A politician tipped as a future leader of the New Zealand Labour Party and potential prime minister has put his future in the hands of his colleagues after admitting that he paid for pornographic movies using his official credit card.
Shane Jones, a 50—year—old father of seven, was dubbed “Minister of Porn” and “Minister of Sleaze” in newspaper headlines on Friday after details were revealed of how he used his card as a minister in the former Labour government.
He charged up to 50 blue movies — sometimes two a night — to his card while staying in hotels on ministerial business and used it to pay for chocolates, drinks, magazines and other personal expenses.
Mr. Jones repaid it all before Labour lost power in the 2008 election, but cabinet rules specifically ban the use of ministerial credit cards for personal purchases, even when reimbursed.
Defending his use of pornographic movies as “a red—blooded, robust dude,” Mr. Jones admitted that revelations on what he called his “day of shame” on Thursday had damaged his credibility.
“Whether it’s fatally injured me as a politician, I’ll dwell upon that,” he told reporters. “I don’t make those decisions in the heat of humiliation.” Asked what the public would think of him, he said: “They will say that Shane has dug a hole for himself and that hole may very well prove to be his grave.” Admitting “I lost the plot — I offer no excuses” — Mr. Jones said he would place his future in the hands of his parliamentary colleagues when the Labour caucus meets on Tuesday.
Commentators pointed out that the caucus includes several hardline feminist members of Parliament who were unlikely to be very forgiving.
Mr. Jones is one of several ministers of the former Labour government and the current conservative National Party—led administration revealed to have used their official credit cards for personal spending in violation of Cabinet rules.
Thousands of pages of documents giving details were released to parliamentary journalists following an Official Information Act request.
Guilty ministers include the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser.
Prime Minister John Key said Friday: “It doesn’t reflect very well on the general body politic in Wellington. It’s the sort of thing that can undermine confidence that New Zealanders have in their elected politicians.” Key said he expected his ministers to have “a high level of caution about the way they spend taxpayers’ money.” dpa db ff Author: David Barber 102325 GMT Jun 10