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?