Christchurch last year and billed to his ministerial credit card.
An embarrassed Mr Heatley admitted, after checking with officials following questions raised by The Dominion Post, that he should never have paid for the wine with his ministerial card.
It suggests officials have been rubberstamping ministerial expenses.
The wine purchase was one of hundreds of transactions by ministers revealed by the release of credit card details in response to an Official Information Act request.
Mr Heatley has also run foul of the rules for running up expenses on his card and later reimbursing Ministerial Services – a practice he acknowledged was against the rules, though he was not aware of that till yesterday.
Mr Heatley should know, as a Cabinet Minister that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for falling foul on it. We suspect that he will be getting the call from John Key today, and that he will be told to pull his head in; or should we say that we would be most disappointed if that was NOT the outcome.