Brash blows budget on 2025 taskforce

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, July 16th, 2010 - 31 comments
Categories: Economy, Politics, tax - Tags:

I wonder if Dr Brash thought close scrutiny would have faded once he left the political limelight?  He certainly sounds entirely comfortable with spending the tax taskforce’s entire three-year budget for his meeting fees as chairman in just one year, reported in today’s Dom Post:

Dr Brash was paid $1200 a day to chair the commission, and the Government expected to pay him for eight full days of meetings and preparation in 2009-10 and four days for the following two years. But documents made public by Treasury show Dr Brash received $39,450 in the first year four times the amount earmarked for his first year on the taskforce….

Dr Brash said the cost of his fees reflected the fact that he was working “close to fulltime” on the 2025 report. “I certainly worked a lot more than 10 days … working with the author, working through drafts etc.” It would have been “utterly absurd” to expect the task force to complete its work in the four days set aside by the Government.

But does the inference that this is money well earned hold up? Does it make sense for such an expensive person as Dr Brash to spend so much direct time on the drafting? Surely there were others who could have done the work more cheaply, still allowing for Dr Brash to provide feedback? And then there’s the ‘did it matter anyway’ questions. After all the Dom Post reminds us that:

Prime Minister John Key was dismissive of the group’s first report and has suggested that its recommendations are unlikely to be implemented quickly, if at all….

Dr Brash admitted being “disappointed” with the Government’s reaction to the first report but said the task force was committed to completing its work. Set up under the confidence and supply agreement with ACT, it is charged with looking at how to grow the economy to close the wage gap with Australia.

He had better hope that the Government don’t add the sort of test of ‘worth-spending’ that Joyce is talking about with tertiary education, given that the Herald’s reporting that Universities may soon have to ensure students not only perform well but also get a job after they graduate if the institutions want to secure funding. Does Dr Brash pass the value for money test that National is so keen on promoting elsewhere?

31 comments on “Brash blows budget on 2025 taskforce”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    Just to clarify, because I do not think this is obvious from the report or the post above, they only blew PART of the budget.

    Brash was budgeted for 8 days in the first year, but his expenses for that year amount to 32 days.

    The total budget is reported at the end:

    ” $450,000 budgeted for the task force over its three-year life.

    In its first year it spent $153,929, mostly on meeting fees $39,450 to Dr Brash and $34,000 to the other members. ”

    From this we can see that they spent a smidgen over 1/3rd of their budget in the first year, which actually isn’t an issue.

    The only issue here is that more money went to Brash personally than was otherwise originally envisioned, but IMO that’s not a huge deal – they were being paid to do a job, specifically who does the job doesn’t matter as long as the job is done to a high standard and the budget not overrun.

  2. michaeljsavage 2

    Fact is – the ‘taskforce’ was overseen by a man who has a background with the Reserve Bank – is a through and through National/Act man and even the Nats didnt want his findings when he submitted the report.

    In normal commercial circumstances perhaps they would need to ask for a refund for a substandard product.

    Why does a Government need some seperate body to be paid to look at an issue like this? At the very least it could have been headed by an independant possibly non political appointment. What about adding a couple of average citizens onto the working group just to balance out the aristocrats and merchants?

    Shame on Brash – $39,000 odd dollars for what? A big non-event.

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      One would hope it is not Key’s belated gift of a golden parachute … or silver harakiri for Brash’s denouement from the National leadership.

      There’s surely little reason now to be going through the torturous motions of smiles and waves and assasination?

    • jagilby 2.2

      “‘Fact is the ‘taskforce’ was overseen by a man who has a background with the Reserve Bank”….

      I’m failing to see where the issue is there?

      He does not just have a background, he was Governor. And what? Is that the issue – do we not want people of that calibre on having an influence on our country?

      Shame on Brash? For Chairing one of the major Government taskforces and going over his 4 day budget? If you had your name on a highly publicised document I think you’d want more than 4 days involvement with it. This is an absolute beat up.

  3. Scott 3

    Why did it take Brash so long to complete the report? Everything he needed for his report was already on the Act Party website. Clearly he’s not very good at using the “copy and paste” function on his computer.

    • William Joyce 3.1

      Well said Scott. Surely there was no doubt that Brash and co. would regurgitate the same old tired bankrupt Friedmanite/Washington Concensus/Rogernomics BS that did nothing but trickle wealth upwards.
      Like you say, it was so predictatble that any primary school class could have cut and pasted the press releases from the eighties and beyond, and produced it for National Standards qualifications.
      “What does rort mean?”, “Where is Switzerland and why do people go and live there?”, “Spell the words – Corporate greed”
      Even after the Global Financial Crisis, precipitated by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson playing the Friedmanite playbook and letting Lehman Bros fail and cascade to other financial institutions, you would have thought that these guys would have got it by now.
      Well as Time magazine said refering to Paulson & the GFC – “if there is a face to this financial debacle, it is now his.”
      It’s hard to shift the thinking of people who are committed zealots to a religious ideology.

      • jagilby 3.1.1

        “Well as Time magazine said refering to Paulson & the GFC ‘if there is a face to this financial debacle, it is now his.’ ”

        Haha, it’s hilarious that you try lot act as though you have the world’s best intentions when you’d love nothing more than to see the back of capitalism.

        Sure he is the face of the crisis but not in the way you would like to portray him – I’m absolutely certain that quote is taken out of context because it is a demonstrative of a lack of appreciation for the events that took place.

        Fact is that Lehman Bros was allowed to fail and the last thing Paulson or Bernanke wanted was to end up in a situation of unbridled moral hazard – if you have watched/read anything of substance on the GFC you would know that they both 100% resented having to bow down to the bulge bracket and admit that systemic risk was an issue. They were pinned in a corner. They hated having to admit they were wrong in letting Lehman’s fail on the basis of moral hazard – all the major financial institutions in the US were so intertwined that they were synonymous with systemic risk. Any further failures would have seen the US literally on its knees.

        “It’s hard to shift the thinking of people who are committed zealots to a religious ideology.” You said it mate. You said it.

        • William Joyce 3.1.1.1

          “Haha, it’s hilarious….”
          I doubt you found it that funny but you certainly did make assumptions about by beliefs ie. “…you’d love nothing more than

          to see the back of capitalism.” I fail to see how you came by this. I certainly don’t hold that belief in the slightest.
          I am not anti-capitalist. I am very much in favour of capitalism. So I am perplexed.

          Is it because you equate Friedman, Brash and the ilk as being the only and last word on capitalism?
          If so, I guess that since I disparaged Friedman, Brash etc etc you took that to me that I am anti-capitalist.

          If this is your approach then perhaps you are expressing the very issue if was trying to address.

          I was concerned at the slavish adherence to an ideology that brooks no doubts, modifications, counter arguements, or adaptations etc etc. We remember that phrase of the eighties, “There is no other way”. It was the utter predictatbility of Brash’s report that I was commenting on. His one-solution-fits-all beliefs have been well documented, have not changed, have been communicated over twenty years plus, could have been assembled into a document that said, “This is what this school of thought thinks” by someone who charged a lot less and the whole project at a fraction of the cost. The report was an irrelevancy, a white crayon. It was part of what National needed to deliver to get ACT into coalition.

          To address the other issue of slavish adherence to a doctrine…some of the characterists that people like Brash, Douglas et al express are used to define a fundamentalist. They have a set, prescibed way of doing things and nothing else will do. They consider that they have the truth and that all others are corrputed in the “faith”. This makes them inlfexible, unwilling to adapt and set in their ways.

          As for Paulson. Yes, Paulson, like many, was not fully aware of the degree to which the problems faced were systemic.

          From what I can tell Bernanke had some idea and as he was well steeped in the history of the Great Depression he had serious misgivings about playing the Moral Hassard card beause of the risk and the lessons of history. He wondered if it could possibly be a case of both Too-Big-To-Fail and Systemic and would therefore cascade. He at least would not automatically rule out government intervention…but the decision was Paulson’s and he played it the way he was educated and ideologically committed to doing so. He acted not pragmatically but ideologically. He was limited in his thinking.

          When it came to Bear Stearns, AIG etc he had learnt to adapt and find other solutions.

    • felix 3.2

      Clearly he’s not very good at using the “copy and paste’ function on his computer.

      Well apparently he prints out his emails to read them so it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that his copy/paste process involves actual paste.

  4. burt 4

    Would have better to spend the money on hip-hop tours eh guys…..

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      In so far as hip-hop tours might give some money to otherwise unemployed people at the bottom of the heap, yes, that would have been a better use of money than giving it to Brash who already has very high networth.

    • exbrethren 4.2

      So you’re attacking Key for more dodgy spending Burt John’s Hip-hop flip-flop.

      Remember both the Brash report rort and Key’s pacific holiday jamboree were JK approved abuses of tax-payer money whereas the ‘infamous’ hip-hop tour you refer to was approved at a lower level.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Also, the title of this post is wrong.

    Brash was on the 2025 Taskforce, charged with working out how we can catch up with Australia.

    He has nothing to do with the Tax Working Group. These groups are often mixed up because they were formed at the same time and reported close together and the 2025 taskforce had a long of recommendations around tax, but they are separate entities.

    captcha: irritating

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      These groups are often mixed up because they were formed at the same time and reported close together and made the same ideological and delusional recommendations.

      FIFY

      • William Joyce 5.1.1

        Wasn’t one of the tax taskforce members also one of the tax advisers to Westpac for the scheme that was found to have illegally deprived the NZ tax of 2 Billion dollars?
        Talk about the foxes in charge of the chicken coup!

  6. ianmac 6

    “Its first report called for the Government to slash spending by $9 billion, reform welfare, scrap the NZ Superannuation Fund, raise the pension age, cut subsidies for health and education and reform employment law.”
    Good money well spent?

  7. J Mex 7

    Seems Brash isn’t very good at managing other peoples money.

    A shame for a few people because that is what he now does for a day job.

  8. peter 8

    Thats a heck of alot of corned beef dinners !

  9. Rex Widerstrom 9

    Dr Brash said the cost of his fees reflected the fact that he was working “close to fulltime’ on the 2025 report. “I certainly worked a lot more than 10 days

    As it happens, I’m working on a report for a client right now (well, when I’m not skiving off commenting on blogs, that is).

    We discussed the work involved and agreed a budget for my input.

    Thank you, Dr Brash, for giving me foresight and the courage to bill my client three times what we agreed and, when he asks me what the hell I think I’m doing, I’ll simply say “the cost of my fees reflect the fact that I worked ‘close to fulltime’ on the report and that I certainly worked a lot more than the time we agreed upon”. With no reference to my client to see if they minded paying the extra of course.

    Does anyone know if Brash runs business mentoring courses? Given he’s invented a proven method to triple your income, I’d be interested in signing up 8-|

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      Yes, it is true that Brash got paid much more than expected, however the overall budget itself was not blown, and the product was still delivered.

      • J Mex 9.1.1

        Yes. Not hard to do if the budget has funds aside to seek expert opinions and you don’t bother. you just ask yourself and pocket a bit more of the cost savings.

    • Hamish Gray 9.2

      Well according to Kiwiblog, Brash did work that would otherwise have been farmed out to more expensive external consultants – so what’s the big deal?

      Rex you should know this then – anyone who has commissioned a consultancy knows that you agree to a price based on estimated workloads and timelines, but that entails flexibility within the agreed price on how the end product is delivered. So if the contractor doesn’t farm out as much of the service as originally expected, then no big deal, provided their hours equal their charge rate.

  10. this man in charge of a kiwisaver fund yeah right!

  11. rainman 11

    $1200 a day isn’t really that expensive – for a contract consultant – although it depends what value one is getting, and in this case I’d suspect the answer would be something awfully close to (if not below) zero.

    Captcha: clubs – old boys?

    • Hilary 11.1

      $1200 is about 6 weeks worth of the unemployment benefit and many such beneficiaries would be contributing to the economy through voluntary work, child care etc. What exactly did Brash contribute for his $1200 per day from the taxpayer? And they got extra for food, housing and transport.

      • loota 11.1.1

        Come now Hilary, you know its different rules for the home lads than for the bennies.

      • rainman 11.1.2

        Don’t misunderstand, Hilary – I’m the first to criticise the discrepancy in wages within NZ. I was just pointing out that it is going rate for a certain type of person.

        And no, I don’t feel there was any value extracted from the good doctor in exchange for his fee. I know plenty of libertarian idiots who can spout the same stuff – it’s not that hard, let’s be honest.

  12. hmmmm 12

    Is nobody going to mention the fact that Brash did the work instead of contracting it out, and that money was saved over all? Worth a mention, surely.

    $150/hour is a small fraction of what Brash could command. I think it is bad form, to say the least, to accuse him of blowing his budget when, actually, he’s spent less money than planned without bothering to mention that, and not recognise he is working for way below his market rate. Bad form, Standard.

    • loota 12.1

      I’m confused – it seems to me like you’re saying that there’s no problem with Brash spending the entire 3 year budget in a single year on himself because really, we got such a good deal on him that we “saved money overall”? Even though part of the issue is that he clearly did not plan his time correctly to what was allowed in the budget?

      Sorta reminds me of my ex who was of the opinion that “the more you spend at a sale, the more you save”

      I think this is what you’re saying, yeah?

      • Armchair Critic 12.1.1

        I think hmmmm is saying that $150/hr to repackage the ACT party manifesto is excellent value for money. And it is excellent – for Don Brash..

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    1 week ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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