AUCKLAND, NZ—Shane Jones, the beleaguered former minister of New Zealand’s Labour Party who’s had to eat crow for the past few weeks following revelations that he spent taxpayer money watching porn in hotel rooms in 2007-08, has been dumped from the front bench.
“Labour leader Phil Goff has now stripped Mr. Jones of his opposition portfolios and he has been relegated to the back bench,” reported ABC News. “Mr. Jones was tipped to be a potential frontrunner for the Labour leadership.”
Jones was one of three Labour politicians demoted for misusing government-issued credit cards for personal use. Chris Carter and Mita Ririnui were the two others; all three were expected to appear before a caucus meeting tomorrow, where they will face their colleagues for the first time since the credit card statements were released.
Thus far, Jones is the only one accused of using his card to purchase pornography, but the former president of the National Party, Michelle Boag, says Jones is probably not alone in that particular pursuit, which she thought paled beside other’s indiscretions.
"In my view what Shane Jones has done is nowhere near as bad as what Mita Ririnui has done," she said on TV One's Q&A program. "So he (Jones) watched a few porn moves. Well so what—I'll bet he's not the only MP or minister who's done that."
According to the National Business Review, “Ririnui bought a bike and a set of golf clubs on his ministerial card, and has said he didn't have his personal card with him at the time.” Boag said she does not believe the excuse.
All of the demoted ministers have paid back whatever funds were inappropriately put on the cards, but the act of using the cards for personal expenses alone was enough to justify the demotions, said former Labour Party president Mike Williams.
"It's not a good look for either party and they're all doing it," he said. "It seems to be widely accepted that you could spend and then pay it back."