Senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard has made a public plea to drop the "lynch mob mentality" and give his "badly hurt" colleague Chris Carter the breathing space to work out what is best for his future.
Mr Carter was sent on indefinite leave on Tuesday and his political future hangs in the balance after his reaction to ministerial credit card spending angered Labour leader Phil Goff.
Mr Goff sent Mr Carter home for failing to acknowledge public concern over his high travel bills or show contrition for misspent funds.
Mr Carter responded in a statement offering an unreserved apology to the public, but has since gone to ground.
Yesterday, writing on Labour's blog Red Alert, Mr Mallard said Mr Carter should be left alone for a while.
"Chris is pretty badly hurt. And he is damaged. That is obvious. He has to decide what he wants to do.
"My appeal is for us to be reasonable, forget the lynch mob mentality, and let him work out what is best for him, for Labour and for New Zealand. And give him space to do that."
He and Mr Carter had never been close, he said, but there was a depth of public feeling about Mr Carter's expenses bill.
Mr Mallard said Mr Carter's sexuality probably made him more of a target. "He is picked on because there is a common view that he has travelled too much. But there is no doubt that lots of people are putting an extra boot into Chris because he is gay."
Mr Goff said yesterday he did not know how long Mr Carter would be on leave. "He travelled too frequently and at too great a cost. I think that ministers have to be conscious of the fact that they are spending the tax dollars of hardworking New Zealanders and they need to be more frugal."
Earlier this week, Mr Mallard wrote on Red Alert that there was an unexpected bonus in moving Mr Carter - who sat next to him in the House - to the second row.
"[Speaker] Lockwood Smith sometimes has trouble distinguishing my voice from Chris Carter's. At least two of my pretty serious discussions with the Speaker have been the result of him thinking I had said something that Chris had in fact said. It is good that that confusion will not continue."
Mr Carter, Shane Jones and Mita Ririnui were demoted this week for misusing their ministerial credit cards.
A TV3 poll of 500 people found some support for Mr Jones. Asked if he should resign for charging pornographic movies to his ministerial credit card, 51 per cent of respondents said he should go while 49 per cent said he should stay in Parliament.