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Legitimate spending vs rorts

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, March 5th, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: Media, parliamentary spending - Tags: , ,

It was only a matter of time until some reporter copied the silly mutterings from the Right about how Phil Goff and Labour’s ‘Axe the Tax’ bus tour is paid for.

Yes, it’s taxpayer funded and, yes, that is perfectly legitimate. I honestly can’t understand why Claire Trevett thinks it is a good idea to punish a political party for using its Leader’s Budget for legitimately communicating its positions with the public.

Do we want to live in a country where parties have to rely on private funding for everything? Do we really want to turn politics into even more of an exclusively rich man’s game? Democracy isn’t free.

It’s a bit disappointing that there is a lack of balance in the article too. It mentions that Anne Tolley is on her own one-person bus tour around the country but we are not told how much that is costing or who is paying for it. Seems like one standard for Labour and another for National.

It’s pretty rare that I agree with John Key but he got it right last week when he voiced concern that journalists were getting sloppy on the spending issue. It’s perfectly right for the media to hunt out rorts and rip-offs but what’s the point of criticising MPs simply on the amount they have spent in doing their job?

Reports from Parliament tell me that some MPs are now wasting a lot of their time and their staff’s time trying to minimise their published expenses. It results in a kind of false economy – we don’t get the value out of the MPs and their staff we could but they are rewarded by not being singled out for their spending.

Look, it’s not as if there aren’t enough actual abuses of taxpayer money and other rorts to keep the media going. Half the Cabinet have been caught with their hands in the till already and enterprising journos could get plenty of material trying find out what MPs have hidden in their trusts.

By all means root out corruption but don’t punish MPs for using their budgets to do their jobs.

32 comments on “Legitimate spending vs rorts”

  1. Anne 1

    This is bloody ridiculous. ALL the political parties have at some time or another used bus tours to explain their policies and beliefs to people they would otherwise never get a chance to speak to. I think it’s time this ludicrous bit of media nonsense was highlighted in Parliament. Force the media to have to stand up and defend themselves against the politicians for once. A bit of egg on their faces would do them the world of good.

  2. IrishBill 2

    Damn, Trevett is one of my favorite gallery journos. I really expected better than this from her.

  3. Do we really want to [require] parties to rely on private funding for communicating their positions?”

    Yes.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      that’s because you’re fundamentally opposed to democracy, Peter.

      You just think the rich should rule and if you don’t have money then you don’t get a voice.

  4. Pete G 4

    Is it money well spent?

    How likely is this bus trip to:
    – influence tax policy?
    – pick up Labour support?
    – lose Labour support?

    Could the money, have been spent more wisely or effectively?
    Could the MP time have been spent more wisely or effectively?

    It comes across more to me as an equivalent to a Christian happy clappy trip, sort of semi sympathetic cringe, “who would do that?” type of thing.

    It doesn’t promote an image of a party ready to lead the country. Far from it.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      Yeah well, they could always steal some music and make a dvd.

    • Bright Red 4.2

      Pete G. Parties spending their communication budget on communication shouldn’t be subject to you approving of the communication.

      It’s not a rort just because you don’t like it. If it was, we might as well make you dictator and go home.

      • Pete G 4.2.1

        Bright Red, voters’ perceptions end up being, you know, votes. Or not.

        Politicians can do as they please, within the rules of course. And voters answer polls as they please.

        • Bright Red 4.2.1.1

          weird. so you’re saying you know you’re wrong but as long as ‘the voters’ are wrong too it’s Labour who are in the crap?

  5. I was just speaking to an apolitical person about this this morning. It is interesting how the whole rorts scandal has developed and been allowed to drag on so long by the government. Their spin on it, has been terrible. And perhaps deliberately so.

    National, in principle, favours smaller government, less restriction/regulation over the rights of the individual etc – so the current outrage suits their purposes ideologically, i.e.

    The whole ‘stuff the politicians’, and ‘plague on all their houses’ type attitude has largely been fostered by the corrupt activities of the Nats – who then ironically benefit from it.

    For instance, can you imagine trying to pass a bill in the near future providing for public funding of political parties – which if regulated properly, could clean up a lot of the so-called “rorts”?. Or will the general public read in their chosen MSM, “taxpayer rort threatens life as we know it“.

  6. Anne 6

    @ Pete G.
    Are you the same Peter G who blogged on Red Alert claiming to be the nephew of the late Martyn Findley? If so, then he would be spinning in his grave.

    “It comes across as an equivalent to a Christian happy clappy trip…”. Why? Were you there? Did you actually see this? No. You made it up in your head.

    • Pete G 6.1

      No, I’ve never posted on Red Alert, and I’m not related to any Findleys.

      “You made it up in your head.”

      Yeah, that’s what a perception is. All voters have them. I was just trying to explain an equivalent sort of feeling.

      A bus trip promoting “Axe The Tax” which means axe the increase in tax that we don’t know we will be getting yet or not and Labour may not reduce it anyway if it is increased. At least happy clappers strongly believe in something.

      The red bus might get the faithful cheering, but that’s only 30%. The next 10-20% may not be such clappy chappies.

  7. Santi 7

    I can hear the pigs squealing, with the very Phil(er) Goff emitting a loud: “oink, oink”

    • Bright Red 7.1

      How is Goff making a personal gain from this, Santi?

      It’s not like he is getting his mortgage paid or buying bottles of wine. He’s doing his job and the expenses of doing his job are picked up (within reason) by the employer.

      • Jared 7.1.1

        Just a note, Phil Goff still hasnt sold the flat he has in wellington that last august he said he was renting out and was going to sell. He claims another (perfectly legitimate) apartment from Ministerial Services.

    • reddy 7.2

      Shit. we have appalling legislation going through without a select committee stage and this sort of crap at an attempt to ressurect some democracy.

      Key said he wouldn’t raise GST. There is no mandate for it.

  8. randal 8

    key might well be right on this one.
    the press gallery has become bloated and lazy and the stuff they produce is trite nonsense or cliched crap.
    the only thing they seem to really investigate is their own navel lint.
    anyway we used to have our own airline and mp’s got free rides as a matter of course.
    now that it is semi-privately owned the press gang who are the most petty of the petit bourgeoise and think its big time to hang around airports looking chic and eating hotel food have just used it to bag mp’s insted of getting off their bums and doing something.

  9. randal 9

    and I should nmmention that if mp’s were to jump to the tune of the press gallery they would become just as timid and insular and parochial as the journos themselves.
    its bad enough when they [the journos] just rubber stamp the guff they get handed out but it would be so much worse if the parliament were to fold just like them.

  10. Kevin Welsh 10

    This will all be good fodder for the likes of Shirtcliffe and his acolytes who will be pushing hard for a return to FPP.

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      Because under FPP parties won’t get leader’s budgets? Because under FPP the opposition party has even less power?

      Sorry, I don’t see why FPP has anything to do with this.

      • Kevin Welsh 10.1.1

        Do you think the average punter in the street gives a shit what ‘budget’ the money comes from? The talk around the water cooler will be about MP’s snouts in the trough once again.

        Its all about sowing the seeds of distrust and why do we need so many MP’s.

        I thought it was pretty obvious.

  11. Anne 11

    @ Pete G. Accept you’re not the same Peter G who commented only yesterday on Red Alert.

    If you choose to perceive that the Labour bus tour consists of “nothing but happy clappers designed to get the faithful cheering” then you must also concede that the other political parties (including the Nats) who have had bus tours in the past are also “nothing but happy clappers etc.”. Something tells me you won’t like that. 🙂

    • Pete DGeorge 11.1

      Name’s a bit confusing, hard to find something differentiating but still my own name.

      I can’t see the cost benefit in a bus tour no matter who does it. $30k has been mentioned as the cost of this tour, does that include MP travel to and from the bus, and accommodation?

      Elsewhere I’ve just criticised the Nats for spending on pamphlets. Most of these mailouts seem to be self promotion rather than balanced and informative.

      I’d rather see MPs working cost efficiently for the good of the country and let their success at that attract votes. Leaders and achievers rather than passengers.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        So essentially you’re saying that no parties should get leader’s budgets paid for by the public, or that if they do get budgets, they need to have a very strict range of things they can spend the money on to ensure that it is not wasted?

  12. Pete DGeorge 12

    They obviously need to have a budget. And they can be judged on how wisely they use it.

    I agree with some that the whole expenses spotlight is at risk of becoming stupidly nitpicky. But MPs need to recognise that it is our money they are spending, so we have a right get grumpy if they don’t use it reasonably well.

    I really don’t see much point in the bus tour, especially as nothing is known for sure about what is going to be done with taxes.

  13. Anne 13

    Pete DGoerge you are talking gobbledy gook! Have a look at the picture alongside the title of Marty’s post on the opening page. Read what it says. Now do you understand what the bus tour is all about.

    • Pete DGeorge 13.1

      ??

      Axe the Tax does not sound like “policy communication”.

      It sounds more like “Anti government campaign but they may not do it anyway and if they do we may not change it anyway”.

  14. Anne 14

    You’re giving yourself away Pete…

    • Pete DGeorge 14.1

      I don’t mind giving myself away Anne. I’ve voted Labour at times, but they aren’t attracting me at the moment. Hoping they get their rebuilding on track but so far I am mostly disappointed. Could be a while in the wilderness……..

  15. sean14 15

    What tax is it exactly that Labour wanted axed? Oh, right, “Axe the Tax Increase” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  16. gitmo 16

    Oh dear a “it’s not pissing money up against a wall when we do it, only if they do it ” post.

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