The independent investigation found no systemic abuse of the MPs’ travel rebate by Pansy Wong and her husband Sammy.
Speaker Lockwood Smith said:
“The investigation, conducted for the Parliamentary Service by former senior public servant Hugh McPhail, looked into 13 international trips made by Pansy Wong and her husband together or separately since 2000. It found that one trip, a flight from Beijing to Lianyungang, China in December 2008, could have been in breach of the Speaker’s Directions.
“The report notes that while this trip was unplanned and inadvertent, it could be construed as having been for a private business purpose. It recommends that Pansy Wong and her husband should repay the travel rebate for that trip of $237.06 each.
“Otherwise, the report found no evidence that Pansy and Sammy Wong had not com plied with the Speaker’s Directions regarding private international travel,” Dr Smith said.
The investigation also looked at the use of the electorate office as the registered address for a ocmpany and found no evidence the office was ever used for private business purposes.
What looked like a large bomb has turned in to a small cracker albeit a very costly one for Pansy who said:
“I apologise, and I will refund the level of rebate attributable to the section of the trip, which amounts to $237.06 each for my husband and myself,” Mrs Wong says.
“The experience of the past three weeks is not something that I would want to repeat.
“I am grateful for the support I have received from family, friends, supporters, and colleagues during this difficult period. . .
“While it is my hope to return to Cabinet, I understand that it has to be earned, and my energy and focus now will be used to serve the people of Botany and promoting the interests of ethnic communities across our country. I am looking forward to returning to Parliament.”
This episode was the last straw which showed up the faults in the travel rebate scheme.
MPs should be paid a reasonable a mount for the work they do, there should be an open and transparent process for paying work-related travel costs and private travel costs should be their business paid from their own funds.
UPDATE: Kiwiblog has more which shows the length the Wongs went to to comply with the rules and avoid any conflict of interest.