Parliament's Wall of Shame #2 | The Jackal

19 May 2011

Parliament's Wall of Shame #2

Pansy Yu Fong Wong
On 12 November 2010 Pansy Wong resigned as a Minister after misusing her parliamentary travel perks for trips to China on which her husband conducted private business activities, which is specifically prohibited. What is clear is that the couple advanced Mr Wong's business interests while travelling together, subsidised by the New Zealand taxpayer to the tune of nearly $55,000. To make matters worse, the Wong’s unlawfully registered two private companies to Ms Wong's Botany Downs electorate office.

At the time, Mr Key said he saw no reason why Mrs Wong should resign as an MP.

"Nothing I have heard in terms of the allegations would drive me to believe that she shouldn't be a member of the caucus."

Pansy Wong became silent on the matter at John Key's request. When Trevor Mallard questioned Mr Key further on the matter of the Wong's inappropriate use of perks, John Key advocated for and defended his spokesperson Kevin Taylor, who had called Pete Hodgson a fuck-wit!  Pete Hodgson had been questioning the legitimacy of Pansy Wong’s business affairs when verbally accosted by Mr Taylor. Mr Key was relieved that Kevin had only resorted to verbal abuse and did not use violence. Clearly Mr Key thought that this was an option to resolve the accusations.
Ms Wong admitted she misused her taxpayer funded travel subsidy by paying for her husband Sammy Wong's travel to China in late 2008 while he was conducting personal business. Pansy and Sammy Wong’s company Sampan was an agent for Massey, AUT and Lincoln, and the couple would often travel to China to promote this business. It was also revealed that a company called PPD engaged Sammy Wong in March 2005 to facilitate meetings with a Chinese business CNR, whose subsidiary Dalian Locomotives subsequently won a contract to supply 20 train locomotives to KiwiRail. There are also questions concerning the huge amounts of money raised by the Wong's for the National Party which have gone unanswered.

A report (PDF) was generated which found no impropriety, although it cynically only looked at the couples flights from before Pansy Wong was a minister and before Sammy Wong had business interests in China, and as such has been largely referred to as a white wash. Clearly the lack of a proper investigation is the reason the Wong's have not been formally charged.

John Henry Tamihere

John Tamihere was convicted for three drink driving and other offences between 1978 and 1995. He recently made the excuse that "There are over 700,000 New Zealanders who have been convicted of drink driving." Mr Tamihere followed the reprehensible example of Piggy Muldoon and enthusiastically embraced Parliament's drinking culture with gusto. Drunkenness was probably the reason Tamihere abandoned two cats in May 2005. He was formally cautioned by the New Zealand SPCA.

On 15 October 2004, John Tamihere requested leave from his ministerial portfolios after accusations of dishonest financial dealings. The accusations against Tamihere included: accepting a "golden handshake" from the Waipareira Trust after stating that he would not take one and failing to pay tax on this payment. On 22 October, the Waipareira Trust accepted that it, not Tamihere, had the responsibility for tax on any payment. However this is not legally correct. Other allegations relating to the financial management of the Trust persisted.

It was also revealed that the Waipareira Trust had written off $100,000, which was allegedly a mortgage to MP John Tamihere and another $800,000 was allegedly written off for money owed on a commercial joint venture of the Trust. On 3 November Tamihere resigned from his Ministerial portfolios, citing as untenable the retention of his responsibilities during on-going investigations. On 21 December, an official investigation cleared Tamihere of the tax charges, and on 14 March 2005, the Serious Fraud Office cleared him of the charges relating to his stewardship of the Waipareira Trust.

During the fiasco, Tamihere made a number of derogatory remarks against Helen Clark as well as other Labour Ministers. Steve Maharey was called "smarmy" and lacking in substance, and Michael Cullen was depicted as cunning and manipulative. The party's homosexual MPs were also criticised. Tamihere was reported as being highly critical of women leaders, saying that they achieved their position through preferential treatment. He also stated that he was "sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed" in the Holocaust. The minimum answer to that is an estimated total of over 2.586 million.

Helen Clark indicated that she saw no chance of Tamihere being elected to Cabinet again. The revelation of these comments also ended talk of a potential move to the National Party where his demeanour would be more suited. Despite his obvious alcoholism, Tamaere tried to develop a huge detox centre for the Waipareira Trust. He has now found his calling and currently hosts a talkback show on Radio Live with co-host Willie Jackson.

David Benson-Pope
In May 2005 Benson-Pope stood down from cabinet after allegations that he had physically abused students while teaching at Bayfield High School in the 1980s. The allegations included charges he stuffed a tennis-ball in a student's mouth and taped his hands to a desk, threw tennis balls at students' heads, caned a student until he bled and smacked a student in the face with the back of his hand on a school camp, making his nose bleed. He also forced students to stand outside for lengthy periods in their nightwear during a school camp and entered the female dormitory and showers in 1997 while 14-year-old girls were undressed.

Parents complained about these and other incidents and the school headmaster at the time says he discussed the complaints with Benson-Pope. Benson-Pope issued a public statement on 28 February 2006 saying that although a discussion had taken place, he had not seen a written complaint until the day before. He apologised in Parliament to his former students, while maintaining he had done nothing inappropriate. 

When the Speaker Margaret Wilson decided that the privileges committee had no case to address, Benson-Pope regained all his former portfolios apart from Associate Minister of Education. Clearly Parliament needed a Minister who could dish out perverted corporal punishment. 

In November 2005 the media reported that no prosecution would take place, despite police finding there was a prima facie case that he had assaulted students. In July 2007 Benson-Pope ran into further political trouble when it emerged that a political advisor in his office - the Labour Party's Trade Union Affiliate Vice-President Steve Hurring had made phone calls, which led to the sacking of the Ministry for the Environment's newly appointed Communications Manager. The issue revolved around her relationship with the chief press secretary to National's parliamentary leader John Key, despite the fact that she had "made a disclosure of her personal connections" during the appointment-process. (Under New Zealand's State Sector Act, ministers and their staff may not become involved in employment matters within their ministries, with the law placing on CEOs of ministries a "duty to act independently of Ministers in matters relating to decisions on individual employees"). 

After a week of intense pressure focusing not only on the allegation that his staff had acted improperly, but also that he himself had misled Parliament, Benson-Pope offered his resignation from Cabinet at noon on Friday 27 July 2007. 

The Prime Minister Helen Clark accepted the resignation, saying: "The way in which certain issues have been handled this week has led to a loss of credibility and on that basis I have accepted Mr Benson-Pope's offer to stand aside".  

Ruth Dyson
Only a week after Ruth Dyson called Norm Hewitt irresponsible for playing rugby with a broken arm, she was charged with drunk driving. Ms Dyson's breath alcohol reading was almost twice the legal limit. Ironically, Dyson was associate minister of health, accident insurance, and social services and employment when she decided to get behind the wheel pissed. She also held the disabilities issues portfolio. Dyson resigned in Oct 2000 but regained most of her ministerial responsibilities on June 4 2001.

There are also some reports that Ruth Dyson (then Minister of Womens Affairs) called Katherine Rich a stupid tart. The Jackal whole-heartedly agrees with this sentiment. Katherine Rich is a stupid tart!