- Date published:
6:54 pm, February 27th, 2010 - 13 comments
Categories: john key, labour, national/act government, parliamentary spending - Tags: shane jones, Tracey Watkins, wayne eagleson
No, it’s not one of the Nats or their hangers-on. It’s Shane Jones.
Following revelations that National ministers have been essentially stealing taxpayer money by using their ministerial credit cards for prohibited purchases, Jones has recounted an incident from his time as a minister.
When Jones was Building Minister in 2008 he hosted a dinner for some architects. It was clearly ministerial business, not private, but on examining his accounts the next day Jones decided that he felt paying for some after-dinner drinks with those architects on his ministerial credit card arguably went over the line of legitimate ministerial expense. So he got out his wallet and refunded the taxpayer for those drinks.
Jones didn’t need to be caught by the media. He didn’t need to have a cry on TV. He used his own judgement and his own principles, and he paid the money back.
Of course, it’s not just Jones’s principles at play here. He had a boss, and his boss had a chief of staff, who would have gone apocalyptic at a minister displaying the sense of entitlement and carelessness with public money that we have seen from National ministers.
As Tracey Watkins notes today, Do Nothing John Key and his Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson are so lax that they didn’t give Heatley a bat around the ears when he was told off (in gentle civil service language) by Ministerial Services for abusing his card. They’re so ‘relaxed’ they didn’t even see the credit card controversy coming (and they’re clearly worried now, because Key is asking the Auditor-General not to look at all ministers’ credit card expenses).
This is straying a bit from my original point but it seems to me that Key operates on ‘high trust’ model of management – ie. he leaves his ministers to it and hopes like hell they don’t stuff. As we’re seeing nearly every week, that’s a sloppy, lazy leadership style that invites corruption.
Unfortunately, it’s exactly the same model that the Government is using in its policies – everything from Job Ops, where employers are being allowed to claim subsidies for ‘creating’ jobs that already existed, to the Whanau Ora programme, where private providers will essentially be handed a wad of taxpayer cash and trusted to use it well.
The ‘high trust’ model is just an excuse for our Do Nothing PM to not spend his time doing his job and checking public money is well spent so that he can pop off for photo ops instead.