Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Everyone loves a quiz.

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    In any case, the amount of money involved is a secondary issue. The primary issue is about "do as I say, not as I do", after making noises about pledge card overspending.

    Well, Red, that's a legitimate point but I was thinking more about this. Both this government and the previous one made a lot of political noise about "cultures of waste and extravagance" in the public sector, and demanding "wage restraint". Well, practising what you preach is a bitch but there you go and here we are...

    Just from the news story on stuff, it didn't seem like resign as minister material to me, but maybe they're looking to not give the opposition any traction.

    Yup -- though I'm sure that's not going to stop the wannabe Oliver Stones out there. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    All the fuss is being made over 2 bottles of wine does not equal "food and beverage" and therefor he signed a misleading document.

    Frankly, I couldnt care whether the minister chose a liquid meal...

    What I want to know is how "Minister + spouse- dinner" (as shown on TV) at a party conference is a governmental expense in the first place?

    Entertaining/feeding foreign or local dignitaries might be a valid expense. Feeding your spouse while on government business may or may-not be a valid expense. But feeding yourself and your spouse at a private function is a personal expense.

    Heatly shouldn't have claimed it, and Ministerial services shouldn't have approved it.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, and DPF must be really pissed that, for once, Kiwiblog doesn't score the dumbest comment on any given subject.

    Jennifer@30 on Colin Espiner's blog, come on down:

    How do you then justify McCully spending nearly $600,000 on overseas travel in calendar year 2009, or the corner Groser spending nearly $550,000 over the same period?

    Um -- they're the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers? Also very cute slight of hand not separating out staff travel and accommodation from the headline figure, Jennifer.

    Entertaining/feeding foreign or local dignitaries might be a valid expense. Feeding your spouse while on government business may or may-not be a valid expense. But feeding yourself and your spouse at a private function is a personal expense.

    Thank you, Fletcher. Basically, I don't give a shit if Ministerial Services signed off on it, everyone has been doing it since before Adam's balls dropped, or the Auditor-General gives Heatley a fresh coat of whitewash (which is frankly not possible). It is a no-brainer to me that there is no public interest argument for any politician using a Ministerial credit card within a hundred miles of a party conference. None, Zip, Nada.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Y'know, I don't get it.

    I fail to understand why the taxpayer has to pay for any MP's booze.

    If you want some nice wine (more accurately, nice drug) with your dinner, fuckin fork out for it yourself.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    It is a no-brainer to me that there is no public interest argument for any politician using a Ministerial credit card within a hundred miles of a party conference. None, Zip, Nada.

    And yet here we are debating it. Screw the media. Off we go poppy hunting with a bazooka. Of course nothing else of any significance is happening either here or overseas.

    Grrrr.

    Footnote. I went to Scoop to look for some real news, and the top half of the front page was all about Phil Heatly. Great!

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If you want some nice wine (more accurately, nice drug) with your dinner, fuckin fork out for it yourself.

    I believe that's what his staff had been telling him for some time. Still, entitled masters of the universe like this current crop can be rather hard of hearing.

    Must be even harder to grasp it's wrong when you look around and see others getting away with rorts on the scale of English's housing one. And your leader saying it's only human to "make mistakes". Ooops, I slipped and accidentally charged my personal entertainment to the public.

    An honourable person wouldn't have done it in the first place, so no brownie points from me for fessing up on the day the figures get made public anyway.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Of course nothing else of any significance is happening either here or overseas.

    And didn't it work a treat on the tv news last night? Both channels. As if ACC changes, tax rises, unemployment, Canterbury water, mining national parks, education standards, RNZ funding, etc, weren't going on at all.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It does seem rather OTT as a response. Wrong yes, but totally minor. I remember being on a business trip myself once and getting grilled by the boss for eating peanuts from the minibar. My defense was that it was just unclear what was a fair expense - I was in a motel in the middle of nowhere, there was no dairy or anything for miles around, and the restaurant didn't open for hours, and I was hungry after a hard day working for them. At home I'd have food in the cupboard. His comeback was "yeah but we have to pay for it, and those are some bloody expensive nuts at $10 for a tiny bag". So we agreed that in future if I simply had to have something from the minibar, I just settled it separately at checkout time. I did that a couple of times, enough to bring it home to me just how much of a ripoff motel minibars are, and from then on I planned ahead. Curiously they did not consider it OTT to have one alcoholic drink with the dinner that they paid for from the motel, which was also always at rip-off prices (and way more than $10). I've often thought since that this strange disparity may have come from the fact that the boss was a boozer but he didn't like peanuts.

    The problem in the end is actually around clarity, and the boss was fully cognizant of the fact that you have to warn people not to do the things you don't want them to do sometimes. It's what they then do that's grounds for heavier action.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10596 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And didn't it work a treat on the tv news last night? Both channels. As if ACC changes, tax rises, unemployment, Canterbury water, mining national parks, education standards, RNZ funding, etc, weren't going on at all.

    That's right, Sacha -- nobody else is talking about any of these subjects, right? Also showed remarkable prescience of Heatley to lay the ground work for such an exquisite weapon of mass distraction.

    An honourable person wouldn't have done it in the first place, so no brownie points from me for fessing up on the day the figures get made public anyway.

    Of course, we could have had months of Heatley "toughing it out" -- with the nauseatingly infantile "they did it first/everyone else does it - why shouldn't I" defence, the painful semantic contortions about what exactly constitutes "personal" costs, the character assassination of civil servants and officers of Parliament who can't respond in kind etc.

    Heatley doesn't deserve sainthood any more than he deserves to end up double bunking with Philip Field. But I'm personally going to give him a (little) credit for not drawing this cluster-fuck out any further.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Trying to make sense of the story, Marty at Te Standard speculates that if Heatley had fessed up to general credit card misuse then Brownlee would have had to go as well.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    nobody else is talking about any of these subjects, right?

    Not on the 6pm tv bulletins last night, no.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    That's right, Sacha -- nobody else is talking about any of these subjects, right? Also showed remarkable prescience of Heatley to lay the ground work for such an exquisite weapon of mass distraction.

    No, not prescient, because while using the credit card was his choice, making a meal of it was not. And yes 'other people' are talking about these things, but they seem to be a minority, and it gets on my goat how the lowest common denominator effect is so pervasive in so many aspects of society, especially 'mainstream' media.

    Are we too thick to handle in depth investigative journalism, or too thick because there is such a dearth of it in evidence? Or perhaps because of the Internet we are all so enlightened about everything that broadcasters have given up telling us something we don't know in favour of entertaining us. Did I say perhaps?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    remarkable prescience

    Given Heatley's dodgy relationship with the distinction between public and private spending had been in the news since last year - and that Key's office released the figures to the DominionPost - I'm sure the situation was hardly a surprise. Though Key's scramble back from Chch suggests the timing of Heatley's departure was.

    I'm not suggesting they carefully manipulated things to conicide with a particular day's news. They didn't need to, given how journos have become increasingly fixated on the 'game' of politics rather than the content.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Trying to make sense of the story, Marty at Te Standard speculates that if Heatley had fessed up to general credit card misuse then Brownlee would have had to go as well.

    Yeah, well I expect the Sub-Standardistias to get as thoroughly weird and paranoid about this as the most excitable Kiwiboggers.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It seemed as good as any other explanation I've read about this.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Matthew Hooten tells RNZ (streaming 5mins, MP3 1.9MB) that Heatley resigned because he realised he wasn't up to riding out the pressure. Mind you, Hooten also believes the rules are too strict. Here's today's DomPost story he refers to.

    But documents issued yesterday show Mr Heatley was warned on several occasions about providing all the paperwork needed.

    In July and September, Mr Heatley was told by a Ministerial Services manager: "Due to the scrutiny that credit cards attract we would like to remind you that all records are open to review and should comply with the five expenditure principles ... of the Ministerial Office handbook."

    The principles include that spending is for official ministerial purposes only, they are properly documented, able to withstand audit scrutiny and comply with department delegations. They must also be "reasonable for the circumstances and able to withstand taxpayers' scrutiny".

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    They must also be "reasonable for the circumstances and able to withstand taxpayers' scrutiny".

    So don't issue the damn credit cards in the first place, cause unless they're paying off the national debt (yes, on credit), that's not possible. Oh, guess that would be double dipping.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Credit cards are not the problem - only the ethics of the monkeys holding them

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Not sure I agree that is the problem either, or that Heatly is a monkey.

    He won the Whangarei electorate with 64% of the vote. Perhaps his approach to Fisheries and Housing is not to the liking of the left, but many seem to think he has done a reasonable job to date, certainly those who elected him.

    Is it just me, or have public servants become the new 'entitled elite' who need a good dressing down to bring them into line. Yes his spending habits needed scrutiny and addressing, but not in public.

    And while we're all getting incensed about the $70, what do you think the cost of changing Ministers is, in terms of rebuilding ministerial portfolios, bringing a new minister up to speed with select committee hearings on some fairly broad and important issues, and the 'opportunity cost' of time spent on dealing with this stupid issue? A damn sight more than $70, or even $1000 I would hazard to guess.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    And in unrelated news, McCully anounces he'll jolly well build something on Queens wharf whether Auckland's elected representatives want it or not. Take that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    ...many seem to think he has done a reasonable job to date...

    Yes his spending habits needed scrutiny and addressing, but not in public.

    His performance as a Minister and electorate MP is irrelevant, it's his continuing to divert public money to his own private benefit after repeat warnings, both private and public.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    What is wrong with the Viaduct, Vector Arena or Aotea Square again? We don't need a "party central" on Queens Wharf.
    At least we're not being lumped with the cost of it. Ratepayer funds are already diminished by $40 million because the Eden Park Trust Board are incompetent.
    There's a lot going on already for the RWC - I get the feeling we're going to be spoilt for choice.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 349 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Oops, David has McCully's folly on t'other thread.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19611 posts Report Reply

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