Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Deja Vu

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    That doesn't mean MPs are overpaid, though.

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. :) "Overpaid" isn't the right word, but I've little patience for the argument that 'we're entitled to it, because we've taken such a huge paycut to enter politics'. In most cases, I think any halfway competent MP could make a damn sight more (and have a more agreeable lifestyle) elsewhere. But, once more, nobody fraking forced any of them to stand. There are plenty of people who make changes in their lives, and accept that a drop in income is part of the opportunity cost.

    I don't want to see MPs eating grass and sharing a urine-scented doorway with Blanket Man but a little fraking modesty wouldn't hurt.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Where’s the fun in that? Sophistry is Mark’s bag.

    Yeah, but does it matter if he gets there in the end.

    <shrug> Seems to matter him, judging by his response to you. I’d just suggest he cut the robbery-like rhetorical style (not that he’s likely to want advice from me).

    …So to me Nik's question seemed moot.

    My comments were in response to what you actually wrote at the time, not to what you now claim to think or to have meant.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    I don't want to see MPs eating grass and sharing a urine-scented doorway with Blanket Man

    Not all MPs, of course. Just those we don't like :-)

    Yorke of The Atatu • Since Feb 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Scott, so that would be roughly half of them in any given Session? ;)

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3910 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Not all MPs, of course. Just those we don't like :-)

    Hey, I don't dislike Blanket Man that much. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I don't want to see MPs eating grass and sharing a urine-scented doorway with Blanket Man but a little fraking modesty wouldn't hurt.

    Yeah. And not this kind of enforced modesty.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3565 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But Darren Hughes keeps saying the rules changed after the election.

    Labour MPs are also saying Clark kept a watch on the issue, which wouldn't be surprising given that she had two ministers -- Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle -- stood down for an inquiry over Wellington accommodation expenses in 2001.

    And one could argue that Key, whether you like him or not, is smart to ask Ministerial Services to take another look at the rules -- with the caveat that this better be a prelude to meaningful reform, rather than another round of 'I've commissioned a report and fully expect it will be quietly ignored when you feebs aren't looking'.

    But I do hope Darren Hughes isn't trying to set up an 'everyone does it, but they're worse' defense, because it seems to me that the real problem is that there's a lot of *cough* strategic ambiguity deliberately built into the system. And that doesn't just happen unless everyone (or a working majority) is tacitly buying into it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Phil: You know something, as I've said elsewhere: Who gives a shit?

    Well obviously in that tale, Jenny Shipley did.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6208 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Well obviously in that tale, Jenny Shipley did.

    Kyle: Coming back to abolishing provocation, Charles Chauvel is on the record saying that he's pleased that it's been taken up as a government bill which will have Labour's support, and therefore an overwhelming parliamentary majority. Sorry, but I'm giving big ups to Charles and Lianne and agreeing with I/S that getting provocation off the statute books is more important than who gets the credit for it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But I do hope Darren Hughes isn't trying to set up an 'everyone does it, but they're worse' defense, because it seems to me that the real problem is that there's a lot of *cough* strategic ambiguity deliberately built into the system. And that doesn't just happen unless everyone (or a working majority) is tacitly buying into it.

    Or perhaps practices have actually changed somewhat under this government. It might be worth considering that possibility while you're strenuously extrapolating what he said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    Totally Off Topic:

    There's a "Stop the Night Class Cuts" (cuts planed to ACE) march in Wellington today. From 2.15 at Wellington High School, getting to Parliament about 3 pm, if any of the capital readers are interested.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Or perhaps practices have actually changed somewhat under this government. It might be worth considering that possibility while you're strenuously extrapolating what he said.

    That's as I understand it but I think it does need exploration. If it is the case that the rules have been changed then all this calm and reasonable debate about what an MP ought to be paid will be replaced by something altogether different.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2233 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    I'm just a bit perplexed as to where Murray McCully stays when he's he's visiting his Albany electorate, given that his main home is 150km away. Do we put him up in a hotel?

    If the expense disclosures for the first 6 months of this year are correct he hasn't been to Albany this year (unless it's under another budget or he paid/flew himself). It only lists $6000 for Wellington accommodation and $112 for surface travel.

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Or perhaps practices have actually changed somewhat under this government. It might be worth considering that possibility while you're strenuously extrapolating what he said.

    Could be, but it might actually be more useful -- and smarter politics -- if Labour articulated a serious proposal for reform. Meanwhile, if the rules are so loose that their application can dramatically change from government to government (or are basically non-existent where Ministers are concerned), then I'd respectfully suggest that more attention should be paid to the disease rather than the symptom.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    Paul Holmes was a godsend to me, I was struggling to do homework at the time, having taken an interest in evening TV. But that was always a guaranteed half hour in which study seemed like less work than trying to get my head into Holme's space.

    His worst crime, in my eyes, was that he got all the good interviews, all the best subjects, and he muffed them so horribly, asking such lame, pointless questions, or even worse, using it as a grandstand to tell us what he thought. I think Winston Peters owes most of his career to Paul Holmes because he was so easily able to dominate him. I shudder to think what Muldoon would have got away with.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Gordon Campbell has a good column on the expenses issue, including this:

    Undoubtedly, the highlight of the Prime Minister’s brief press conference yesterday was this classic exchange between Key and the Dom-Post’s Vernon Small.

    Small: When you said he [English] changed the trust arrangement [ with regard to his family home] after the election, and that was the thing that qualified him for the Ministerial Services allowance, and yet he didn’t do it to qualify for the allowance, it was just a co-incidence?

    Key: That’s my understanding.

    Just a happy accident then.

    And:

    During the whole of 2008, English got around $24,000 a year as a taxpayer top-up for his housing costs. At a time when hundreds of ordinary New Zealanders are losing their jobs each week – the amount he now pockets from the taxpayer for living in the same house has virtually doubled over the past 12 months, even as his annual salary has also virtually doubled. You may be wondering if the income of his spouse – who is a GP – is treated as relevant to his eligibility for assistance from the state. No, it doesn’t – such factors seem to apply only to the unemployed.

    I've tried to be resolute in not moaning about the fair cost of representative democracy, but this case really stretches my tolerance.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Some more:

    Meanwhile, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has admitted his family trust receives taxpayer funds from a Wellington property he lets to another MP.

    Dr Mapp collects more than $700 per week towards his accomodation, at the same time as his trust received almost $10,000 in rental income.

    The Labour Party has welcomed the review and wants to have some involvement in it.

    Chief whip Darren Hughes told Morning Report the rules appear to have changed since the election.

    Mr Hughes says out-of-town MPs are allowed to claim up to $24,000 per year for Wellington accommodation, but it now seems ministers can claim a lot more than that if they stay in their own homes.

    He said the review is needed to ensure the system is fair to ministers and taxpayers.

    So the taxpayer covers Mapp's rent and his mortgage. Slick!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I've tried to be resolute in not moaning about the fair cost of representative democracy, but this case really stretches my tolerance.

    But if a mega-dose of good old-fashioned embarrassment leads to meaningful reform (which I'm just cynical enough not to count as a done deal), at least some good will come out of your elevated blood pressure.

    Chief whip Darren Hughes told Morning Report the rules appear to have changed since the election.

    Mr Hughes says out-of-town MPs are allowed to claim up to $24,000 per year for Wellington accommodation, but it now seems ministers can claim a lot more than that if they stay in their own homes.

    I really hope I seriously misheard the item on the news, but it seems that the rules for Ministers aren't so much lax as non-existent and have been for a long time.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Kong,

    I remember one primo case of where the independent youth benefit worked pretty well. A friend of a girlfriend when I was a kid was both brilliant, and a Jehovah's Witness. She excelled academically and aimed to go to med school. This was despite the huge hours she was required to spend by the family going door to door every night seeking converts. But eventually her parents informed her that at 16 she would be getting married, and there was no chance at all she'd be going to University. At that point she made it clear to them that she didn't really believe in the doctrines of their Church. She was kicked out of the house immediately, and told never to come back. She was given, quite literally, nothing but the clothes she wore, and cut off from all access to her family. The rest of the family were Witnesses and locked ranks. She stayed with us for a while, because she had nowhere else to go. Fortunately she was able to get a benefit (I don't know if it was called the same thing back then), and was able to slowly build a life of her own.

    I'm happy to say she got into med school, and is now practicing her specialization. I wouldn't go as far as saying that government support made it all possible - mostly it was her own hard work - but it sure did help (as did the kindness of friends). It avoided the complete squandering of a talent that a family would have been most happy to have let rot, homemaking in some arranged marriage.

    Since Jul 2009 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I've tried to be resolute in not moaning about the fair cost of representative democracy, but this case really stretches my tolerance.

    I really can't see how it can or should be tolerated. It looks to me like simple greed if not outright theft.

    Is there any way we can compare say, Bill English's actual accommodation costs against what he, to the benefit of his handy little trust, is claiming?

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 319 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Meanwhile, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has admitted his family trust receives taxpayer funds from a Wellington property he lets to another MP.

    The disappointing thing about the news that has come out about English, Mapp, etc, is that there clearly is a system for getting as much as possible out of the taxpayer, and as soon as they took their seats they all adopted the system to the maximum, with no thought for the morality of it at all.

    This sentence from radionz makes it look like they all stand in a circle, and everyone moves one house to the left. They then get income from the MP is renting their house, in order to claim back from the taxpayer the cost of renting the house of the MP next to them.

    Clearly these people have no shame, and I'd suspect a few Labour ministers were no better.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6208 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Audrey Young:

    Phil Goff did his best to suggest that the rules under National have changed and that Labour minister cost the taxpayer a lot less than the current lot, which is, of course not true.

    The annual leases of Labour ministers' taxpayer funded ministerial homes last year has just been released and are totally comparable to the present ones.

    Earlier in the column, she lashes English and Key for deploying emotional spin, when no one has ever actually suggested that his family should be broken up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    It's a kick in the puku.

    MP's get paid so much that you'd think that the job came with no other perks. Once you add in the VIP treatment they expect for the rest of their lives it's worth about $500k a year. And you can retire after 6 years or something and get free air travel for you and your spouse for the rest of your lives. Yay! Raise the amount of GST immediately and cut all benefits to BLUDGERS. Make it impossible to afford to live here for average wage earners. Keep kids in school until they're 24 to lower the unemployment figures. I'm so glad you all voted National! It was terrible being looked after by Labour - they were like nannies compared to Action Man John and his best buddy Bill. Puke!

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 277 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Audrey Young

    Righteous bitch-slapping all round. Now Goff and Key can claw back some credibility by retracting the pointing fingers, serving fuckupachinos to their caucuses and hammering out a serious and credible reform package. Please -- you folks broke it, now you can get real about fixing it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm so glad you all voted National! It was terrible being looked after by Labour - they were like nannies compared to Action Man John and his best buddy Bill. Puke!

    Andre: I don't know if you've been paying attention, but there's not a lot of sympathy flowing in either direction. And one might not be remiss in pointing out that the previous Government wasn't exactly shy about lashing quote unquote 'the culture of waste and extravagance' at TVNZ blah blah blah, and calling for teachers and health care workers to show 'restraint' in their wage claims.

    Goose sauce for everyone, darling.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

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