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Credit card scandals & false economies

Written By: - Date published: 11:02 am, June 23rd, 2010 - 90 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

90 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

    Nats’ sense of entitlement behind credit card abuse

    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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  • “A Passage to India”: enduring art in changing times
    by Don Franks In 1957, E M Forster wrote, of his greatest work: “The India described in ‘A Passage to India’ no longer exists either politically or socially. Change had begun even at the time the book was published ( 1924) and during the following quarter of a century it ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Contemptuous
    The Referendums Framework Bill was due back from select committee today. But there's no report on it. Instead, the bill has been bounced back to the House under Standing order 29593) because the Committee didn't bother to produce one. They probably tried. But given the membership of the committee (which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    1 week ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    1 week ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    1 week ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1000 of these now
    Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
    Last month, in response to a wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the British government purported to ban their protests from the whole of London. It was a significant interference with the freedoms of expression and assembly, and another sign of the country's decline into tyranny. But now, a court ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More crime from the spies
    Last year, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security reported on significant problems with the intelligence warrant system. While they were unwilling to declare any warrant "irregular" (meaning unlawful) due to the recent law change, they were also not willing to give the system a clean bill of health. Now, they've ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders
    The National Party has come out in support of encouraging greater vaccination uptake. But it sure isn’t the way I’d do it. National’s suggested docking the benefits of those on benefit whose kids aren’t keeping up with their vaccinations. Some in National have suggested extending that to payments under Working ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Protests Rage On: But Slogans Are Not Plans.
    Feeding The Flames: It is simply not enough to demand an end to “corruption”, or “inequality”, or the overbearing influence of the authorities in Beijing. These are just “lowest common denominator” demands: the sort of slogans that pull people onto the streets. They are not a plan.WHERE’S THE PLAN? Across ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 11,000 employed under Labour
    The labour market statistics have been released, and unemployment has risen to 4.2%. There are 115,000 unemployed - 11,000 fewer than when Labour took office. In that time the minimum wage has gone up by $2 an hour, which shows that the right's fears about increases causing unemployment are simply ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Boycott this democratic fraud
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has called for submissions on Andrew Little's tyrannical Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill. Normally I encourage participation in the democratic process. I am not doing so in this case. Instead, I encourage all of you to boycott this submissions process, and to post ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz If tiny concentrations of carbon dioxide can hold enough heat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Ban private jets
    Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and within it, one of the fastest sources is elite travel: billionaires flitting around the world in their private jets, spewing excessive pollution into the atmosphere just so they can avoid mixing with us dirty peasants. But in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Untold Suffering
    That's what we face if we don't stop climate change, according to a warning from 11,000 scientists:The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists. “We declare clearly and unequivocally ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The left and violent misogyny
    by Phil Duncan Here’s just a few of the kind of threats issued day in and day out against gender-critical women – feminists, marxists, etc – overwhelmingly by MEN (albeit men identifying as women). “Kill all Terfs”. “Shoot a Terf today”. “All terfs deserve to be shot in the head”. ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and the iPhone
    This is the third of the synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016). The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Unlike the humble cup of coffee and t-shirt that we looked at in ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    9 hours ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    9 hours ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    10 hours ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    1 day ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    2 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    6 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    7 days ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
    New rules to clamp down on overzealous wheel clamping and extortionate fees charged in order to release a vehicle have passed their final stage in Parliament today. The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill has now passed its third reading. “These changes mean $100 will be the maximum wheel clamping ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill passes first hurdle
    An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.  The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
    We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to screen travellers for border and immigration risks off-shore before they travel to New Zealand. It was launched in August and became mandatory on 1 October 2019. More than 500,000 NZeTAs have been issued since ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
    A proposed national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries is being circulated for public feedback. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage say New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 species in our waters. It has more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
    The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker said under current Overseas Investment Act rules, assets such as ports and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Forestry helps prisoners into jobs
    Eleven men from a pilot forestry training programme for prisoners in Northland now have full time jobs or job offers upon release, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. The ‘release to work’ programme was a collaboration between Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
      Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa Thank you to the Child Poverty Action Group for asking me to be here today to provide an update on some of the things that have been happening across my the social development portfolio.  Can I firstly acknowledge the vast ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
    The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer and more secure, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced today. Both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
    Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting 14 November 2019 Joint Statement 1. Defence Ministers Ron Mark and Dr Ng Eng Hen today conducted their third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore. 2. Building on the Enhanced Partnership signed between both countries in May this year, this annual meeting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
    A Bill to improve the court system’s response to sexual violence has passed its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill will reduce the trauma sexual violence complainants experience in court, while maintaining defendants’ fundamental rights and making sure the trial process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
    A new report has found New Zealand’s space sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy in the last financial year and employs 12,000 people, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
    The Government has confirmed its third major mental health facility upgrade since the Budget, this time at Palmerston North Hospital. The Prime Minister and Health Minister today visited MidCentral DHB to announce that $30 million has been allocated to upgrade its acute mental health facility. It follows earlier announcements in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
    The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme has reached the halfway mark, with 10 out of 20 District Health Boards now part of the programme. MidCentral DHB, which covers Palmerston North, Manawatu and surrounding districts, this week became the latest to DHB to offer free bowel screening to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More vaccines for meningococcal disease
    The Government welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from 1 December this year. “Meningococcal disease is a serious threat which people at higher risk should be protected from,” says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter. “The combined pharmaceutical budget was increased by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
    Groups involved with innovative fisheries research projects are encouraged to apply for government support in the latest funding round from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures programme. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the SFF Futures funding is designed to be flexible enough to support small or large projects across a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government fixes culturally arranged marriage visa issue
    The Government has fixed an issue affecting how Immigration New Zealand has processed visa applications for culturally arranged marriages, which will now see a consistent process applied which ensures people with legitimate arranged marriages can visit New Zealand while also preventing any rorting of the system. Earlier this year Immigration ...
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