Phil Heatley resigned his Cabinet portfolios this morning after finding and error in his expense accounts. His full statement given to reporters follows:
I have called this media conference today to announce my resignation as Housing Minister, Fisheries Minister and a member in John Key's Cabinet.
I contacted the Prime Minister this morning to let him know of my plans and he has accepted my resignation.
Firstly, I want to say that it has been a privilege to serve the people of New Zealand as a Cabinet Minister in this National Government, but I believe that I have failed to live up to my own standards and for that I am embarrassed and immensely sorry.
The decision today comes after I had a closer look at my Ministerial Credit Card expenses covering the past 18 months.
As I explained earlier in the week, I was not as familiar as I should have been with the rules; in fact, I was careless. I have apologised and have undertaken to pay back any money wrongly billed.
However, a closer inspection of my accounts has revealed an error in addition to that already in the public arena. On reconciling my accounts I discovered an expenses claim that sits apart from the rest.
I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.
But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning.
Furthermore, today I have submitted my accounts to the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry, and I expect those results will be made public in due course.
I believe this is the right course of action.
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.
I do intend to remain in Parliament as an advocate for Whangarei, and I want to thank the wonderful people from my electorate who have rung to offer their support.
I also want to thank my wife, Jenny and family for their ongoing support in what have been a tough few days.