Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Disingenuous Press

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  • Sacha,

    Michelle Boag on Q&A this morning was careful to link Shane Jones with Len Brown. What was the original source of the story about Brown's mayoral credit card?

    She also expressed absolute disbelief that anyone would not carry a credit card.

    In my view what Shane Jones has done, is nowhere near as bad as what Mita Ririnui has done, so watched a few porn movies, well so what, I'll be he's not the only MP or Minister who's done that. But to go out and blatantly purchase things and to say, oh well I didn't have my personal credit card with me, I do not believe that. I couldn't believe Mayor Len Brown saying in the paper this morning, we have one credit card between us, my wife and I, and therefore I didn't have that card with me. Well what do you do? Wake up in the morning and say darling who's got the credit card today? Why don't you just go and get your own one?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Vernon Small writes that Goff will move to demote 3 former Ministers tomorrow.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    She also expressed absolute disbelief that anyone would not carry a credit card.

    Her and her mouth, suspend belief. It's those people without the credit cards that don't put themselves in the same shit, that has many struggling now. The smug attitude of the haves and have mores is what I think describes where we are headed in our new Council. Gawd I hope not.Just as the most sensible debate on this latest witch hunt has to be here at PAS. imo

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5919 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Michelle Boag on Q&A this morning was careful to link Shane Jones with Len Brown. What was the original source of the story about Brown's mayoral credit card?

    It was a tip to Jonathan Marshall, which led to the OIA request. It's reasonable to presume the tip came from a political opponent, and entirely unsurprising that John Banks' campaign chair, Michelle Boag, would choose to place great emphasis on it when appearing on TV.

    It might have been an editorial misjudgment to offer one candidate's chair a commentary platform from which to attack his opponent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Mordaunt,

    At which point it seems reasonable to ask: Does John Roughan read his own newspaper?

    This seems to come up from time-to-time where the <i>Herald</i>, in particular, is criticised for having conflicting points of view published by different authors at different points of time.

    I'm just wondering whether you think the conflictin viewpoints are 'unprofessional' or just 'poor form'?

    It would seem healthy, and not surprising, that any large organisation would have differing takes on certain issues?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Well what do you do? Wake up in the morning and say darling who's got the credit card today? Why don't you just go and get your own one?

    It's hard to disagree on that one, actually.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    In that Q&A session, I should add I was impressed by the forthrightness of both Boag and Mike Williams as former party Presidents about the unacceptibility of the spending behaviour at issue.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm just wondering whether you think the conflictin viewpoints are 'unprofessional' or just 'poor form'?

    It would seem healthy, and not surprising, that any large organisation would have differing takes on certain issues?

    I thought it was poor form for Roughan to excoriate a broadcaster for doing something his own paper was doing at the same time.

    And Roughan's not just a reporter. He's assistant editor, and a member of the group of senior journalists who write the editorials.

    I would just hope that he piped up over the editorial's claim that there was "absolutely no need" for the "perk" of an expense card, given that he clearly believes there are very sound reasons for handling expenses in this fashion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    "The document dump and following frenzy has proved to be the worst possible way of examining this issue."

    Absolutely true. Mr Key might have been wiser to have a report on the "misuse" in a form which identified the problem without the witch hunt.
    X number of Ministers spend on bar tabs
    Y number of ministers have wrongly booked up personal items
    Z number of ministers have repaid personal purchases as soon as they returned to NZ or similar.

    Aha public. We have been open and transparent and this will be the solution.......
    I wonder if Mr Key will have problems with future transparency?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Still not revealed:

    - Ministerial (incl office) expenditure other than on credit cards - ie through the cheque account and through claims
    - Backbenchers expenditure and claims
    - The various Parl Serv jam jars: Leaders and Research funding etc etc

    Someone did point out that all MPs get $14,800 or $300/wk non-taxable to cover a raft of out-of-pocket expenses. PM and Speaker get a bit more.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    - Ministerial (incl office) expenditure other than on credit cards - ie through the cheque account and through claims
    - Backbenchers expenditure and claims
    - The various Parl Serv jam jars: Leaders and Research funding etc etc

    And we'd have a much better idea of what is actually going on if we could look at all those in a sober fashion.

    At the moment, the story seems to be driven by an underlying perception that "credit card" = "free money" while other forms of payment don't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Having observed NZ systems from within and without for over 15 years, I'd suggest that the best scrutiny would come from a disinterested panel of regular people. Say 70 voters selected from across the country.

    The Ontario Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform provides a useful model of how to select a panel - page 42 ff of the Background Report.

    The panel could then determine their procedures and give decisions on what is actually 'fair and reasonable'. Would cut out a lot of the silliness that has developed over the years.

    A panel could equally be used for MPs and Ministers claims, and to adjudicate on print and broadcast media.

    I have faith in people.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    What is 'silliness' you ask?

    Well, at Parliament, it seems things have developed akin to the (yes, anecdotal) process of boiling a frog. So we started with the premise that MPs should not be out of pocket for hotel accommodation. Then that was extended to renting a flat. Then that extended to, oh if an MP can claim hotel/rent (current max of $160/night for a hotel to annual cap of $24K), then they should be able to claim actual expenses on property they own. And a number rushed out and organised their affairs to suit.

    Finally in 2009, John Key announces that Ministers will get up to $37,500 tax-free with no receipts required for a house. The equivalent of adding $55,000 per year to salaries before tax.

    If we had a panel of 70 voters, I suspect we would have different maxima in place: certainly allow actual hotel bills, rental costs, but lower caps would apply for owned property.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I should add I was impressed by the forthrightness of both Boag and Mike Williams as former party Presidents

    So why did no one follow any of this up before? It appears to have become a problem a week ago when some of these items are years old and repaid and only a problem when the media got involved. I say if we have 5 years of labour in charge ,let's go back to old National chits when they were in power and let's have 5 of their years. I suggest it wont be any different. Get everyone to reimburse and start fresh with fresh rules not to be broken or definite consequence that makes all of this fair. It sucks because we are ignoring all the other things around it.It feels like papparazzi gossip on ETV. That is suck too.Jus' sayin'

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5919 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    sober fashion

    underlying perception

    At the moment, not enough of one and far too much of the other

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    More from Mike Williams:

    Former Labour Party president Mike Williams said people were right to be angry with politicians.

    "It's not a good look for either party and they're all doing it," he said.

    "It seems to be widely accepted that you could spend and then pay it back."

    Mr Williams said the ministerial spending exposure could make it difficult to get people to go into Parliament.

    "I feel a sense of responsibility," he said.

    "I was one of the people who talked Shane into running for Parliament ... neither he nor his wife were at all keen on the idea and I bet they're throwing daggers at me right now."

    Mr Williams said the situation was becoming ridiculous.

    "We've got an article in the Herald on Sunday today that outs Mayor John Banks for lying about his height ... they are living in fishbowls. How on earth are young going to get good quality people into Parliament when they go into an outfit which actually doesn't pay that well."

    Quite. Of all the issues the HoS could have covered with respect to Banks, it went for a one-inch discrepancy in his reported height. You have to despair sometimes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Silliness, II

    MPs can travel freeely around the country to do their job. Is that entitlement always used responsibly?

    An example from last night, a National Party fun debate at the Mount Golf Club (Mt Maunganui) A fundraiser, not sure if party or another entity gets the money.

    Out of town MPs attending were Michael Woodhouse from Dunedin, Hekia Parata from Wellington, Lockwood Smith from north of Auckland, Sandra Goudie from Thames, Louise Upston from Taupo, and Todd McClay from Rotorua.

    Potential cost to the taxpayer for use of MPs entitlements:
    Hotel x 6 @ $160 = $960
    Airfares ex DUD, WLG, AKL = $1,900
    Taxis and Crown limousines x4 for each MP (each end of two flights) = $1,200
    Mileage for regional MPs = $300
    * costs probably quite a bit higher if Lockwood took a Crown limo all the way

    Would a panel of 70 voters think use of well over $4,000 of public money was justified? How did that compare to the amount raised for the local branch or charity?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Would a panel of 70 voters think use of well over $4,000 of public money was justified? How did that compare to the amount raised for the local branch or charity?

    Thanks, Philip. This is a more useful commentary on the wider issue than I've seen anywhere else.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18509 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I failed to consider that MPs spouses might have also flown up for the weekend for a nice little jolly in the Mount. Potentially pushes use of public money up over $6,000.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Yes Phil, post that at Red Alert pileeze.:)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5919 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    a National Party fun debate at the Mount Golf Club

    Well,well. That is a great fact for some context. Thank you Phil.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    Sofie, I have put my comments in the public domain so I can't stop anyone quoting/cross-posting. Feel free to do so. You may be following Red Alert more closely than I.

    Note also I have not said or suggested that National are the only party whose MPs travel for social events, such as this debate arguing "That Santa should wear Red." Just that it happened less than 24 hours ago and I have information on hand.

    As I asked, would a panel of 70 voters think the use of upwards of $6,000 a responsible use of public money?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Now, where are the Page 3 Girls?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4058 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Feel free to do so

    Actually thanks to Ian Mackay it gets over there anyway. Just it's always fair to look at the bigger or whole picture. That's what makes PAS so sweet. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5919 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Sofie

    It's those people without the credit cards that don't put themselves in the same shit, that has many struggling now

    I take the point you are making but I find that it is the people with credit cards who are mostly in financial strife thanks to free use of other peoples money rather than those who don't own one

    How many people don't have plastic and how many only have just one family credit card would be interesting to know especialy regarding Mayor Brown and some of the other MP splurgers

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

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