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A flower too far?

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, July 14th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity - Tags:

If I raised this question with respect to leftie politicians I’d be accused of all sorts of one eyed prejudice. So I’ll raise it with respect to right wing politicians instead. John Banks is in the news again this morning for all the wrong reasons:

Banks says it with $11,500 of flowers

John Banks has racked up an $11,523 bill for flowers in his current term – including a $60 bunch to the Auckland City Mayor from office staff when he was ill. In the 12 months to this June, Mr Banks spent $4500 on floral arrangements for his Town Hall office. Some months he spent $500. …

Last month, Mr Banks admitted claiming $438.80 in entertainment costs after issuing a Super City mayoral campaign bulletin saying he had “never charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland”.

In late 2009, Finance Minister Bill English was in the spotlight for spending $4051 on flowers from January to November 2009. He was surprised to discover how much the flowers were costing for the office and requested the number and size of arrangements be cut. Ministers spent $52,000 on flowers in the first 11 months of the National-led government.

Is this really news? Arguably perhaps, in view of Banks’ sanctimonious campaign based on “never charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland”. But in the general case, e.g. the figures for English and the Nats, do we really want to know, do we care, how much public figures are spending on flowers? I don’t. The recent orgy of voyeuristic flagellation of MPs over their credit card spending cost we the taxpayer $61,000 to conduct. Was it worth it? Was it value for money?

I have a certain sympathy for MPs and their life in the public spotlight. Yes they should be accountable, but it’s a fine line between accountability and trawling through laundry. At the far end of the spectrum you get fringe nutjobs hiring private detectives to tail MPs and their families. All of it one big grey continuum. But in my opinion the pendulum has swung too far, and the coverage we are getting now is more about titillation than accountability.

14 comments on “A flower too far? ”

  1. A Post With Me In It 1

    What I find funny is the endless pointing out of the rational position as if anyone in the mainstream gives a toss!

    In the mainstream media all the major players are emaciated, mean, fuzzy headed and starving for ANYTHING to sell another ad. Unsurprisingly when even a drop of blood enters their waters it becomes a feeding frenzy.

    Rationality has no part in this scenario and I would argue that continually pointing out the obvious will not change it. I guess there is a feeling of superiority in it all?

    It is not an isolated phenomenon. Such behavior can also been seen in almost all carnivorous mammals. Packs of roving dogs, lions, etc.

    Humans are no different. Bodes well for the coming food/population/global warming crisis. 🙂

    • joe bloggs 1.1

      Like I just said…OMG Banksie’s caught Chris Carter’s disease! Hope that none were for his partner that’d be too outrageous!

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.2

      Harmsworth, the father of the tabloid newspaper, had it right when he said the sort of corruption that people like to read about was something they could imagine happening to them. so we have international holidays, flowers, credit card spend ups. Even better would be ditching the wife/husband for someone from work, and so on.
      Remember the couple who had the bank error of millions, and they got away. That ran for nearly a month.

  2. comedy 2

    I have no sympathy for these people they cost a great deal of money to employ and then proceed to play fast and loose with our money and give jobs/projects to their mates etc etc.

    What has been reported in the media is the tip of the iceberg, the best option would be for all the accounts of MPs, parliamentary services and local councils to be published on line – nothing like a bit of cleansing sunlight.

  3. Carol 3

    If the NZ Herald is having a go at Banks on this, does it mean they want him to move aside and make way for a more viable right wing candidate?

  4. michaeljsavage 4

    I venture this suggestion … the media (including some of the blogging fraternity) are a bunch of old tarts in a lowlight situation … they thrive on recognition and getting the next big story thus achieving fame and fortune…

    However – for any of them all – shane jones, chris carter, John banks, phil heatley, bill english (with his house rental rort … all of them regardless of political hue …. how much good could sums of $300 / $1000 / $2000 and god rest our souls … nearly $12,000 (on flowers of all things) – how much good could that sort of money do for families with kids out there. Men working multiple shifts, mothers with kids working 2 or 3 jobs to supplement the family income or more?? With all due respect to the green lobby and the conservation lobby – who gives a flying coital encounter when you are wanting to just have a decent life for you and your family, pay bills …. or complete your university degree without burying yourself in debt – who gives a flying coital encounter, about erudite issues like saving Wekas or preventing Global Warming. People with money, time and safe employment can worry about those things – and they ARE important things. But folks – its all about back to basics. Focus on the people.

    People need to live and prosper. And these people left right and centre are demonstrating morally bankrupt behaviour. What some wouldnt give for $11,500 cash injection just to pay all the bills.

    You wait and see how squirmy pollies get when the true costs and losses of the supercity come to light. It will make Len Browns credit card bill look like a piece of wet toilet paper by comparison.

  5. Bearing in mind the reason for the credit card debacle was that Len Brown was ahead in the polls which the “Nasty Nats” did not approve of.

    So the “Nasty Nats” brought out the credit card spending to discredit Len Brown.

    National also started slipping in the polls for the first time as well and he presto, credit card spending of Labour Polititians.

    Now it’s John Banks turn to be discredited, good, he deserves the scrutiny

    and let it be intensive.

    • J Mex 5.1

      Margaret,

      How come there are tinfoil hat conspiracy reasons for the left credit card investigations, but not the right?

      I think you will find that the entire credit card stuff is explained by ‘selling more newspapers’.

      • J Mex 5.1.1

        Actually, the north shore mayor probably started Len Brown’s problems when he look a piss in public.

        He denied he had been drinking, journos went for his credit card statements. Discovered they could get them, sold newspapers, went hog-wild….

        But then again, maybe the evil National puppet masters started the whole thing. I don’t know.

        Capture: Nature [calls?]

  6. ianmac 6

    Wonder where Garner will jump on this. After all there was the frenzy over Chris Carter’s few flowers. No doubt Garner and others will paint this as a necessary expense for an important office.
    I agree with Rob. Who cares! But once having made it an issue like coffee and buns “they” had better be consistent!

  7. michaeljsavage 7

    After all Banksie, Key and Hide … you’re all going to be selling us off to the highest bidder soon anyway – so we might as well all eat drink and be merry – give us more money individually, with which to drown our sorrows with comfort foods – and anaesthetise ourselves against the way you will rape and pillage our kiwi culture and ethos.

    Fire the damn lot of you – and appoint an elected NZ board of governance responsible to the people through sub-boards with limited stipends – and have a CEO for New Zealand whose only role is to execute the dictates of the people through those elected boards based at local level. A seperate agency comprised of a max of 5 or 6 people would handle Overseas issues including trade through links with the business community. The CEOs contract would be directly responsible to the citizens of NZ.

    Get rid of all your fat salaries – turn parliament into a combination greenhouse and apartments.

    A pipe dream i know – but these bloated bureaucrats need to understand its no longer on in this economic environment to do what they do – particularly when they are so well paid.

  8. michaeljsavage 8

    Garner is a sad excuse for journalist … he like Paul Henry wont come down on a right winger.

    Or they will trot out the “it was within the rules….” Just like Farmer Joe English … a rich property owning politician who was so greedy he felt he could claim rental costs for his own property in Wellington off the taxpayer. They dont feel responsible to the Taxpayer .. any of them

  9. Irascible 9

    The Banks flower spending issue revealed the truth behind Banks’ “honesty”. He simply used accounting practices to hide the truth about his use of rate payers’ money. While he doesn’t have a credit card his PA does and that is used to pay his expenses, like flowers and personal decoration items.
    The story simply reveals that Banks hasn’t been telling the truth about his spending of the ratepayers’ money.

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