Credit card scandals & false economies

Written By: - Date published: 11:02 am, June 23rd, 2010 - 92 comments
Categories: accountability, parliamentary spending - Tags:

This weekend I heard an MP confide that they had missed a Tuesday of Parliament because they had an important public meeting in their constituency to attend that evening. They could easily have flown to parliament for the day, but did not want to be portrayed by the media as profligate, “wasting the taxpayers’ money”, by using too much air-travel. They spent the day working from home on constituency and office work, but missed the core activity of MPs – debating bills in the House.

There are stories too that MPs are requiring their EAs to spend large amounts of time finding cheaper flights and accommodation too. There’s a false economy, the MPs’ reported expenses are lower, but actually a whole lot of more valuable work can’t be done by the EAs.

Is this the desired effect of the chill wind blowing from the media on our representatives’ expenses, that even John Key warned about?

I’d rather our MPs could do their jobs – parliament holding the government to account, and ministers able to focus on the important parts of their portfolio – rather than carefully going through their hotel bills, making sure that each and every item was put on the right card. I don’t want them to waste our money and their personal spending should be at their own expense; but if they put it on the government credit card and sort out the bill when it comes through, I don’t see how that affects me.

The true story of this expenses “scandal” is that there is no story, other than a bit of titillation over one member’s porn fetish. Ministers do not even hold their credit cards, their chiefs of staff do – so there never was going to be a chance for them to run their household on it.

Ministerial Services were quite happy for ministers to set their expenses square when bills came in; like many laws and company regulations the letter of the law is ignored for sensible ease of use. The alternative is either that a large amount of waste of time and money is incurred by the minister and their staff as they carefully split bills between many cards at the time; or that the minister uses their personal card all the time. As a 4 week trip overseas can stretch to $50,000 for a minister and their party, that is probably beyond even most minister’s credit card limits, and even then they’d still have to go through a credit card bill line-by-line with Ministerial Services, showing what needed refunding. And how would a $50,000 cheque from the government to a minister look to the press?

As long as they pay the money back, no worries.

So why did the Minister for Ministerial Services, John Key, decide to agree to spend over $50,000 on a OIA request showing that Labour ministers conformed to the rules as administered by Ministerial Services over their tenure? And why did he have the receipts all released while Phil Goff was in China? One can but speculate.

In the meantime John Key follows in good National tradition of waste by penny-pinching. I’ve heard an ex-Minister say how much more effective they were on their travels for having the support of their spouse with them: is John Key’s media-friendly stance of “no partners on trips” reducing how well we are represented overseas? But this is just in keeping with a government that stops home-help for the elderly so they end up in hospital costing us a lot more to keep people in a much sadder state; or stopping ACC funding certain immediate treatments that mean the health system will have to spend much more in the long term on chronic conditions.

Sometimes, it just makes sense to spend the money.

Bunji

92 comments on “Credit card scandals & false economies ”

  1. ianmac 1

    I always thought that the MPs should get a generous pay and expenses. They are a pretty elite group of about 120 so their expenses are micro against the total cost of Government. The better pay means less likely to be bribed.
    But since there is still secrecy about who donates what to Parties, the Party becomes vunerable to being persuaded by donar lobby groups, rather than the individual MP. Dodgy like Trusts?

    By the way did anyone ferret though Mr Worth’s box of receipts?

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Yeah, this is the main reason that the expenses in the UK were so outragoues – I believe common MPs only get a salary of £60k, which is a pittence if you need to live in London and/or perform many public duties that require appropriate attire etc.

  2. Croc 2

    There are stories too that MPs are requiring their EAs to spend large amounts of time finding cheaper flights and accommodation too. There’s a false economy, the MPs’ reported expenses are lower, but actually a whole lot of more valuable work can’t be done by the EAs.

    Six minutes as opposed to five minutes? I find this point to be frivolous. Very unlikely that EAs are spending large amounts of time to find the cheapest options available. I mean those options are incredibly easy to find in the first place.

    At least one gov department uses this company and has done for at least two years: https://www.orbit.co.nz/home

    It’s their job to find the cheapest options available so EAs don’t waste time doing tasks like this.

    • ianmac 2.1

      When my wife was working for a University they were required to have all flights booked through an agency. My wife being an expert booker would check the agency cost against her finds. The Agency charge was between $50 and $90 more per flight than her find. But that was the system.
      I think that Guest Post’s point was that MP’s are now too cautious against what they should be free to get the job done, and not 2-3 minutes wasted.

  3. Emp 3

    Ministerial Services were quite happy for ministers to set their expenses square when bills came in; like many laws and company regulations the letter of the law is ignored for sensible ease of use.

    Ummm no they weren’t. There were hundreds of reminders to ministers that they could not use their ministerial credit cards for personal expenses. The ministers repeatedly ignored the reminders.

    The alternative is either that a large amount of waste of time and money is incurred by the minister and their staff as they carefully split bills between many cards at the time; or that the minister uses their personal card all the time.

    Bullshit. It doesn’t take a large amount of wasted time when you’re paying a bill to note that the porn movies and flowers you’ve sent to your husband and spa treatments are personal expenses and pay them with your personal card rather than whipping out the ministerial one. It’s an instant decision of judgement. “Is this personal or ministerial.” “Can I justify this.”

    In the real world we make these decisions all the time. Must suck to be a labour party member knowing your hoity toity was so extravagant with taxpayer money.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “The ministers repeatedly ignored the reminders.”

      They were requests for bills to be reconciled promptly, coupled with reminders that credit cards should not be used for personal expenses.

      If ministerial services *truly* had a problem with credit cards being used for personal expenses and later reconciled, they would have cut the ministers off the very first time it happened, and wouldn’t have needed to send “hundreds of reminders”.

      This is a case of the written rules being unrealistic in the real world. The rules need to be changed to clarify exactly what is permissible, and what not, and what processes and procedures are valid and what not.

      “It doesn’t take a large amount of wasted time when you’re paying a bill to note that ”
      If it means you miss your flight, or are late for an important meeting, then yes, it is a big deal.

    • American Gardener 3.2

      Yes it does seem rather straight forward for a minister to split the expenses at the time of purchase.

      Having said that I can see how Shane Jones would have been caught out : hotel room booked on the ministerial credit card, movies charged automatically to the room and the card.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      It doesn’t take a large amount of wasted time when you’re paying a bill to note…

      Yes, actually it does as the services are automatically booked to the same CC at the time. To split it would probably take half an hour or more.

      Must suck to be a labour party member knowing your hoity toity was so extravagant with taxpayer money.

      They weren’t though, they paid it back. What pisses me off is the delusion thrown out by the RWNJs that they’ve actually done something wrong and the NACT spinsters in the MSM have slavishly echoed that delusion.

      • Martin English 3.3.1

        Maybe you don’t travel for work. Maybe you do, and you’re just inefficient. I tell reception, when I book in, that the room is to be on THIS card, and either
        a) give them my personal card for other expenses, or
        b) pay these other expenses as I go.

        Of course, some stuff I can justify charging back to the company, But I’m expected to do it correctly. It costs me a hell of a lot of money if I don’t do it correctly, and I get caught. I’m a bit disappointed that a party that claims to be for the working man (and yes I work my arse off) are willing to have one rule for themselves and another for them.

        • RedLogix 3.3.1.1

          So you have an employer who rigorously inisists that there should be no private expenses ever appearing on the cc, and come over all punitive if you get it wrong. Feel sorry for you having to work for arseholes like that.

          Seriously…life’s too short for that kind of shit. If you really are working your arse off for them I’d be thinking long and hard about exactly what kind of value they are putting on your time and energy.

          Ever expected to do any business travel outside of business hours? You know, the trip to the airport at 6am, or the Sunday evening flight to make an early morning meeting. Ever get reimbursed for that?

          What about all those evenings away from your family or friends? It’s coming out of your life, but the people profitting from your endeavours don’t even trust you to reimburse a few petty dollars of personal expense within a few weeks. Pathetic really.

          • Martin English 3.3.1.1.1

            Its my own company, and the people I need to keep satisfied are from the tax department !!

            BTW the anti-spam word is OWED

        • felix 3.3.1.2

          Agreed RL.

          Martin, they don’t trust you. They likely want to get rid of you. Start looking for another job before they find a reason to.

  4. Blue 4

    James Griffin wrote a great satire piece in Canvas about this issue. It’s not online, unfortunately.

    It was a fictional dinner with John Key, Barack Obama and Silvio Berlusconi and all through dinner poor John had to worry about how much everything cost and explain that if he didn’t choose the cheapest option on the menu he would be interrogated for weeks on Close Up and Campbell Live.

  5. [1.]why did the Minister for Ministerial Services, John Key, decide to agree to spend over $50,000 on a OIA request [2.]showing that Labour ministers conformed to the rules as administered by Ministerial Services over their tenure? And [3.]why did he have the receipts all released while Phil Goff was in China? One can but speculate.

    Indeed one can:

    1. because the Official Information Act and the assessment of the public interest required it.
    2. because it didn’t, as the reference above to the repeated reminders and follow-ups shows.
    3. because the Official Information Act requires the information to be released in response to a request as soon as reasonably practicable – waiting until Goff returned would have been illegal.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      “2. because it didn’t, as the reference above to the repeated reminders and follow-ups shows.”

      If ministerial services had a problem with putting personal hotel expenses on bills and reconciling them later, then they could have EASILY done a lot more than just send reminders. The fact that they didn’t, shows they condoned the practice.

      “3. because the Official Information Act requires the information to be released in response to a request as soon as reasonably practicable waiting until Goff returned would have been illegal.”

      The OIA also says that requests can be turned down on the basis of cost, or time. Considering this cost $50k and many months to procure while many other OIA requests are denied on these basis, a few more days actually isn’t a big deal, and I highly doubt would count as “illegal”.

      • As I implied in my first comment, cost and time must be weighed against the public interest. I submit that the public interest was properly considered to be high.

        • snoozer 5.1.1.1

          by whom was it considered high enough to justify $50K? Oh yeah, Key. So your point is the poster’s point.

          • really 5.1.1.1.1

            Clean the shit out of the corners of the Labour party then come back and debate the moral issue of spending money on accountability and auditing functions.

            • lprent 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Huh? Aren’t members of the public (which is how I see myself primarily) allowed to comment on public affairs. What are you? A member of some conformist faith like catholicism, moonism, or wingnutism (to name a few)?

              I criticize the NZLP, the party to which I am a member, pretty damn regularly. The only real difference with me criticizing the Nats etc is that I tend to do it inside the party because it is more effective there. That is why you find our green and union leaning authors doing most of the public criticism.

              You really do look like a total wanker from some of your really stupid comments..

              • really

                Lynn, I’m replying in kind to the majority of the comments on this thread which are REALLY REALLY stupid. So I’m not REALLY lowering the tone rather raising it somewhat, which is REALLY worrying.

  6. burt 6

    Yes I find it pretty hard to work out if a half hour massage is ok to claim in my tax returns….

    FFS – If I claim shit against my taxes (public money) that are not legally claimable and I get caught I get punished. Penalties and interest…. These plonkers, some of them warned 94 times, just get warned again. My heart bleeds for them struggling to work out if private dinners, golf clubs, knock-shop visits etc should be paid for by the tax payer or themselves….

  7. ianmac 7

    ” because the Official Information Act requires the information to be released in response to a request as soon as reasonably practicable waiting until Goff returned would have been illegal.”

    There have been numerous examples, so say Opposition MPs, where the OIA has been ignored and important information has not been forthcoming.

  8. Possibly the definitive Standard post – well done guys, it’ll be hard to top this.

  9. RedLogix 9

    This post adds weight to why I believe Labour has made a dreadful mistake in rolling over to the witch-hunt. All Goff has achieved is to set himself up for the same treatment, next time the right wing spin machine can concoct up another load of bs to fling at him.

    Despite the bleatings of the anal-retentive hide-bound nit pickers here; there is plenty of evidence to show that getting a few personal expenses aggregated into a corporate card (when incurred in the course of business travel), and then later reconciling and reimbursing is a perfectly common and acceptable practise. Written policy to the contrary is usually enforced to prevent obvious and flagrant abuse; like many such rules, enforcing them literally to the last jot and title is pointless and unnecessary. A degree of judgement and discretion is always applied around trivial and trifling matters that are not in the public interest to waste time pursuing.

    Moreover once the expense had been reconciled and reimbursed, it was no longer a public expense….therefore the public had no right to know anything about it. Again the Key govt has released information that should have remained private to bully and humiliate. The only way to deal to this is to take the fight back to them. Labour had a perfectly good story to tell and a defense many people understand, but this rolling over, sucking it up and hoping that it will all go away quickly will not work.

    All that has been achieved is that Labour has pleaded irreversibly guilty to something they were not guilty of, and as a result will have it hung around their necks for years to come. And it will be perceived by many as weak. For sure taking the fight back to the media would have been bloody, and costly….but it’s a battle that has to be won eventually. Putting it off will not hasten the left’s return to power.

    • burt 9.1

      Despite the bleatings of the anal-retentive hide-bound nit pickers here; there is plenty of evidence to show that getting a few personal expenses aggregated into a corporate card (when incurred in the course of business travel), and then later reconciling and reimbursing is a perfectly common and acceptable practise.

      And when the rules expressly forbid such practice then just ignore the rules, they are for other less entitled people.

      Written policy to the contrary is usually enforced to prevent obvious and flagrant abuse; like many such rules, enforcing them literally to the last jot and title is pointless and unnecessary. A degree of judgement and discretion is always applied around trivial and trifling matters that are not in the public interest to waste time pursuing.

      The best thing about this approach is that it is subjective and therefore open to interpretation depending on which party is abusing the rules. When it’s your team say it’s trivial and inconsequential, when it’s the other team call out that the sky is falling.

      Hide charging up bills for his partner going to Disneyland is unacceptable and he should be sacked but Jones racking up porn bills is OK and should never have been released because it reflects badly on the guy. Lets be honest, he’s in the red team and therefore the rules need to be enforced in a pragmatic way that avoids his embarrassment. Hide deserved all he got!

      Moreover once the expense had been reconciled and reimbursed, it was no longer a public expense .therefore the public had no right to know anything about it.

      We were all very quick to forgive Hide’s troughing once he paid it back. Paying it back when caught shows you have integrity and principles. There were no calls for Hide’s resignation because he did nothing wrong. Likewise Jones is being unfairly targeted.

      The role of parliamentary services is to check these things and the number of times some people have been pulled up trying to claim unreasonable personal expenses just shows how effective parliamentary services are. Lets face it, if you have had 70 warnings about personal expenses on the tax payers dime you are going to think pretty carefully to avoid the 71st warning. Imagine if you had to suffer the indignation of a 72nd and a 73rd warning as well, MPs just wouldn’t risk that.

      Again the Key govt has released information that should have remained private to bully and humiliate. The only way to deal to this is to take the fight back to them. Labour had a perfectly good story to tell and a defense many people understand, but this rolling over, sucking it up and hoping that it will all go away quickly will not work.

      Labour need to spend more tax payers money on a marketing campaign convincing tax payers that Labour have a right to help themselves to the services of prostitutes and consume fine wine at the tax payers expense when they feel like doing so. In the grand scheme 120 people spending few thousand dollars a month entertaining themselves is not going to make much difference to NZ.

      All that has been achieved is that Labour has pleaded irreversibly guilty to something they were not guilty of, and as a result will have it hung around their necks for years to come. And it will be perceived by many as weak. For sure taking the fight back to the media would have been bloody, and costly .but it’s a battle that has to be won eventually. Putting it off will not hasten the left’s return to power.

      We need money from tax payers to fight the accountability nazi’s and remind people that it is OK when Labour do it. Having defended the MPs right to help themselves we are however left to ponder; If it’s not Labour it will be National so who would you rather spent your money on prostitutes, fine wine and porn?

      • Inventory2 9.1.1

        So on that basis Red, I presume that the left is going to stop attacking Bill English over his housing allowances, given that he has paid everything back, so it’s no longer a public expense …

        No? Quelle surprise…

        • RedLogix 9.1.1.1

          You are ignoring the obvious difference, Labour’s private expenses were all repaid ages ago, pretty much as a part of a normal administrative process. One I’ve taken part in myself many, many times when in corporate life. I’m also not aware that any Labour Minister attempted to deny or unjustifiably delay legitimate repayments.

          Double Dipton however only repaid a portion of his rip-off, and only after weeks of public approbrium when he realised the depth of public anger and the damage to his political career. Moreover Bill had manipulated his affairs to directly exploit the maximum possible advantage he could extract from the rules.

          • Inventory2 9.1.1.1.1

            I’m also not aware that any Labour Minister attempted to deny or unjustifiably delay legitimate repayments.

            So you didn’t catch up that Chris Carter has only just (as in since the revelations broke) paid back personal expenditure dating back to 2004? I guess not.

            • RedLogix 9.1.1.1.1.1

              If you’re going to introduce new evidence, you need a citation.

              • With pleasure 🙂

                9.15AM: Mr Carter also bought flowers for his partner’s birthday in 2004 and purchased a movie in a Washington hotel on New Year’s Eve in 2006.

                Mr Carter said he had carefully checked his records and it appeared he had used the cards outside of the rules on five occasions.

                On March 8, 2004, he spent $80 on flowers for his partner’s birthday.

                On December 31, 2006, he spent $25.49 on a movie in a hotel in Washington.

                There was also a movie purchased by a staff member at a hotel in Berlin, costing $23.15.

                Mr Carter said a cheque for $251.16 would be sent to the department of internal affairs to cover the amount of the five errant spends.

                “My ministerial office was a very busy place. … Small mistakes were perhaps inevitable, but never excusable.”

                http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3793561/Scrutiny-over-MPs-credit-card-bills

                • RedLogix

                  $250 dating back over what …4 years.

                  umm… does the term ‘pettifogging’ mean anything to you?

          • burt 9.1.1.1.2

            I nailed it; when it’s your team say it is inconsequential, when it’s the other team call out that the sky is falling.

            You must regret fooling yourself that your team followed the rules and the other team didn’t in such a public way after Inventory2 made such a mockery of your partisan stance.

            This is why we have such simple rules, so partisan hackery can’t be used to justify the same things in our team that we complain about from the other team. I do however appreciate that when the Ministers signed the agreement to never use the ministerial credit card for personal expenses that there was bound to be a level of confusion over what that actually meant. The old chestnut of ‘the rules were confusing’ has been a saving grace for the rule makers on many occasions, giving up that juvenile defense was always going to be a painful process of public humiliation for MPs.

            When your team expenses are returned from PS with a “Not allowed’ I’ll say they were trying to slip it past the gatekeeper and you will say it was an honest admin error. When my team expenses are returned from PS with a “Not allowed’ I’ll say they made an honest admin error and you will say they were trying to slip it past the gatekeeper. Is this too hard for you to understand? Can you appreciate why they were told to not do it at all, why they were required to sign saying they wouldn’t?

            It’s not about what you and I think is the best process for them, it is about following the rules they agreed to, not the ones you and I might think appropriate depending on which team we are talking about and how we feel on the day. This is public money we are talking about

      • RedLogix 9.1.2

        We were all very quick to forgive Hide’s troughing once he paid it back.

        Hide only paid it back after being found out, trying to stare down the blatant personal hypoccrisy involved and weeks of public pressure.

        If it’s not Labour it will be National so who would you rather spent your money on prostitutes, fine wine and porn?

        Who cares what MP’s spend their own money on burt?

        Lets face it, if you have had 70 warnings about personal expenses on the tax payers dime you are going to think pretty carefully to avoid the 71st warning.

        Stupid administrative process. Everyone knew that some relatively minor personal expenses, associated with travel, were likely to finish up on ministerial cards…for all sorts of practical reasons. As pointed out above, realistically if these warnings constituted anything more than a bit of administrative box-ticking, then matters would never have gotten to 72 warnings.

        But you of course are our chief anal-retentive nit-picker round here; you’ll split hairs and turn slice and dice ‘principle’ until there is nothing left. It’s boring and pointless, and no-one really takes much notice of that sort of antic anymore burt. We’ve seen this faux-principled posturing on your part over and over.

        Besides I take if you think it’s so essential to retrospectively scrutinise ministerial expenses going back 5 years or so, why stop there? Hell there must be decades of old receipts lying around in musty boxes for you to pore over.

  10. roffle! I wasn’t going to comment until I saw word verification was “commercial”, double roffle with cheese and onions

  11. Sam Finnemore 11

    A fun read. In fact, bookmarked, since I presume Bunji won’t mind if this gets recycled and dropped on him/her should s/he criticise National ministers’ credit card or expenses spending in future – since obviously it’s all gravy as long as it gets paid back sometime later.

    Word verification: “bites”.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      since obviously it’s all gravy as long as it gets paid back sometime later.

      So when an expense is reimbursed privately, who ultimately bore the expense?

      The taxpayer or the minister?

      Is the expense now public or private?

      Is there a difference between the open scrutiny of public accounts, and the accounts of private individuals?

      Do you think that because an expense briefly appeared on a public account, this justifies the retrospective breach of privacy that has gone on here?

      When you’ve worked that out, get back to us.

      • Sam Finnemore 11.1.1

        “Do you think that because an expense briefly appeared on a public account, this justifies the retrospective breach of privacy that has gone on here?”

        I don’t think there has been a breach of privacy. No minister’s private bank balance or spending has been revealed – just the spending which they undertook with government credit cards, using public money. That is what has been made visible via the OIA.

        Even if reimbursed, public money has still been used for specifically forbidden purposes. As we are seeing with other issues in the media this week, it’s vital that the use of public money is transparent so that governments are accountable to the public.

        If ministers feel their privacy has been breached when spending on private expenses is revealed via OIA requests, then they shouldn’t use public funds for such spending in any way in the first place, even if they do reimburse those amounts.

        • RedLogix 11.1.1.1

          Total fail to answer the question. I’ll try one more time:

          So when an expense is reimbursed privately, who ultimately bore the expense?

          The taxpayer or the minister?

          Is the expense now public or private?

          The answer can only be yes or no…there is no wriggle room.

          If ministers feel their privacy has been breached when spending on private expenses is revealed via OIA

          When the spending was incurred, ie some years ago, was that spending actually subject to OIA requests at the time? If not, what has justified the retrospective change in treatment?

          • Martin English 11.1.1.1.1

            To be honest, I can’t take this anything from site about expenses, corruption etc seriously, after it’s support for Peters, but here goes …..

            So when an expense is reimbursed privately, who ultimately bore the expense?
            The original cost is borne by the Minister. However, in Carters case, where he is paying back money owed for 6 years, it should be very obvious that the taxpayer is bearing the cost of the Minister having that money. Yes, it’s a pissant piece of money in real terms to you and me, but it is real money and real principles are involved.

            Is the expense now public or private?
            The original expense or the interest expense ? The interest expense is obviously Public (nobody has mentioned paying that back). The original expense (whenever it was paid back) was incurred using a government account. If we (the great unwashed) don’t have the right to see the mechanics of the transfer of money from the Minister to the taxpayer for that expense, we make deliberate or accidental misuse much easier.

            When the spending was incurred, ie some years ago, was that spending actually subject to OIA requests at the time? If not, what has justified the retrospective change in treatment?
            This isn’t clear – are you talking about whether an OIA request at the time of the original expenditure would have been able to capture this error ? If there’s any question about whether the 6 year old claim by Carter was covered by the latest OIA request or not, it raises the convenient possibility that we only hear about, say, the last couple of years…. i.e. National troughers get caught and embarrassed, yet the long term serial ALP troughers don’t. And I’d make the point again that Carter has only just paid back expenses from 2004.

            hope this helps.
            BTW, the citation re Carter’s late payment is above.

            • RedLogix 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes, it’s a pissant piece of money in real terms to you and me, but it is real money and real principles are involved.

              Nah … its a pissant amount of money and was obviously the result of trivial administrative error in Carter’s office. Leveraging that into ‘real money and real principle’ is just risible.

              And the interest content of the expense is again an utterly pissant sum of money. Over this a man’s political career is to be trashed? Really have you no sense of perspective?

              • “Really have you no sense of perspective” LOL and
                “obviously the result of trivial administrative error in Carter’s office” Obviously! This is gold and is OBVIOUSLY worth another ROFL!

            • r0b 11.1.1.1.1.2

              To be honest, I can’t take this anything from site about expenses, corruption etc seriously, after it’s support for Peters

              Support for Peters? Remind me here Martin – could you fish out some examples?

            • lprent 11.1.1.1.1.3

              To be honest, I can’t take this anything from site about expenses, corruption etc seriously, after it’s support for Peters

              By support do you mean that some of the authors here were not interested in being part of a braying mob of unthinking idiots, but instead insisting that the judicial system should be used rather than lynching by media?

              I guess these subtleties of the legal process have managed to bypass your brain. Count yourself as one of the talkback taliban. Small minds with a religious distaste for rational legal thinking. Also known as fuckwits….

              • Dean

                IrishBill: You’re right Dean. We’re authoritarian. You win: you’re banned for life.

                • singularian

                  IrishBill: and you can have a week.

                • lprent

                  Bullshit. Your idea would hold water if I’d stopped calling you a idiot in a lynch mob after the election result was announced (and politically it became pointless).

                  But I suspect I’ve written more about your type of talkback taliban (thanks BLiP for the phrase) thinking since the election on this topic than I did before the election. That is because I find it extremely reprehensible. Making up scurrilous attacks that cannot be proven or even worth bringing charges for is the epitome of gutter politics.

                  I just point out people who act like arseholes where ever I see them. You seem to fit the bill.

            • Luxated 11.1.1.1.1.4

              ALP, Martin? Wrong country -mate-.

              • Martin English

                heh – busted !! – You’re right, I’m in Oz. Consider me another economic refugee 🙂

          • Sam Finnemore 11.1.1.1.2

            Sorry if I’m causing you frustration.

            My impression was that if the spending was unauthorised at the time (some years ago) – private expenses paid using public money, even if later then reimbursed – then it would be a matter of public record at the point where it was lodged on a government credit card, and could be reasonably expected to be revealed by an OIA request or similar at some point. Thus the decision to make the (now) private expense a matter of public record was made at the point when the minister concerned charged that private expense to a public credit card.

            Feel free to call me on this if I’m wrong (as if you needed the encouragement…)

            Maybe it really wasn’t expected amongst ministers at the time that their breaches of these rules might eventually come to public attention. Personally in the same situation I would have taken a lot more care to obey the rules to ensure nothing came back to bite me in future, even if it did cause me inconvenience to do so, but perhaps I’m just an impossible hidebound stickler for the rules that way.

            • RedLogix 11.1.1.1.2.1

              So you’ve called them as a public expense.

              So then why should the Ministers involved not ask for the monies they repaid Parliamentary Serivces under false pretences to be repaid them?

              • Sam Finnemore

                You may have misread. I said they were now a *private* expense, but that they had been made a matter of public record by virtue of public money having been wrongfully used as part of the payment trail, and hence that the information releases weren’t a breach of privacy…

                • RedLogix

                  but that they had been made a matter of public record by virtue of public money having been wrongfully used as part of the payment trail, and hence that the information releases weren’t a breach of privacy

                  OK so now it’s private expenditure. Therefore on principle it should have remained private, the public really had no business knowing about it, nor could have there been reasonable justification for a full week of media onanism over the matter.

                  However it appears you are prepared to trash that the right to privacy….because of a paperwork trail.

                  mmm….a very low threshold you have there.

                  • Stoppit, stoppit: my ribs are aching now! “OK so now it’s private expenditure”. Tell me, RedLogix: if the “private expenditure” had been blacked out with a chisel-point marker pen, would you have been satisfied?
                    “Oi: what’s with all the deletions?”
                    “Oh, that’s just private stuff that was reimbursed, so you don’t need to concern yourself with that”
                    “Eh? Don’t the rules say NO PRIVATE EXPENDITURE to be put on the cards?”
                    ” ‘ “

    • Bunji 11.2

      If they reconcile genuine expenses without first being discovered, then, yes, I shall see no need to criticise them. I’m not saying that the Labour ex-ministers were perfect – taking a year rather than a month to pay back your bill is a bit naughty – but not worth a week of undivided media attention, and not worth spending >$50k to find out. It just seems like an easy beat-up by a National Party desperate to distract, and a national media desperate for a UK-style expenses scandal.

      (And I’ll admit to being a he, if it makes your threats/promises easier 🙂 )

      • Sam Finnemore 11.2.1

        Don’t worry, I don’t have the time or inclination to follow your posts looking for a chance to drop you in it in future… 🙂 Was more a way of making a point than an actual promise – and certainly I didn’t intend it as a threat. Will de-bookmark if it saves you the stress, though!

        Agreed that there are more important issues that could be focused upon – but as noted above I think the spending was clearly outside the rules set down. So the way forward for a party in this situation I think is to admit that openly, take the hit, and then come back strong on topics of more import; crying foul over the timing of the release, or claiming everyone else does it too, still doesn’t change the fact that the spending was against the rules, and doing so will only prolong the embarrassment and the diversion of attention from more serious issues.

  12. Rob 12

    Surely there will be an OIA request in mid 2011 to enquire about ministers cc use from Nov 2008 that cannot possibly be denied as it will be in the public interest and may enlighten us about lots of travel expenses etc from that time. Hide, Grosser, McCully Hone Key etc

    • Inventory2 12.1

      It shouldn’t be necessary Rob – Key has proposed quarterly disclosure of ministerial spending, at the same time as MP’s travel information is released. That has to be a step in the right direction.

    • Vanilla Eis 12.2

      Key has announced that they will be releasing credit-card expenditure on a quarterly basis. No OIA request required.

      edit: Beaten to it.

  13. great piece Bunji

  14. taranaki 14

    Christ on a stick, what a stupid post. The price of spending other people’s money is to be accountable to those same people. I travel for work and I’m bloody careful about what spending my employer pays. I expect MPs to be the same, and don’t think it unreasonable. It might take more effort, it might take longer – but that is the price of accountability. Suck it up. And these disclosures show that scrutiny is both needed and deserved.

    I’m not without some sympathy for the MP who recently decided to work from home rather than return to the House, as we are seeing witch hunts in the media at present, but really this MP is overreacting. We expect to pay for MPs to fly about the country doing the work they are elected and paid to do – NZers are pretty reasonable in this regard, even if Duncan Garner isn’t (which is why Garner is universally loathed and rates like a dead parrot).

    No one would reasonably begrudge travelling between an electorate and the House. And in this case the MP easily could justify the cost – so no drama.

    But my feeling is that errant Labour MPs deserve all the opprobrium they receive at the moment, I have no sympathy for the stupidity of Jones or Carter, and believe that Carter especially is a liability who I would prefer not to darken our electoral ballots again.

    And all credit to the blue team – they’ve escaped largely unscathed, despite massive blowouts on alcohol clearly outside of the rules, and Bill English’s shoddy manipulation of trusts to maximise his income. Cries of media bias are hard to take seriously when Labour is so clearly sleeping in a bed of its own making.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      The problem is that because everyone in the system realises this episode is an ugly witch-hunt no-one knows whether expenditure deemed reasonable this week, is not going to be exhumed and used as an excuse for a political crucifixion next week.

      And all credit to the blue team they’ve escaped largely unscathed, despite massive blowouts on alcohol clearly outside of the rules, and Bill English’s shoddy manipulation of trusts to maximise his income.

      You implicitly acknowledge the blatant double standard, and are pleased about it. Noted.

      • taranaki 14.1.1

        Labour was founded on a set of values that its own MPs failed to live up to. That taste in your mouth is humble pie – time to eat it.

        There’s no point whining about the double standard when Labour are clearly the bigger offenders in the first place – it just makes it look like the left are trying to shift blame and avoid consequences of personal wrong doing.

        • RedLogix 14.1.1.1

          Labour was founded on a set of values that its own MPs failed to live up to.

          Interesting to see this expressed so clearly; how the remnants of ideas that justify class divisions are still so embedded in many people’s minds. What you are saying is that it’s bad thing for a Labour politician to drink a bottle of wine, but it’s ok for a National one. What if they were sharing a glass from the same bottle? How would you solve that dilemma?

          And I suppose conversely because National is the party representing …say enterprise and ambition… then it’s just fine for them to spend whatever they like because, well they are rich people and better than us ordinary folk.

          Obviously the rules don’t apply to them.

          There’s no point whining about the double standard when Labour are clearly the bigger offenders in the first place

          Oh I don’t know. That’s pretty much an artifact of the the time periods involved. The Nat records can only go back a portion of this first term, and after all for much of that the new regime of public transparency around Ministerial expenses would have been common knowledge. They had every pre-warning.

          By contrast we’ve trolled back through Labour’s administration 5 years or so. Of course that opened up a bigger can of worms. At the time people were legitimately acting within the expectations of the day. Always slippery ground to be on when retrospectively re-writing that sort of thing.

          How about we go back through the whole of the 90’s National administration? Think that would be squeaky clean?

          • burt 14.1.1.1.1

            Always slippery ground to be on when retrospectively re-writing that sort of thing.

            You don’t get it do you. There has been nothing re-written about the rules. Your self serving bunch got away with pretending the AG change the rules after they ignored the warnings of the Chief Electoral Officer (David Henry) in 2005. Having chosen to ignore that warning then then said the rules had been changed and under urgency validated their theft of $800,000 to tilt the election playing field. In opposition they can’t use parliament for their own self serving purpose….

            How about we get all the forms these people signed agreeing to not use the ministerial cards for personal expenses – if they were on display you would probably still say the rules had changed.

            Give up, your team have been found with their snouts in the trough again but this time they can’t pervert democracy to make their issues go away.

            • RedLogix 14.1.1.1.1.1

              There has been nothing re-written about the rules.

              burt, burt… I said nothing about re-writing the rules. What DID change was the ability for the media to access them, and the fact that back in Labour’s term the before the GFC collapse no-one really gave a rats arse about a few personal expenses appearing for a month or two on a cc before being reimbursed.

              I’m always uncomfortable about disinterring history and re-examining what people did under expectations that did not apply at the time. By all means clarify the way the rules are applied and move forward…but re-litigating history is a pointless and often unjust affair.

              How about we get all the forms these people signed agreeing to not use the ministerial cards for personal expenses

              Almost all of these expenses were incurred in the course of travel… when away from home working for the taxpayer. You’ve got this fixed idea in your petty little brain that all pollies are greedy troughers, but you really have no concept of just how much time, energy and work most of them put into it. And most especially how the glamour of business travel wears off very, very quickly. Whatever it is you are being paid, it really doesn’t compensate from being away from home, family and friends. It all comes at quite a high personal cost, one you often don’t discover until years later. (As I did…)

              And if in the course of that time away from home, often a stressful, busy time… a few extra expenses get aggregated onto the cc that are later deemed personal and repaid as part of a normal administrative process…. then it really is inconsequential …in your own words.

              Of course rules are important, but equally so is discretion and good judgement, knowing what purpose the rules serve and how and when to apply them sensibly is considered a sign of adult maturity. But I see you hopping up and down obsessively pointing to your precious policy book, slavishly insisting like some pimply conformist school prefect with a tin badge that it must be observed to the literal letter.

              Meantime back from burtland, in the real world, rules get a little bent around the margins all the time and life would be unliveable if we didn’t.

              • TightyRighty

                pretty rich coming from someone who supports the clipboard-bearing nanny staters.

                • RedLogix

                  tr,

                  Lefties and righties see rules as quite different things.

                  When I see a rule I want to know what it’s underlying purpose and intention it has, and then I go about fulfilling that intention as best I can. If in the process the literal interpretation of the rule gets a little, or even quite bent of shape… as long as I can demonstrate good intent, a better or more innovating outcome, or simply that the consequences of my shortcut are trifling and trivial … well that’s how progress gets made.

                  Lefties believe rules serve a purpose, but if we never challenged the orthodoxy, nothing would ever improve.

                  Righties on the other hand see the rules as some sort of game. They see a rule as an opportunity to see how literally close to the edge of it that they can possibly sail to. Or better still to see how they can use it to knee-cap their opposition. Bit like how soccer players will take dives to try and fool the ref …a rule is simply another tool in the game.

                  For righties rules are a way of preserving and gaming the status quo.

                  • TightyRighty

                    Red, the only rules that lefties ever see to serve a purpose involve those that enable you to impose your will on other people whose views don’t agree with yours. And if your so questioning of the orthodoxy, how come the goal isn’t to beat it? how come it’s always to make it more equitable? is it because you know your not good enough to beat it?

                    • RedLogix

                      I knew I didn’t have it correct because I find it hard to get into your way of thinking; but that little gem of yours above I’m keeping note of…it’s concise and accurate. Thanks.

          • burt 14.1.1.1.2

            RedLogix

            You said “At the time people were legitimately acting within the expectations of the day.” followed directly by “Always slippery ground to be on when retrospectively re-writing that sort of thing.”

            Then you said; “burt, burt I said nothing about re-writing the rules. What DID change was the ability for the media to access them”

            So therefore “legitimately acting within the expectations of the day” must have really been publicly appearing within the expectations of the day.

            Are you defending their non compliance with their own regulations because they didn’t expect to be found out?

            • RedLogix 14.1.1.1.2.1

              Are you defending their non compliance with their own regulations because they didn’t expect to be found out?

              No, because no-one anticipated that we would have a political environment so debased and petty that something this trifling would ever become an issue.

            • burt 14.1.1.1.2.2

              Think of it as ‘A new standard of openness and accountability’ RedLogix. It was one of Helen Clark’s campaign trail promises, you may have even voted for it more than once. It’s a bitter pill when it takes down people you like, but its better for the herd in the long run.

              • RedLogix

                And compared to the 90’s we got what Helen promised, but while rules have a legitimate constructive purpose, they can also be used by bullies and authoritarian fascists in a destructive manner. And this govt is now accumulating quite a disturbing record of using private information to publically humiliate and destroy it’s opponents. It’s a form of herd mentality called ‘mobbing’…look it up.

                But that’s the kind of pill bumptious little school prefects love swallowing. Over and over.

  15. TightyRighty 15

    http://www.thestandard.org.nz/ministers-just-sorry-they-got-caught/

    says it all really

    hat tip: Davey Crockett over at the dim post

  16. IrishBill 16

    I’m calling bullshit on this post. The spending done was out of order and politically stupid. It’s inexcusable and making excuses for it makes the site look stupid.

    • RedLogix 16.1

      I can see how you feel like that IB. After all the whole affair is stupid and out of order. Really most sensible nations wouldn’t stoop to a political scandal over something as trifling and petty as this. It must be dammned annoying that valuable time and political capital has been frittered away over this piffling fake outrage.

      But as long as Labour continues to eat shit …they will keep on feeding it to us.

      • IrishBill 16.1.1

        Most nations have better scandals but this is not about the media it’s about the failure of Labour MPs to act like Labour MPs and of poor political management from Goff.

        Some MPs could keep their hands off the public’s money. Goff thought he’d use the situation to hang them out to dry and look tough. The whole thing has blown up for all of them. Fuck ’em. they deserve each other.

        • burt 16.1.1.1

          Here here.

        • RedLogix 16.1.1.2

          Some MPs could keep their hands off the public’s money.

          Most of the the expenses were repaid ages ago…long before any public scrutiny.(With a piffling $250 exception from Carter covering 5 items over 4 years.) Therefore no public monies were molested, they were paid for privately. If you want to hang the bastards for misspending public monies …. then at least have the decency to repay them for the reimbursements that have been demanded off them under false pretences.

          Goff thought he’d use the situation to hang them out to dry and look tough.

          Which I agree has backfired badly. Will be the end of him.

          • burt 16.1.1.2.1

            then at least have the decency to repay them for the reimbursements that have been demanded off them under false pretences.

            That’s not how it works if I’m shabby paying my taxes. Is that how it works when you “borrow” public money for your own purposes?

            Without calculating use of money or estimating any unreasonable tax position or debt recovery costs, just the penalties for $250 unpaid tax after 4 years would take it to $388.26. Special people just pay the principle, the rest of us are bound by their rules governing misuse of the public purse and we face all the teeth these same people think are necessary to create compliance with the rules they write.

            You defend it, you are a long way in so why stop now.

            • RedLogix 16.1.1.2.1.1

              For someone whose so keen of the letter of the law being followed to the literal letter, I ‘m astonished that suddenly you want to impose a new rule on interest costs …when no such rule has ever existed.

              Bit like a shop offering 24 months ‘interest free’ then when you go to make your last payment and discharge the HP, the shop turns around and says…nah…we’ve changed our mind, here’s an extra charge for the interest we said we wouldn’t charge you.

              If you want a rule for imposing late penalty fees on ministerial cc’s then go knock yourself out and get one introduced….but even you will have trouble getting one retrospectively applied.

              • Disengaged

                I’m sorry RL but this argument is just ridiculous. It’s not changing the rules retrospectively. The rule has always been clear that there was not to be any private spending on Ministerial credit cards. So there was, or should, never have been any expectation from Ministers that they would have interest free access to public money until such time as it was paid back.

                The thing that annoys me about this argument is that they were/are the law makers. If the law was unclear or unworkable they should have worked with the DIA to change or clarify the rules. Ignoring the rules and then bleating about it being unfair when you get caught is childish and does not put our politicians in a good light. Especially as that is a luxury that the general public isn’t afforded. Try arguing with the IRD, Police or SFO that the law was unclear and see how far you get.

                The transparency on spending is in general a good thing, granted at the moment the pendulum has swung too far towards the reactionary with every expense being blown up as a scandal. But, hopefully once this histeria dies down it will result in Ministers being more circumspect in how they spend public money.

                The good news is that the majority of Ministers (on both sides of the fence) have now proven to have worked within the rules and have been careful with how they spend money. It just doesn’t make as sensational a news story I guess.

                Oh, and as to your other point about the rules being changed to “retrospectively” reveal these costs, I wasn’t aware that National had changed the OIA. It’s just that no-one thought to ask for these details in the past (or Labour had previously declined to release them).

                • RedLogix

                  It’s not changing the rules retrospectively.

                  I’d suggest your reading of the thread has been a little …skimpy. The retrospective dig was at burt’s suggestion that we introduce a whole new ‘late payment penalty fee’ to Ministerial cc cards. That would be a whole new rule.

                  The rest of your argument has been covered in the thread elsewhere.

                  • Disengaged

                    I’d suggest that your reading of my point was a little skimpy as I was addressing your analogy about interest free charges. When I said:

                    “The rule has always been clear that there was not to be any private spending on Ministerial credit cards. So there was, or should, never have been any expectation from Ministers that they would have interest free access to public money until such time as it was paid back. ”

                    So applying a use of money charge or similar would not have been unduly harsh and nor would it have required a change of rules as the rule had already been breached.

  17. really 17

    IB said “Some MPs could keep their hands off the public’s money.”

    But most of them couldn’t.

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    Warm welcome again to those who are here. The Mountain Tui substack was officially started on the 2nd of July. I wrote about what led me here on this post. Since then, it’s been a learning to navigate the platform, get to meet those in the community, and basically be ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • About fucking time

    The US Supreme Court has been rogue for years, with openly corrupt judges making the law up as they go to suit themselves, their billionaire buyers, and the Republican Party. But now, in the wake of them granting a licence for tyranny, President Biden is actually going to try and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: False accounting and wishful thinking

    National released their draft 2026-2030 Emissions Reduction Plan today. The plan is required under the Zero Carbon Act, and must set out policies and strategies to meet the relevant emissions budget. Having cancelled all Labour's actually effective climate change policies and crashed the carbon price, National was always going to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The Enemies Of Sunshine And Space.

    Our Houses? The Urban Density debate is a horrible combination of intergenerational avarice and envy, fuelled by the grim certainty that none of the generations coming up after them will ever have it as good as the Boomers. To say that this situation rankles among those born after 1965 is to ...
    4 days ago
  • Still the 5 Eyes Achilles Heel?

    The National Cyber Security Centre (NZSC), a unit in the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) dedicated to cyber-security, has released a Review of its response to the 2021 email hacking of NZ members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC, … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    4 days ago
  • Britain's Devastating Electoral Slip.

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    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why right wingers think all governments (including their own) are incompetent

    Since open denial of climate change is no longer a viable political option, denial now comes in disguise. The release this week of the coalition government’s ‘draft emissions reductions plan” shows that the Luxon government is refusing to see the need to cut emissions at source. Instead, it proposes to ...
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    4 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy this morning are:Chris Penk is set to roll back building standards for insulation that had only just been put in place, and which had been estimated to save 40% from power costs, after builders ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Open Letter to Pharmac

    All this talk of getting oldIt's getting me down, my loveLike a cat in a bag, waiting to drownThis time I'm coming downAnd I hope you're thinking of meAs you lay down on your sideNow the drugs don't workThey just make you worse but I know I'll see your face ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • A blanket of misinformation

    Two old sayings have been on my mind lately. The first is: “The pen is mightier than the sword”, describing the power of language and communication to help or to harm. The other, which captures the speed with which falsehoods can become ingrained and hard to undo, is: “A lie can ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 7:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 are:Scoop: Government considers rolling back home insulation standards RNZ’s Eloise GibsonNews: Government plans tree-planting frenzy as report shows NZ no longer ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 , the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day were:Simon Watts released the Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), which included proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • “Shhhh” – National's 3 Waters is loaded with higher costs and lays a path to ...

    This is a long, possibly technical, but very, very important read. I encourage you to take the time and spread your awareness.IntroductionIn 2022, then Labour Party Prime Minister Jacinda Adern expended significant political capital to protect New Zealand’s water assets from privatisation. She lost that battle, and Labour and the ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • Plugging a video channel: Dr Gilbz

    Dr. Ella Gilbert is a climate scientist and presenter with a PhD in Antarctic climate change, working at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Her background is in atmospheric sciences and she's especially interested in the physical mechanisms of climate change, clouds, and almost anything polar. She is passionate about communicating climate ...
    5 days ago
  • Some “scrutiny” again

    Back in 2022, in its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the government promised to strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation. Since then they've run a secret "consultation" on how to do that, with their preferred outcome being that agencies will consult the Ministry of Justice ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Crashing New Zealand's health system is not the way to prosperity, Prime Minister

    Another day, and yet another piece of bad news for New Zealand’s health system. Reports have come out that General Practitioners (GP) may have to close doors, or increase patient fees to survive. The so-called ‘capitation’ funding review, which supports GP practices to survive, is under way, and primary care ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Closer Than You Think: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.

    Redefining Our Terms: “When an angry majority is demanding change, defending the status-quo is an extremist position.”“WHAT’S THIS?”, asked Laurie, eyeing suspiciously the two glasses of red wine deposited in front of him.“A nice drop of red. I thought you’d be keen to celebrate the French Far-Right’s victory with the ...
    5 days ago
  • Come on Darleen.

    Good morning all, time for a return to things domestic. After elections in the UK and France, Luxon gatecrashing Nato, and the attempted shooting of Trump, it’s probably about time we re-focus on local politics.Unless of course you’re Christopher Luxon and you’re so exhausted from all your schmoozing in Washington ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • How the Northwest was lost and may be won

    This is a guest post by Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which we encourage you to check out. It is shared by kind permission. The Northwest has always been Auckland’s public transport Cinderella, rarely invited to the public funding ball. How did ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Tuesday July 16

    Luxon has told a Financial Times’ correspondent he would openly call out China’s spying in future and does not fear economic retaliation from Aotearoa’s largest trading partner.File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy on Tuesday, ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Tuesday, July 16

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 6:00 am on Tuesday, July 16 are:PM Christopher Luxon has given a very hawkish interview to the Financial Times-$$$ correspondent in Washington, Demetri Sevastopulu, saying ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Tuesday, July 16

    Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 6:00 am are:BNZ released its Performance of Services Index for June, finding that services sector is at its lowest level of activity ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The second crisis; assumption was the mother

    Late on the night of July 16, 1984, while four National Cabinet Ministers were meeting in the Beehive office of Deputy Prime Minister Jim McLay, plotting the ultimate downfall of outgoing Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, another crisis was building up in another part of the capital. The United States ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    5 days ago
  • Can we air condition our way out of extreme heat?

    This is a re-post from The Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler Air conditioning was initially a symbol of comfort and wealth, enjoyed by the wealthy in theaters and upscale homes. Over time, as technology advanced and costs decreased, air conditioning became more accessible to the general public. With global warming, though, ...
    6 days ago
  • Review: The Zimiamvian Trilogy, by E.R. Eddison (1935-1958)

    I have reviewed some fairly obscure stuff on this blog. Nineteenth century New Zealand speculative fiction. Forgotten Tolkien adaptations. George MacDonald and William Morris. Last month I took a look at The Worm Ouroboros (1922), by E.R. Eddison, which while not strictly obscure, is also not overly inviting to many ...
    6 days ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on the Trump assassination attempt.

    In this episode of “A View from Afar” Selwyn Manning and I discuss the attempt on Donald Trump’s life and its implications for the US elections. The political darkness grows. ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Law & Order: National Party 1, Police 0, Public -1

    What happened?Media is reporting that police have lost in their pay dispute with the Coalition Government.Some of you might remember that the police rejected Labour’s previous offer in September, 2023, possibly looking forward to be taken care of by the self-touted ‘Party of Law and Order’ - National.If you look ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the Trump shooting and a potential hike in fees for visiting the doctor

    Having watched Donald Trump systematically exploit social grievances, urge people not to accept his election loss and incite his followers to violent insurrection… it is a bit hard to swallow the media descriptions over the past 24 hours of Trump being a “victim” of violence. More like a case of ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Monday July 15

    The exploitation of workers on the national fibre broadband rollout highlights once again the dark underbelly of our ‘churn and burn’ economy. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy today are:An extraordinary Steve Kilgallon investigation into ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Monday, July 15

    Photo by Jessica Loaiza on UnsplashTL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last three days to 9:00 am on Monday, July 15 are:Investigation: Immigration NZ refused to prosecute an alleged exploiter despite a mountain of evidence - ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • City Centre Rebuild: How Soon Is Now?

    Patrick Reynolds is deputy chair of the City Centre Advisory Panel and a director of Greater Auckland There is ongoing angst about construction disruption in the city centre. And fair enough: it’s very tough, CRL and other construction has been going on for a very long time. Like the pandemic, ...
    Greater AucklandBy Patrick Reynolds
    6 days ago
  • Peril, dismay, resolution

    This afternoon we rolled into Budapest to bring to a close our ride across Europe. We did 144 km yesterday, severe heat messages coming in from the weather app as we bounced along unformed Hungarian back roads and a road strip strewn with fallen trees from an overnight tornado. Somewhere ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • Bullet the Blue Sky

    In the locust windComes a rattle and humJacob wrestled the angelAnd the angel was overcomeYou plant a demon seedYou raise a flower of fireWe see them burnin' crossesSee the flames, higher and higherBullet the blue skyBullet the blue skyThe indelible images, the soundtrack of America. Guns, assassinations, where-were-you-when moments attached ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Monday, July 15

    TL;DR: The top six announcements, rulings, reports, surveys, statistics and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the three days to 6:00 am on Monday, July 23 are:University of Auckland researcher Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy published an analysis of the impact of Auckland's 2016 zoning reforms.BNZ's latest Performance ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s diary for the week to July 23 and beyond

    TL;DR: The six key events to watch in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy in the week to July 23 include:PM Christopher Luxon has returned from a trip to the United States and may hold a post-Cabinet news conference at 4:00 pm today.The BusinessNZ-BNZ PSI survey results for June will be released this ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Was The Assassination Attempt Fake?

    Hi,It’s in incredible photo, and we’re going to be talking about it for a long time:Trump, triumphantly raising his hand in the air after being shot. Photo credit: Evan VucciYou can watch what happened on YouTube in real time, as a 20-year-old from Pennsylvania lets off a series of gunshots ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • 40 years ago, inside the crisis that made modern NZ

    It had rained all day in Auckland, and the Metro Theatre in Mangere was steamed up inside as more and more people arrived to celebrate what had once seemed impossible. Sir Robert Muldoon had lost the 1984 election. “Piggy” Muldoon was no more. Such was the desire to get rid ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #28

    A listing of 34 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, July 7, 2024 thru Sat, July 13, 2024. Story of the week It's still early summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The season comes as our first year of 1.5°C warming ...
    7 days ago
  • Unsurprising, but Trump shooting creates opportunity for a surprising response

    I can’t say I’m shocked. As the US news networks offer rolling coverage dissecting the detail of today’s shooting at a Donald Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, and we hear eye-witnesses trying to make sense of their trauma, the most common word being used is shock. And shocking it is. ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Escalation in the States as Trump is shot and his allies capitalize on the moment

    Snapshot summary of the shooting in the States belowAnd a time to remember what Abraham Lincoln once said of the United States of America:We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    7 days ago
  • Bernie Sanders: Joe Biden for President

    I will do all that I can to see that President Biden is re-elected. Why? Despite my disagreements with him on particular issues, he has been the most effective president in the modern history of our country and is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump — a demagogue and ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Questions from God

    Have you invited God into your online life? Do you have answers for his questions? Did I just assume God’s pronouns?Before this goes any further, or gets too blasphemous, a word of explanation. When I say “God”, I don’t meant your god(s), if you have one/them. The God I speak ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • The politics of money and influence

    Did you know: Four days ago, the CEO of Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), David Zaslav, opined that he didn’t really care who won the US Presidential election, so long as they were M&A and business friendly. Please share my Substack so I can continue my work. Thank you and happy ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Auckland & Transport Minister Simeon Brown's insanity

    Excuse me, but I just don’t feel like being polite today. What is going on with Simeon Brown? I mean, really? After spending valuable Ministerial time, focus, and government resources to overturn tailored speed limits in school and high fatality zones that *checks notes* reduces the risk of deaths and ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Were scientists caught falsifying data in the hacked emails incident dubbed 'climategate'?

    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Were scientists caught falsifying data in the ...
    1 week ago
  • What Happened to David D'Amato's Millions?

    Today’s podcast episode is for paying Webworm members — and is a conversation seven years in the making. Let me explain.Hi,As I hit “send” on this newsletter, I’m about to play my 2016 documentary Tickled to a theatre full of about 400 Webworm readers in Auckland, New Zealand.And with Tickled ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago

  • Oceans and Fisheries Minister to Solomons

    Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is travelling to the Solomon Islands tomorrow for meetings with his counterparts from around the Pacific supporting collective management of the region’s fisheries. The 23rd Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee and the 5th Regional Fisheries Ministers’ Meeting in Honiara from 23 to 26 July ...
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    20 hours ago
  • Government launches Military Style Academy Pilot

    The Government today launched the Military Style Academy Pilot at Te Au rere a te Tonga Youth Justice residence in Palmerston North, an important part of the Government’s plan to crackdown on youth crime and getting youth offenders back on track, Minister for Children, Karen Chhour said today. “On the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Nine priority bridge replacements to get underway

    The Government has welcomed news the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has begun work to replace nine priority bridges across the country to ensure our state highway network remains resilient, reliable, and efficient for road users, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“Increasing productivity and economic growth is a key priority for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Update on global IT outage

    Acting Prime Minister David Seymour has been in contact throughout the evening with senior officials who have coordinated a whole of government response to the global IT outage and can provide an update. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has designated the National Emergency Management Agency as the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand, Japan renew Pacific partnership

    New Zealand and Japan will continue to step up their shared engagement with the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “New Zealand and Japan have a strong, shared interest in a free, open and stable Pacific Islands region,” Mr Peters says.    “We are pleased to be finding more ways ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New infrastructure energises BOP forestry towns

    New developments in the heart of North Island forestry country will reinvigorate their communities and boost economic development, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says. Mr Jones visited Kaingaroa and Kawerau in Bay of Plenty today to open a landmark community centre in the former and a new connecting road in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 'Pacific Futures'

    President Adeang, fellow Ministers, honourable Diet Member Horii, Ambassadors, distinguished guests.    Minasama, konnichiwa, and good afternoon, everyone.    Distinguished guests, it’s a pleasure to be here with you today to talk about New Zealand’s foreign policy reset, the reasons for it, the values that underpin it, and how it ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Delivering 24 hour pothole repairs

    Kiwis and freight operators will benefit from the Coalition Government delivering on its commitment to introduce targets that will ensure a greater number of potholes on our state highways are identified and fixed within 24 hours, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  “Increasing productivity to help rebuild our economy is a key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Peer Support Specialists rolled out in hospitals

    Five hospitals have been selected to trial a new mental health and addiction peer support service in their emergency departments as part of the Government’s commitment to increase access to mental health and addiction support for New Zealanders, says Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey.  “Peer Support Specialists in EDs will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Consultation opens for the Emissions Reduction Plan

    The Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows we can stay within the limits of the first two emissions budgets while growing the economy, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says. “This draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows that with effective climate change policies we can both grow the economy and deliver our ...
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    3 days ago
  • Benefit stats highlight need for welfare reset

    The coalition Government is providing extra support for job seekers to ensure as many Kiwis as possible are in work or preparing for work, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says. “While today’s quarterly data showing a rise in the number of people on Jobseeker benefits has been long ...
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    3 days ago
  • School attendance continues to increase

    Provisional school attendance data for Term 2 2024 released today has shown more students are back in class compared to last year, with 53.1 per cent of students regularly attending, compared with 47 per cent in Term 2 2023, Associate Education Minister David Seymour says. “The Government has prioritised student ...
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    3 days ago
  • $22.7m of West Coast resilience projects underway

    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed news of progress being made by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on the first of several crucial resilience projects underway on the South Island’s West Coast.“State highways across the West Coast are critical lifelines for communities throughout the region, including for freight and tourism. ...
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    3 days ago
  • Migrant school leavers to get part-time work rights

    The coalition Government is providing migrant school leavers with greater opportunities, by increasing access to part-time work rights for those awaiting the outcome of a family residence application, Immigration Minister Erica Stanford has announced.  “Many young people who are part of a family residence application process are unable to work. ...
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    4 days ago
  • Funding to support use of NZ Sign Language

    Seven projects have received government funding totalling nearly $250,000 to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Initiatives that received an NZSL Board Community Grants this year include camps that support the use of NZSL through physical and sensory activities, and clubs where Deaf people and ...
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    4 days ago
  • Inflation data shows progress in economic recovery

    Today’s Consumer Price Index data which has inflation at 3.3 per cent for the year to July 2024, shows we are turning our economy around and winning the fight against rampant inflation, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “While today’s data will be welcome news for Kiwis, I know many New ...
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    4 days ago
  • Experts to advise Minister on Oranga Tamariki

    The Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board has been re-established by the Minister for Children, Karen Chhour. “I look forward to working with the new board to continue to ensure Oranga Tamariki and the care and protection system, are entirely child centric,” Minister Chhour says. “The board will provide independent advice ...
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    5 days ago
  • Expectations set for improved medicines access

    Associate Health Minister David Seymour says he has set clear expectations for Pharmac around delivering the medicines and medical technology that Kiwis need.  “For many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely. New cancer medicines ...
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    5 days ago
  • Regional Development Minister to host summits

    Regional Development Minister Shane Jones will hold a series of nationwide summits to discuss regional priorities, aspirations and opportunities, with the first kicking off in Nelson on August 12. The 15 summits will facilitate conversations about progressing regional economic growth and opportunities to drive productivity, prosperity and resilience through the ...
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    5 days ago
  • Government delivers new school for Rolleston

    The Coalition Government is addressing growing demands on Canterbury’s school network, by delivering a new primary school in Rolleston, Education Minister Erica Stanford says. Within Budget 24’s $400 million investment into school property growth, construction will begin on a new primary school (years 1-8) in Selwyn, Canterbury.  Rolleston South Primary ...
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    5 days ago
  • New speed camera signs to improve safety

    The Government is welcoming the rollout of new speed camera signs for fixed speed cameras to encourage drivers to check their speeds, improving road safety and avoiding costly speeding tickets, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says. “Providing Kiwis with an opportunity to check their speed and slow down in high crash areas ...
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    5 days ago
  • NZ, Korea strengthen relationship

    New Zealand and the Republic of Korea continue to strengthen their relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “New Zealand and Korea have a long history – from New Zealand soldiers fighting in the Korean War, through to our strong cooperation today as partners supporting the international rules-based order.    ...
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    6 days ago
  • Investing for future growth in tourism and hospitality

    The Government is moving forward with recommendations from the Tourism Data Leadership Group, beginning with establishing a Tourism Data Partnership Fund says Tourism and Hospitality Minister Matt Doocey. “The Tourism Data Partnership Fund is funded through the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) and will provide up to $400,000 ...
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    6 days ago
  • 4000 more job seekers to get case managers

    A new over-the-phone employment case management service will see thousands more job seekers under the age of 25 supported to find work, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston has announced. “MSD case managers provide valuable support to help people into work, but less than a third of those receiving ...
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    6 days ago
  • Trade Minister to attend G7 meeting in Italy

    Trade Minister Todd McClay will attend the Group of Seven (G7) Trade Ministers meeting in Reggio Calabria, Italy next week. This is the first time New Zealand has been invited to join the event, which will be attended by some of the world’s largest economies and many of New Zealand’s ...
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    7 days ago
  • Ministers reveal consequences for unruly Kāinga Ora tenants

    Ministers are pleased to see Kāinga Ora taking a stronger approach to managing unruly, threatening or abusive tenants, Housing Minister Chris Bishop and Associate Housing Minister Tama Potaka say.    “For far too long, a small number of Kāinga Ora tenants have ridden roughshod over their neighbours because, under Kāinga ...
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up US visit in California

    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has finished a successful four-day visit to the United States with meetings in California on his final day focusing on innovation and investment.  “It has been fantastic to be in San Francisco today seeing first-hand the deepening links between New Zealand and California. “New Zealand company, EV Maritime, ...
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister leads Indo-Pacific Four at NATO

    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon today chaired a meeting of the Indo-Pacific Four (IP4) countries – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The IP4 met in the context of NATO’s Summit in Washington DC hosted by President Biden. “Prosperity is only possible with security,” Mr Luxon says. “We need ...
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    1 week ago
  • District Court judges appointed

    Attorney-General Hon Judith Collins today announced the appointment of three new District Court Judges.   The appointees, who will take up their roles in July and August at the Manukau, Rotorua and Invercargill courts, are:   Matthew Nathan Judge Nathan was admitted to bar in New Zealand in 2021, having previously been ...
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    1 week ago
  • Urgent review into Wairoa flood response begins

    Environment Minister, Penny Simmonds today announced the terms of reference for a rapid review into the Wairoa flood response. “The Wairoa community has raised significant concerns about the management of the Wairoa River bar and the impact this had on flooding of properties in the district,” says Ms Simmonds. “The Government ...
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    1 week ago
  • NZDF’s Red Sea deployment extended

    New Zealand has extended its contribution to the US-led coalition working to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The decision to extend this deployment is reflective of the continued need to partner and act in line with New ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government provides support to tackle tax debt and compliance

    New compliance funding in Budget 2024 will ensure Inland Revenue is better equipped to catch individuals who are evading their tax obligations, Revenue Minister Simon Watts says. “New Zealand’s tax debt had risen to almost $7.4 billion by the end of May, an increase of more than 50 per cent since 2022. ...
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    1 week ago
  • Taking action to reduce road cones

    The Coalition Government is taking action to reduce expenditure on road cones and temporary traffic management (TTM) while maintaining the safety of workers and road users, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  Rolling out a new risk-based approach to TTM that will reduce the number of road cones on our roads.  ...
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    1 week ago
  • Celebrating 100 years of progress

    Te Arawa Lakes Trust centenary celebrations mark a significant milestone for all the important work done for the lakes, the iwi and for the Bay of Plenty region, says Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka. The minister spoke at a commemorative event acknowledging 100 years ...
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