Former Labour ministers Mita Ririnui and Parekura Horomia were sent 186 reminders and requests between them over their credit card spending, a Weekend Herald investigation has found.
Official figures made public this month show Mr Horomia, MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti, was the most lax of all MPs. Between 2003 and 2008, officials had to send him 94 requests for receipts or reminders of the spending rules.
Close behind, list MP Mr Ririnui received 88 requests between 2004 and 2008, and four letters requesting more details of spending.
A couple of things stand out here. Where was the accountability? Did these guys think that because they were Ministers, they were above being held to account for theur spending? Ministers employ countless staff; surely keeping financial records up to date, and passing information to Ministerial Services in a timely fashion wouldn't be too hard.
The other thing that occurred to us was this; if Minsiterial Services was having regular trouble getting information out of Ministers, surely someone would have dropped a word on high to rattle cages. After all, Helen Clark's Chief of Staff was, from all reports, a cage-rattler par excellence. And it was widely reported that NOTHING escaped Heather Simpson's eagle eyes. So, if Heather Simpson knew that there were problems getting Ministers to comply with the rules, do you think that micro-manager Helen Clark didn't know? In our humble opinion, that's implausible.
So that's another reason to support John Key's intention to make quarterly disclosures on ministerial spending; non-compliant Ministers will be outed quickly, and will not be able to obfuscate again and again and again and again. That has to be a step in the right direction.