Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Costly indeed

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  • Martin Lindberg,

    "Snouts in Troughs". Somebody remind me again why I should temper my belief that the Dominion Post doesn't meet minimum standards to qualify as a neswpaper?

    The printed NZHerald front-page was just as bad if that makes you feel any better. No, I guess not.

    It had "7 Deadly Sins" splashed all over with a photo of Parekura Horomia drinking a bottle of beer (?) under large letters reading "Gluttony". <Repeat for the remaining sins>

    Luckily "wrath" was actually provided as a good sin, because that's what the people of NZ justifiably felt.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Stuff's rolling update is getting petty.

    They're now leading with David Cunliffe and a staff member staying a night in separate rooms at the Westbury Hotel in London at a cost of $1470.

    Stuff's rolling update is a rolling update. They're not leading with anything, they're just telling you the latest thing ever so slightly out of the ordinary they've found. When the find the next thing, it will be at the top.

    It's data. There was a discussion here a while back about how more data was a good thing. What we choose to do with the data is up to us. They're just trawling through the 7000 documents of it so we don't have to.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2990 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The only sinner from National's ranks worthy of Granny's front page was Tim Grosser, I notice. Have they not finished going through National's receipts yet? Or was Labour just the desired target, and Grosser was only there to stop cries of foul play? Hard to tell.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's data. There was a discussion here a while back about how more data was a good thing. What we choose to do with the data is up to us.

    Sure. Under the headline "snouts in troughs" we are free to make up our mind with a dispassionate examination of the data.

    FFS.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7344 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    A further Friday post (sorry if I'm not doing this correctly, but I'm rather new at it) here's an interesting take on the BP spill:

    that was very funny and sad.

    I have to say during the 7 years I was with corporates I saw creditcards thrown around a bit, especially in the goodtimes, the creditcard is built for ease and generally used liberally during moments of success or celebrations of hard work.

    My memories of hotel movie porn from a book i've read is that you buy movies as they come up on the channel so i guess he's watching more than one movie at a time if he's paying for multiple movies. A double sin. Can we just have the headline we all want...

    "Wanking - ten signs your teenager is Jonsing themselves."

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's data. There was a discussion here a while back about how more data was a good thing. What we choose to do with the data is up to us. They're just trawling through the 7000 documents of it so we don't have to.

    Actually, data would be a representative sample, in context, so readers might be able to tell if this was unusual or excessive.

    Data would be, say, a table.

    This is a story the reporters have chosen to select from thousands of pages of data, and presented alone with the implication it's unusual or excessive. It took me literally a minute to determine that the rate was actually relatively modest, especially given that the bill included meals. But that item's been sitting there at the top of the article most of the afternoon.

    Do you seriously not think that's misleading?

    Key and McCully coming out and making their statements about the costs incurred by foreign and trade ministers was no accident. They're probably a bit worried they may have created a rod for their own back.

    This is shitting me as much as the rule breaches are shitting you. Have any of the people who've mentioned Chris Carter's limousine hire today bothered to check his apparently reasonable explanation?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18656 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Bill Hicks contemplated everything -

    "I learned something very important watching that Clarence Thomas hearing, and d'you know what I learned? I don't stand a fuckin' chance. Don't even call the committee to order. It'd be a real short hearing:

    "Mr. Hicks, are you familiar at all with the video series called Clam-Lappers, Volumes 1 through 90?" "All of them? I don't recall." . . .

    pornography's gotten a really bad name in our country, and I'd like to state for the record right now - I love pornography. Love it. . . .

    For the record. "Mr. Hicks, thank you for your testimony. I don't know if we have a place for ya right now on the Supreme Court, but boy, you ever thought about becoming a Senator? . . .

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    OMFG... two questions: Did anyone else just hear Ririnui on Checkpoint? Why is he being allowed anywhere near a live microphone?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11854 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    @Russell:

    Have any of the people who've mentioned Chris Carter's limousine hire today bothered to check his apparently reasonable explanation?

    Katerine was told that this morning. Chris Carter challenged her to check with Ministerial Services since he was operating on their instructions. As far as I know, no one has checked but it is still being reported as a rort. Shame. By the time it is validated the damage will have been done. Again.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Ririnui made two points:
    He says that he was told in his office the rules included booking up and repaying as soon as possible. He did so.
    He also said that he paid by cheque straight away and no one had ever corrected him or challenged his methods.
    Sounds OK to me Craig.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Sounds OK to me Craig.

    If I was a Labour Party spin doctor, I'd be getting a little nervous about the increasingly strong denials from Ministerial Services they've giving any such advice to anyone. OK, nobody at MS is going to come out and say "bitch, please" but it's not inconceivable that there's quite a paper trail contradicting the "it's the official's fault" meme. As Helen used to be so fond of saying: When you're in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11854 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    You might be right Craig but if what Ririrui was doing, was not following procedures why wouldn't there have been an "Oi! Thats wrong mate!" or to Jim Anderton for that matter? Different time. Less clear rules perhaps?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Ririrui et al may have been told by someone in their Ministerial office to do it a certain way, but that doesn't mean they were told by Ministerial Services. A minister's office is composed of liaison people from the particular Ministry/ies the Minister is responsible for (i.e. public servants), who are seconded to Ministerial Services specifically to work for the Minister, and political appointees that the Minister (or his/her party) chooses to employ, mainly from the private sector but sometimes not (i.e. not public servants).

    It's not inconceivable that a Minister was told a procedure is acceptable by someone who did not know what the rules are, but "hey it seems logical to do it that way". That said, the buck stops with the Minister, who must sign for the card and state that they have read the rules to do so.

    In other news, I find it disturbing that I agree whole-heartedly with Craig on this matter, and have consequently booked myself in for a medication rebalancing...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1835 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    They're probably a bit worried they may have created a rod for their own back.

    By passing the Official Information Act in 1982? I'm not sure we can blame Key for that.

    Chris Carter challenged her to check with Ministerial Services since he was operating on their instructions. As far as I know, no one has checked but it is still being reported as a rort. Shame. By the time it is validated the damage will have been done. Again.

    I haven't checked ... but if it were true that the Australian Government requires foreign ministers in their country to hire limousines, why has no-one else ever done this? Because it seems like the type of thing that would get onto Stuff's rolling update. Is Chris Carter the only minister we've sent to Australia over whatever the period this OIA covers is? Perhaps that's the real story that's being missed ... the New Zealand government is completely ignoring Australia :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2990 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You might be right Craig but if what Ririrui was doing, was not following procedures why wouldn't there have been an "Oi! Thats wrong mate!" or to Jim Anderton for that matter? Different time. Less clear rules perhaps?

    Honestly and more than a little cynically: I don't think so. Let me ask you a question: How many times do you repeat yourself to someone with fingers firmly stuck in their ears before you say "screw this, I've got better things to do?"

    As I've said before, I hope someone has put in a OIA to Ministerial Services for all correspondence, memoranda and relevant other documentation relating to use of ministerial credit cards for 'personal' purchases. I suspect the only thing that's changed is public exposure.

    In other news, I find it disturbing that I agree whole-heartedly with Craig on this matter, and have consequently booked myself in for a medication rebalancing...

    Don't worry, Lem. I'll say something like "Soylent Green should be beneficiaries" to turn the universe right way up again. Just for you. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11854 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    The things is they don't get into parliament to show their credit card book keeping skills.

    They do heaps of shit and then at the end of the day, not every day, after doing what we pay them for, some travelling ministers have screwed the card system up.

    I believe these people had many other things on their mind as these transactions took place and unless proof can be found that deliberate stealing was involved , the hardcore liberal in me says let's get perspective.

    We have lost thousands of dollars through bad policy, bad decision making and poor economic and social understanding not through minibars.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    We have lost thousands of dollars through bad policy, bad decision making and poor economic and social understanding not through minibars.

    The same Ministers are creating that bad policy, making those bad decisions and lacking the understanding that is costing us billions, not thousands, now and into the future. Whether Labour or National - I think they're equally screwed. The question, Jeremy, is not about how much they spend on these dodgy bills, but that they're making the dodgy decisions to spend.

    As Graeme has pointed out above, they may have actually broken the law. We, as their employers, are entitled to ask "what other laws might they have broken? " If their decision making skills are so poor in the day to day things, to their own advantage, how should we judge their decision making at grander levels?

    You, yourself, have identified that the country suffers from poor decision making. Well, these are the decision makers - it starts and finishes with them.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1835 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    In the case of the foreign trips, that's actually a bloody big call for individual ministerial staff.

    When I did this a lot (my girlfriend at the time said if I got any more airpoints I'd qualify for my own 737) we used a travel service that had accounts with a couple of the chains and billed us locally. Once you take the bed and breakfast off the expenses, anyone with a decent gold card can cope. And let's face it, generally if you're doing this stuff a lot you'll have a decent card.

    Also, most public sector places (and I'm not making this up) will advance you folding cash in the foreign currency required so you can just walk in and put it on the counter. Getting a receipt of course.

    In fact, I've found it is easier to get real cash than get a credit card expense claim signed off.

    And we're not allowed per-diems (of course, that is the real answer - just a flat rate per day, spend it how you want, no receipts. But way too sensible... I've completely lost faith in the Wellington half-wits who administer this crap)

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I believe these people had many other things on their mind as these transactions took place and unless proof can be found that deliberate stealing was involved , the hardcore liberal in me says let's get perspective.

    It's very, very hard to stretch this sentiment far enough to cover porn. Surely no one would ever think that it's okay for the taxpayer to cover her or his porn habit. Even for a short time, until it's repaid. Or a bag of golf clubs.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1300 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Porn and Men. ...what can I say?Where do I start?

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Deborah:

    Just as a matter of interest, how would your academic career look if you'd been caught out dipping into the departmental petty cash to cover your groceries and sundry personal items? And would prompt reimbursement be a mitigating factor?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11854 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's very, very hard to stretch this sentiment far enough to cover porn. Surely no one would ever think that it's okay for the taxpayer to cover her or his porn habit.

    What about if he had rented a movie of another genre (he's a "film buff", remember?). Is it okay for the taxpayer to fund my Chevy Chase habit?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7344 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    The same Ministers are creating that bad policy, making those bad decisions and lacking the understanding that is costing us billions, not thousands, now and into the future

    A lack of credit card policy knowledge in 2010, I don't sweat it.Who knows how many rules we all blow away everyday in the private sector.

    Policy knowledge, debating skills, soul, intelligence, coherence. I like that in a representative. All these people are talented reps. Einstein would have probably fucked up his creditcard once in a while.They are in parliament. It will cost a fortune to get rid of them. I'm happy that this is historical admin sloppyness until a theft motive is established.

    The sum is peanuts. Such poor thieves.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Anyway, in honour of this thread I splashed out at JB on 'I, Claudius' for less than $30 bucks. At least they have snappy dialogue, narrative plausibility and beautiful diction. Which, as dear Oscar might say, is why it's fiction.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11854 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I Claudius...fantastic. Man that was good.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

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