3 Dec 2010

Wong report a whitewash, says Labour

5:27 pm on 3 December 2010

The report into Pansy Wong's international travel perks is a whitewash and a cover-up, says the Labour Party.

A report has cleared the Botany MP and her husband Sammy Wong of systematic abuse of the international travel perk for MPs.

Ms Wong resigned from Cabinet after admitting her subsidy had been misused when her husband conducted private business during a trip to China.

But the report found the breach was unplanned and inadvertent, and had no problems with the other trips.

However, Labour leader Phil Goff says the report did not ask the hard questions, and the auditor-general should be called in.

Labour has called for Ms Wong to resign as an MP.

The Parliamentary Service report has found no systematic abuse of an international travel rebate. Thirteen overseas trips by the pair dating back to 2000 were investigated. All involved use of the travel subsidy.

The report does not cover any trips she took in her capacity as a cabinet minister.

However, the report concludes that the Wongs should repay the portion of the travel subsidy relating to these activities, which comes to $474.12.

It also looked into the circumstances behind two companies, linked to Mr Wong, being registered to the same address as Ms Wong's electorate office in Manukau.

The report found no breach of the rules because the space in the building leased by Mr Wong for his businesses was separate from the electorate office and not paid for by Parliamentary Services.

Ms Wong says she apologises for any wrongdoing and will repay the money.

She told reporters at Parliament on Friday that resigning from Cabinet was an acknowledgement of her failure to live up to the expected standards.

She says she will gauge the feeling among her Botany constituents before deciding whether to stand at the next election.

Ms Wong says she hopes to return to Cabinet, but accepts she will have to earn such a promotion.