Former Labour Minister Shane Jones has admitted using his ministerial credit card to pay for pornographic movies while staying in hotels.
Today he delivered a mea culpa to reporters at a press conference in Wellington:
It's a day of great shame. Not only have I embarrassed myself, my family, my party colleagues, et cetera, but I got into a pattern of expenditure which is inexcusable. Although I paid the dough back in 2008, to the best of my knowledge the reality is ... it's beyond excuse and it's a day of humiliation for me.
What I did is that during the time that I was staying in hotels around the country from time to time, I definitely watched blue movies. Although I paid them back, it should never have gone on my ministerial credit card. It was personal expenditure and I offer no excuse. It's a day of extreme shame.
On the records which show he watched several films in one day:
I haven't looked at it that closely. I offer no excuses. I absolutely lost the plot. Whether or not it's fatally injured me as a politician, I'll dwell upon that. I'm not immediately thinking about resigning or anything.
I don't make those decisions in the heat of humiliation.
But I've had a severe bollocking from my leader Phil Goff which I thoroughly deserved, a stern talking to from Annette King and I'll front up to my colleagues in caucus and give them an opportunity to tell me what they think. The only way forward really is to identify what opportunities there are to redeem myself. The reality is that I cultivated myself as a robust politician and I've been found wanting and I've gotta cop that.
On what his party leader Phil Goff thinks:
[Phil Goff] is in China and is understandably very cross....we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
On whether he would resign if Labour colleagues asked him to:
Well, we'll just taiaho till Tuesday. They haven't had a chance to hear from me and I haven't had a chance to engage. But look I'm not going to offer any evasive or flimsy defence. I lost the plot. It's a pattern that deeply...look it's a day of shame, for shame.
On whether his is a sacking offence:
Let's just wait until I've had an opportunity to talk with Phil Goff when he returns. I think that, I mean, let's look at this in a slightly even-handed way. Has the money been paid back? Yes. Ought it to have even occurred in the first place? No. I erred, I erred grossly and I have to take responsibility for that.
On whether he thought Phil Goff knew about the spending:
He's away in China. I'm not sure, I don't know. I've not spoken to Phil about the contents of this file of woe. No doubt I'll have a good yak with him when he gets back.
On his earlier statement of not watching porn on the taxpayer:
No, I said I'm not in the habit of watching buff movies. In actual fact I'm not a sex fiend or sex addict, et cetera, but the reality is I watch blue movies. I'm not going to deny it. I'm obviously going to watch BBC more than...
Let's cut to the chase. There's two things: I was far too loose on how I used the card, although I've paid it back at regular intervals. And secondly, it's just an extremely bad look. It's not something that I'm proud of, it's not something that I'd had a historic pattern of. I lost the plot, I'm wrong and I have to take responsibility.
On his wife's reaction:
She found out this morning when I spoke to her. Not surprisingly this has injured her, she's enraged. And I've got a very formidable mother, she won't be happy and the reality is that it damaged my credibility. I don't want to walk away from that and I take responsibility for it.
It was foolish, it was unwise, I lost the plot. Although I paid the money back there's no honour whatsoever in what I ended up being a part of.
What ought to have happened is that when you go to a hotel, you take the ministerial card and there's two things. One, there's a whole range of members of the public, people who claim you as their own, who say 'Hey man, after seven kids, what the hell you wanna watch blue movies for?' And second, they should not have been on that card and although I paid them back I just lost the plot, I just can't - I offer no excuse. It was wrong in deed and very shameful in consequence.
On whether he still watches porn:
No. I've actually been spending a bit more time doing boring stuff, like policy and process. But during that period of time when I was a minister, I was on the road a great deal, and although I was regarded as a very effective minister in the area of building, it was a shocker.
On whether he was contacted by Ministerial Services:
I haven't had a look in any detail at this document, but how we ran the office is that we had someone in the office. They would check things and occasionally say 'you owe money back'. It's not kosher, it wasn't kosher and without a doubt what warnings or reminders were there, I either didn't see them or just ignored them.
Basically I didn't keep a very tight level of control over my paperwork and there's one thing that I'm probably guilty of. I run around more with a machete, et cetera, and I didn't guard my back. And I don't excuse that.
Whether I did it once or 1000 times, there is no excuse for it. I don't recall receiving a verbal warning but there more than likely are written warnings in there. I don't recall actually seeing them but having said that, I know I did wrong. There's no excuse for it and I'm extraordinarily humiliated and deeply apologetic about it. But I can't walk away from it, I need to fess up and it's my fault.
On the message his misuse of the card sends:
I think it says two things. One, although I'm human, I've got to, I suppose, adjust myself and accept that when you are a public figure nothing is private. If I'm guilty of a number of things it's that I've taken for granted quite frankly the level of burden that a public figure has to live up and I've failed egregiously.
I haven't gone through item by item but I'm fairly confident that in the funds I've already paid back - which never should have sat upon this card - that it was comprehensive. But after having a gander at it if there's anything else then I'll do as Phil has said we'll do, pay it back. But I'm confident that what I did in the past was comprehensive enough.
I live in Maunganui, but having that said I did travel a great deal around the country. I had four roles, well, three that really took me out of Wellington. Treaty, a bit of trade, building and construction. But if there's anything else in here that's not kosher, I'll pay it back.
On if he had ever stayed at Maunganui Resort:
No. I'm not sure. We may have had seminars there. I may have overnighted there. It depends what we were doing. The night that I recall, if I'm not mistaken, we might have hosted the Governor General there. Not only was I there as a Northern MP - as I said I haven't looked at all the details - I was probably also there as a minister for the local area. That's one thing I do recall.
Look, I'll have a closer look at it. But to the best of my knowledge it's been comprehensive. If it hasn't, then after it's been forensically dissected and there's further dough to be paid back, I'll pay it back.
On what Helen Clark might have said if she was still PM:
I dare say it would have been a collision like her and JT, I daresay. But I can't comment for what she knew and might have said. Ask Helen that.
You may recall it was to the Herald, I did talk about a number of items and dough that I paid back. We now have a new regime which shows more transparency and I've got to put my hand up. It's a day where I am ashamed of what I got myself into and if there's any further dough to be paid back I'll pay it back.
On the impact on his mana:
Oh it's going to be a shocker of a result amongst a lot of our own people. I think however a lot of people do respect the fact if you fess up, and look, I'm finding it an extraordinarily difficult and excruciating day. But part of this is fessing up to the media via the proxy that's known as the media. And I've obviously got to go back there and repair what damage people perceive has been done.
On his party aspirations:
I think a lot of that speculation and lather of discussion is really driven by others. But I've already said on numerous occasions that none of this reflects well on my judgment, my habits or my status. And if I'm going to recover in that regard I've got to commit myself to far more profitable things in terms of my formal role rather than watching blue movies.
On his people's perception:
They will say that Shane has dug a hole for himself and that hole may very well prove to be his grave. It's up to Shane. The people of Northland have got every right to give me a good kicking. They're disappointed. They find it all quite inexplicable but I've gotta face up to them and apologise for my actions, and show that I'm deeply ashamed and it brings on neither to them, me or my colleagues.
On Labour's credibility:
I think the strength of the Labour Party is it exists beyond one single politician ... there's a lot of strong people, stronger than myself, and the party, I don't think that it's going to represent a fatal wound to the party.
On his family's reaction:
I'd rather taiaho on that and deal with domestic matters when I am in the domestic court. At the moment I'm in the court of public opinion and I'm pleading guilty. Let's not walk away from this. I'm a red-blooded robust dude. I've got a fantastic wife, I've got seven kids, none of them are happy. All feel that this reflects on our family. I've just got to wear that. But families are resilient and my family's a pretty bloody strong institution.