Compare and Contrast over $70 wine

In February 2010 Phil Heatley resigned over two bottle of wine valued at $70.

Key explained the inconsistency in Heatley’s expenses documents.

“It came to my attention yesterday that the documentation used to support Mr Heatley’s expenses claim for $70 in Christchurch last year was incorrect,” Key says.

The expenses claim said the spending was listed as ‘Minister and Spouse: dinner’.

But the credit card receipt showed the card was used for two bottles of wine for his and his wife’s table at the National Party Conference.

“I have asked Mr Heatley to explain the inconsistency and he has indicated to me that this was an unintentional error on his part, and he had not sought to mislead Ministerial Services in the characterisation of his claim.

“However, he feels that he has not lived up to the high standards required of a minister and has resigned his portfolios.”

Phil Heatley was later re-instated once an investigation showed there was no intent in his actions. Contrast that with Five Fingers Feeley attitude for the same value of wine:

“I would struggle to think that any reasonable person would consider a $70 bottle of wine an outlandish recognition … I doubt that any reasonable person would take issue with the use to which the drink was put.”

No remorse, shows intent. Unrepentant. All for the same amount of money.

This isn’t about the value this is about the head of an organisation responsible for maintaining and enforcing high ethical standards in business and government, getting a five finger discount on a bottle of wine and thinking there is nothing at all wrong with that. Phil Heatley knew the difference, he resigned and showed  a refreshing amount of integrity.

What is astounding is the fact that Bill English, who has no responsibility for either the SFO or the State Services Commission sees fit to wade into the debate and pass judgment on what is an employment matter. If I was Labour I’d be loading up a whole heap of questions to Collins and Ryall about the meddling in their portfolios by Bill English.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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