Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not an honourable resignation

Phil Heatley seems to be attracting some favourable support for his resignation this morning, with a number of comments on blogs and elsewhere saying that he did the honourable thing by resigning over what seems to be "trivial" amounts of unlawful Ministerial expenses.

Bullshit. The honourable course of action for a Minister caught charging private expenses such as booze and family holidays to the taxpayer is not to resign - the honourable course of action is not to bloody do it in the first place.

If Heatley was an honourable man, he would have kept his spending within the rules, rather than flagrantly and consistently ignoring them and then claiming ignorance later. If he was an honourable man he would have stopped when first forced to repay money by Ministerial Services, rather than using his Ministerial credit card as a personal slush fund. Heatley did neither of these things. He is therefore not an honourable man. One mistake, I can accept. But this is an intentional pattern of abuse.

We should have neither pity nor mercy for those who abuse the public trust in this fashion. We certainly should not think better of such people for quitting. The fundamental truth behind this is that Heatley only resigned when he was caught. And if the Dominion-Post had not been diligent in OIAing Ministerial expenses, he'd still be buying booze and holidays, and getting us to pay for them.