Free content by Fresh Content.net

Tuesday, February 23

Minister apologises for credit card errors


Housing and Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley today apologised for the unintentional misuse of his Ministerial credit card and vowed to ensure no such mistakes are made in the future.

"I was under the understanding that as a Minister I could claim expenses for attending functions outside Wellington regardless of whether they were a Housing or Fisheries portfolio activity.

"This is clearly not the case and so I have today reimbursed Ministerial Services for three food and beverage charges relating to last year's National Party conference in Christchurch, to the value of $175.30.

"I have also taken stock of a group of charges, which upon reflection I have decided to reimburse.

"In March last year, in my capacity as Minister of Fisheries, I visited Waikawa to speak and attend a regional fisheries conference, and then Kaikoura to experience the Whale Watch operation courtesy of Ngai Tahu. I arranged for my family to join me on this trip so brought my Ministerial self-drive car across on the Interislander ferry.

"At the time I reimbursed, or paid directly, the travel and meal costs for my children. However, on reflection I question my decision to include my family in this trip at all.

"Therefore I am paying all travel, accommodation and meal costs for me and my family for the duration of the South Island visit, which will include $906.80 charged to my credit card.

"I have also reimbursed $31.50, being my share of a business sector lunch at Killer Prawn in Whangarei when hosting my colleague Steven Joyce.

"I want to assure the public that no deliberate attempt was made to claim any items on my Ministerial credit card that weren't in keeping with the rules.

"I fully accept that as I was using a facility charged to the taxpayer it was my responsibility to be clear about them.

"I simply failed to bring myself adequately up to speed with the rules around the card's use.

"I have fallen short of the high standards the Prime Minister expects of his Ministers. I am embarrassed. I apologised to the Prime Minister last night and want to extend that apology to my colleagues and the public."