There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy: For Everything Else, There’s Ministerial Credit Card



Question: When is a minister not responsible for expenditures using her ministerial credit card that breach Parliament’s rules?

Answer: When there’s a conveniently positioned employee ready to take the fall and shoulder the blame.

Now while it’s entirely possible that Bennett keeps such an incredibly lax eye on the way the taxpayer-funded resources she’s responsible for are used that an employee was able to draw out an illicit 1.2 grand unnoticed by any but the bean-counters … I find this a little unlikely.

As Minister for State Services, if Bennett can’t even keep abreast of her own small demesne of Ministerial Services, it speaks woefully of her competency. Given the official narrative is now coalescing around the idea that the scape-goat employee in question drew out the money to fund personal spending, the fact this person is still working in her office is quite frankly incredible – assuming that explanation is true, rather than a ministerial dodge.

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I noted with some interest that when asked directly whether the withdrawal had been carried out by an errant employee to fund personal expenditure, Bennett was evasive.

Well if it had been an appropriate ministerial spend they would not have had to repay it, so you can put two and two together” is not exactly a direct answer, and in reality clarifies virtually nothing. I also cannot help but note that Bennett has scrupulously avoided clarifying that the expenditure was either unknown to her or not tacitly approved by her in any of the coverage of this matter I’ve read thus far.

In a previous age, John Key championed extensive transparency with the use of ministerial credit cards, claiming that “the result of this public scrutiny will be that ministers will be even more careful with expenditure of their staff’s credit cards in the future“.

He even suggested that the “untidy and careless” oversight of then-Housing Minister Phil Heatly when it came to the latter’s own ministerial credit card warranted the minister’s stand down from his portfolio.

Funny that he’s not demanding that sort of accountability now. Is this because she’s the closest thing National has to a future prospect for leadership now that has Judith Collins become spilled milk?

If Bennett’s ministerial credit card had been used to illicitly take more than a grand of taxpayer money while she was Minister of Social Development, I’d have pointed out that a beneficiary helping themselves to a similar amount of taxpayer coin would very likely have found themselves in court if not prison. As it is, if the people of New Zealand are to have confidence that the Minister for State Services is capable of exercising oversight over said services … we need to see some tangible evidence that she’s capable of fronting up, accepting responsibility for resources and employees under her control, and delivering accountability where appropriate.

The buck, after all, stops with the Minister. No matter who takes it out of the ATM.


  1. When she was sinister in charge of MSD, their expenses shot up. The CEO didn’t even know about some of their expenditure. If he didn’t know, how could Poorla. I think she’s just a scapegoat and has never been viewed as a serious leadership prospect. She is eager and willing to do their dirty work for them. Personally, I think credit where credit is due here – the natz regime has managed to get a Maori Woman to implement the cruellest injustices against Maori and Women. Well done.

  2. Isn’t your leader one Winston Peters?

    The same Peters who claims he didn’t know anything about Owen Glens 100,000 donation.

    The same Peters who received money from the Vela Brothers.

    Dined often at Simunovich fisheries during the ‘scampi’ inquiry.

    Received and denied knowing about thousands of dollars donated by Bob Jones.

    And the same party who unlawfully spent 158,000 worth of money at the 2005 election.

    And that’s just a few examples of the many.

    I’d look closer to home if I were you for examples of financial scandals my friend.

    • I’m pretty sure Curwen has no responsibility for something Winston did/didn’t do 10 years ago. Focus on the substantive issue.

      • No but the fact remains that is the track record of the leader of the party he chose to join and chose to represent.

        For him to criticize Bennett for doing something so minor and inconsequential in comparison to what his leader has done, it boils down to pure hypocrisy.

        • Minor and inconsequential my eye! we are talking of large amount of taxpayer money just lifted without cause or explanation . Seems like its “your turn to have a bonus to share with your friends” type of situation, but with no consequences for the person in charge.its theft pure and simple and I believe it happens much more than we realise.

    • I fail to see how this makes anything Paula Bennet has achieved/failed to achieve any less deplorable. ‘Tu Quoque’ is not a relevant argument.

    • So if Winston did a dirty deed that makes it ok for National to do dirty deeds, typical of national fans passing the buck and blaming someone else, just like their rock star leader.
      Paula Bennet is another ambitious mp trying to catch the eye of PM, it seems JK has a nack of getting his Mps to follow his lead in hiding things and making lower orders to carry the can .
      Nz has never had such a corrupt self serving government as this National party.
      This credit card discrepancy needs full investigation, National gets away with this type of secret deal to often .

  3. Ministers are corrupt and addicted to sloughing around into the public purse they have become so accustomed to using.

    They are public purse junkies and we should rein them in together as we did years ago when the media attacked them in several occasions over inappropriate holiday trips with families and other extravagant displays of past robbery of the public taxpayers funds.

    Most people don’t trust Politicians any more as they are arrogant selfish individuals today.

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