Eight NZ politicians who were forced to resign

By Marilynn McLachlan

Maurice Williamson and David Garrett. Photos / Stuart Munro/Ross Setford
Maurice Williamson and David Garrett. Photos / Stuart Munro/Ross Setford

National Party Minister Maurice Williamson was forced to resign from his ministerial duties this morning following Herald revelations that he had made a phone call to police regarding a criminal case against Chinese businessman Donghua Liu.

He is one of many high-profile politicians who have made career blunders or have been accused of doing so, resulting in forced resignations or sackings.

1. Aaron Gilmore - 2013

The National list MP was forced to resign last year after allegations that he verbally abused a waiter at a Hamner Springs hotel for refusing to serve his dinner party more wine.


Photo / Mark Mitchell

He was put under further pressure a few days later when it was revealed that he had been warned about sending inappropriate emails while working at a government department.

He showed his remorse when he announced his decision, saying "finally, I want to apologise once again to all those people who I've let down with my behaviour. I'm determined to learn from those lessons as I continue my life with more grace and humility."

Prime Minister John Key agreed that it was the right decision for Gilmore to make.

2. Nick Smith - 2012

National MP Dr Nick Smith resigned from his Cabinet portfolios in an emotional statement to the media in March 2012. He was under immense pressure to resign following revelations that he had intervened in his friend and National Party activist Bronwyn Pullar's ACC claim while he had been the ACC Minister. Dr Smith had used his ministerial letterhead to advance Pullar's ACC claims.

"I'm disappointed I'm not going to be able to continue my work in some of those areas I have a passion," he said. "But I apologise to all my fellow representatives for those misjudgments."

3. Darren Hughes - 2011


Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour MP Darren Hughes resigned two days after it was revealed he was subject to a complaint - believed to be of a sexual nature - from an 18-year old student.

Then Labour leader Phil Goff announced Hughes' resignation, saying that the "controversy around the allegations made against him had made it impossible to carry out his duties."

Hughes said that he had "enormous respect for the institution of Parliament" and was not prepared to see his party "distracted in the lead up to a critical election."

4. Phil Heatley - 2010

National MP Phil Heatley resigned his Housing and Fisheries portfolios after it was made public that he had misused his Ministerial credit card.

There were claims he had used money for two bottles of wine after already been warned in 2009 for claiming $1,000 a week in accommodation expenses after moving into a larger home when he became minister, while renting out his apartment.

"I have absolutely no desire to become the focus of a distraction for this Government, which has much to do to grow the economy, invest in jobs and help Kiwis get ahead," he said in his statement to the media.

5. Pansy Wong - 2010


Photo / Marty Melville

National Party Minister Pansy Wong stepped down from her role as a Cabinet minister after it was revealed that her husband could have conducted private business while on a taxpayer-subsidised overseas trip to China in 2008. A month later, Wong resigned as MP for Botany, saying that the furore had made her reflect on her future and how much her family had paid because of her political pursuits.

"I want to ensure the National-led Government can progress its agenda without unnecessary distractions," she announced at a media conference in Wellington.

6. David Garrett - 2010

Act Party MP David Garrett was forced to resign from his role after he was charged with forging a document using details from a two-year-old boy's headstone in 1984. Using the details, he allegedly obtained the boy's birth certificate and filled in a passport application form, photographing himself in disguise.

He was arrested 21 years later, but he denied the allegations and was discharged without conviction when it went to court.

"I can do nothing to change the past. For any number of reasons, I wish I had not done such a stupid and dreadfully hurtful thing in 1984," he said in a media statement.

7. Richard Worth - 2009

National Party list MP, Dr Richard Worth entered Parliament as the MP for Epsom in 1999. His career was fraught with drama.

In 2002 he skipped a Maori Battalion service to make a visit to Cairo to see the pyramids and take a camel ride while on an official trip. In 2009 there were reports of a private trip to India promoting aviation training in New Zealand, while having an interest in an academy. Later in the year there were allegations he visited a taxi driver who had allegedly been attacked by a group - one of whom was the son of an acquaintance. The following month there was a serious sexual allegation from an Auckland business woman.

He resigned as a Cabinet Minister and a few weeks later as a list MP.

"I went into politics to make a contribution to New Zealand. I can see that it is no longer possible for me to do that through politics, so I am now choosing to follow another positive path," his said in his resignation statement.

8. David Benson-Pope - 2007

Labour Party minister David Benson-Pope regretfully resigned as a Cabinet Minister and his Environment and Social Development roles in 2007 after saying that he had lost credibility.

Benson-Pope came under fire for his role in the removal of Madeleine Setchell from her job as Environment Ministry communications manager. Setchell lost her job because her partner was the chief press secretary to National Party leader John Key, and Benson-Pope denied any involvement and knowledge of the sacking.

Then-Prime Minister Helen Clark said that his conduct had fallen short of the standards required of a Minister and his statements had impacted on his credibility.

"I am not prepared to allow a sideshow to be prolonged, which detracts from the issues we face as a nation," he said.

- nzherald.co.nz

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