National MP Claudette Hauiti standing down

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 13:19 22/07/2014
Stuff.co.nz

National MP Claudette Hauiti has announced she is leaving politics.

Claudette Hauiti
CLAUDETTE HAUITI: Handed back her charge card.

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National MP Claudette Hauiti is calling time on her short stint in politics, removing herself from contention at the coming election.

It is understood Hauiti reached her decision after Prime Minister John Key phoned her last night. 

It is believed he would have reiterated what others had been telling her, that there was no future for her in National and that she had come to be seen as a liability.

She had been selected at as the party's candidate for Kelston, but told her caucus colleagues of her decision this morning. 

Her decision comes just days after it emerged she surrendered her Parliamentary charge card after using it to pay for a Christmas trip to Australia.

That trip, and other unauthorised spending on the card - known as a purchasing or p-card - led to the list MP returning it to Parliamentary Service in March.

Outside the caucus room, Hauiti confirmed her intention to stand down from politics at the election, but refused to comment further.

Hauiti said in a statement to the NZ Herald it had been a difficult decision and she was announcing it with regret.

"I wish to thank the National Party for the opportunities that been given to me to be part of a stable, effective government that has been good for New Zealand and will, I am sure, continue its good work after the general election on 20 September."

It's understood she was told she would receive a low list ranking, and Kelston was considered to be a safe Labour seat.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow thanked Hauiti for her contribution. 

"Entering Parliament mid-way through a term cannot be easy and I wish her all the best for her future."

Goodfellow said the Party would re-open nominations for the Kelston electorate on July 23, for a truncated period closing July 30.

"I expect a board selection panel, drawing on local electorate input, will meet to make a final decision by early August," he said.

Hauiti had already placed election hoardings up in the electorate at the weekend.

Hauiti entered Parliament last year, replacing disgraced former MP Aaron Gilmore.

She admitted last week that she had used the p-card to pay for flights to Australia, which she said cost about "$200 and something", but could not be more specific.

"I went to Australia. It was travel only and way outside Parliamentary Service guidelines," she said.

Asked if it was a personal trip, she replied: "Totally."

She then added: "Well, no, I went to meet with Maori in Australia who were registered on the Maori roll."

She said she had repaid the cost.

Parliamentary Service refused to comment on the unauthorised spending.

"By mutual agreement the member uses other payment processes," general manager David Stevenson said in a statement. 

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