In case you missed it, the fact a prominent MP's mother is facing benefit fraud charges this week exploded into a ridiculous furore over whether that MP should have been removed from her post as social development spokeswoman.

That MP is Carmel Sepuloni, who has been tipped as Labour leader Andrew Little's likely deputy replacing Annette King at the end of the year.

Ms Sepuloni's mother appeared in court yesterday on 19 charges of benefit fraud dating as far back as 2003.

They included applying for sickness and disability benefits she was not entitled to, applying for rent subsidies and failing to tell welfare officials about her partner.


None of this should reflect on Carmel Sepuloni, whether or not, as she explains, she is not close to her mother.

But there's no way Ms Sepuloni could remain as social development spokeswoman while the charges are active.

Strangely, her strongest supporters, not to mention a few disinterested parties, are doing her a disservice, by framing the move as a punishment.

It's clearly not and Mr Little has said she would retain her front bench slot and be reinstated as social development spokeswoman whatever the outcome of her mother's court case.

Presumably those unhappy with Mr Little's decision are unfamiliar with the twin concepts of conflict of interest and potential appearance of conflict of interest.

How on earth could Ms Sepuloni be left in a position to comment on welfare matters when she has a family member facing benefit fraud charges?

Links to the Sabin affair are off the mark as well. Anyone can see the difference in situations.

Maybe, as has been suggested, that was in the back of Andrew Little's mind this week, but either way he made the right call.