It took much too long thinking about it and being advised how to handle it. But sad-sack Chris Carter has said sorry to over-stretched taxpayers for overdoing things with his urge to travel with a companion at their expense.
The gay gallivanter – stripped last week of his foreign affairs job on the Labour front bench – has fessed up to say he travelled “excessively” as a minister and shouldn’t have taken his partner with him as often as he did.
Alas, after spending the past week working in his Te Atatu electorate after his position within the party was thrown into doubt following his demotion, he also told media he would be returning to Parliament next Tuesday
Pity. Alf was hoping the bugger would quit or – if he didn’t – be thrown out of the party for behaving like a prat, although if behaving like a prat was cause for excommunication from Labour Party ranks then a lot of excommunicating would be going on because Labour happens to attract members who are prone to behaving like prats.
The Herald recalls that Carter lost his foreign affairs portfolio and was bumped down the Labour Party pecking order (but not much) for failing to front up and properly apologise over his credit card spending as a minister.
Labour leader Phil Goff says he believes Carter’s apology yesterday was genuine (but Alf is not so sure).
Moreover, Goff will reinstate Carter to the ethnic affairs and conservation portfolios.
This, of course, brings Goff’s judgement and leadership into question and suggests he is a big softy.
“I think that he was feeling, really, the pressure and the stress of last week, that’s only human,” he said.
“I think he has had time to consider, to take advice from friends, to come to the conclusion that his behaviour last week wasn’t acceptable and to make a genuine apology, and I believe he’s done that.”
Goff says no further action will be taken against Carter.
But what has Carter said to put things right?
He said he used to think that he had done nothing wrong, but his time away from Parliament and consultation with friends had changed his mind.
“To be honest, at first I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. I have thought about that, I have been at home, consulted my partner, reflected on it and I concede there is an issue of excessive travel and the amount of times that he travelled.”
He said although Cabinet had signed off on all of his travel while Education and Conservation minister, he should not have put his hand up so often.
“I was a senior minister in that cabinet and I could have been more prudent in the number of trips I went on and more prudent in the amount of times I took my partner.
“Every trip I went on was important. If I didn’t go another minister would have had to do that. But I shouldn’t have been so willing to volunteer so often and I went more often than I should have and I took my partner more often than I should have.”
But here’s the bit that most grabbed Alf’s attention:
He said he had not handled the situation well, including his accusation that he was being targeted because he was gay.
He regretted not taking questions from media last week, and said he could take media lessons from fellow Labour MP Shane Jones, who has consistently fronted media and expressed immediate contrition following of the fallout
Mr Carter said he took advice from colleagues and friends, including Mr Goff, who advised him to apologise.
That’s a damning indictment of Carter’s political skills, eh?
He did not handle the situation well.
He did not observe how well Jones was handling the need to say sorry.
He is too sensitive about being gay.
He had to take advice before he apologised.
But he wants to remain a politician, a job for which he seems ill-suited.
The bugger says he wants to put this issue behind me before he comes back to Parliament on Tuesday.
He also confirmed his intention to stand for Labour in Te Atatu again next year.
Dunno if the good people of Te Atatu will vote for him again, but maybe they will. It’s an electorate up Auckland way, Alf understands, and Aucklanders aren’t as bright as the good people of Eketahuna, where Carter would never have made it into Parliament in the first place.