Outgoing National MP Claudette Hauiti admits using her
parliamentary charge card to buy petrol for her personal car
in a further breach of the rules on card use.
But she says she doesn't know how much in total she had to
refund because she repaid small amounts repeatedly over the
year in which she had spent outside the rules.
Ms Hauiti announced this week she would step down from
Parliament, days after revelations she used the charge card
for personal spending, including a $200 fee related to
flights to Australia.
Last night, she told the Herald she regretted what had
happened but had nobody to blame but herself because she had
not known the rules and should have.
She confirmed she had also used the card for petrol for her
own car and rental cars. She did not know exactly how much
was spent and said she had mistakenly believed it was within
the rules because the travel was largely for work purposes.
She surrendered the card earlier this year and the
Parliamentary Service had assured her there was no more to
repay. She said most of the misspending was in her early
months as an MP.
"The refunds were paid over a period of time, so when costs
... were brought to my attention I paid them back. I
genuinely thought they were within scope."
She was seeking more detailed information from the
Parliamentary Service. She also clarified that the $200
relating to Australian flights was a fee to change one, not
for tickets her mother-in-law had paid for to attend a family
Asked if she believed she had paid too high a price for what
had happened, she said she regretted it but was not making
excuses for herself.
"There is no one else at fault here. There are no excuses for
not knowing the rules. And that is the price you pay because
this is the job we are in. Our Prime Minister has always
reinforced transparency and I absolutely agree with that."
Prime Minister John Key said he accepted Ms Hauiti's
assurance to him that she had believed her spending was
within the rules and would repay any that did not meet the
He denied she was not being held to account. "She's made a
mistake but is correcting it and she's paid a pretty heavy
price. She was selected as a candidate and was likely to be
on the list that would see her return to Parliament. Now
MPs get an annual allowance to cover miscellaneous costs
related to their work but are entitled to a payment card to
cover things such as electorate office costs. It cannot be
used for personal expenses.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said the refusal to release
more information was a "cover-up" and National should reveal
how much was misspent.
- By Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald