This week's release of thousands of documents covering the use of ministerial credit cards since 2003 delivered humiliation for some and embarrassment for others.
It also contained an unmistakable message for all parliamentarians.
Raised public expectation and a climate of greater transparency mean any instance of negligent or careless card use, let alone the deliberate misuse of the taxpayer-funded cards for personal entertainment and purchases, is bound to attract hostile attention.
Such scrutiny is, obviously, overdue given some of the ministerial behaviour that has come to light. Equally, it must be recognised that the very functioning of government sometimes requires ministers to dip into the taxpayer pocket.
In this regard, some of the criticism directed at ministers has been well wide of the mark. Take, for example, the fact that Trade Minister Tim Groser paid what, for New Zealanders, represents a lavish restaurant tip while at an Apec summit in South America.
Quite simply, that was the level of gratuity expected in Peru. Equally, the same minister, as part of his official duties, is expected to entertain dignitaries on his many trips overseas.
There should be no surprise that his spending on liquor and food is reasonably substantial.
Likewise, there is nothing out of the norm in Murray McCully spending nearly $2000 of taxpayer money on laundry services.
His role as Foreign Affairs Minister dictates not only that he travels frequently but that he presents a good image when meeting foreign dignitaries.
What the released documents do confirm, however, is that the definition of legitimate spending is far too broad.
Former Labour Government minister Chris Carter spent $300 at a pharmacy buying everything from deodorant to chapstick for a trip to the Solomons, saying it was necessary to keep him and his staff "safe and healthy".
Ministerial Services signed this off as legitimate. The same minister also received the green light for $186 spent in Harrods' luggage department after a staff member's bag broke.
In no way could this spending be considered necessary for Mr Carter to function effectively in his ministerial role. A forthcoming Auditor-General's report should signal the end of such largesse.
Of course, the documents have attracted particular attention because of what they say about individuals' penchants, peccadilloes and practices. We have learned much about the characters of several parliamentarians.
There is Judith Tizard's taste for the best in wine, including a $155 bottle of Bollinger Brut.
And there is Shane Jones' lust for pornography, which led him to watch as many as three pay-per-view blue movies a night in hotel rooms and then charge them to his card.
The revelation will surely lead to the demotion of the former Building and Construction Minister when he faces his Labour caucus colleagues next week.
Labour leader Phil Goff has little option given his strong criticism of Housing Minister Phil Heatley, whose infringements were mild by comparison.
As Mr Jones conceded, he has dug a hole that may well prove to be his grave. It is difficult to see a way back, so deep and enduring will be the taint of the revelations and what they say about him.
In several cases, Ministerial Services has had to prod ministers into producing credit card and reconciliation statements.
Clearly, some parliamentarians had not only an inflated view of entitlement but were happy if they got away with obvious instances of card misuse.
That has sharpened the public antenna and created a perception problem for those ministers whose spending is not only legitimate but necessary.
They must carry on the business of New Zealand, professionally and properly, but be aware that all Kiwis now see.