Editorials 24 February 2010

February 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald wants a diplomatic end to :

The diplomacy has been described by his Government as “unprecedented”, and hopes have been high that a breakthrough would be made within a few months.

Most logically, this would involve Japan abandoning or drastically scaling back its annual whaling in the Southern Ocean in exchange for a few carrots, including, perhaps, the resumption of commercial whaling in its own waters.

The diplomatic endeavours are clearly finely balanced. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key indicated as much when he suggested this week that the outcome of the diplomacy would be either a stunning success or a stunning failure.

But if the whaling ends, then Sea Shepherd will have to find new ships to ram!

Not surprisingly the Dom Post talks ministerial credit cards:

More importantly, Mr Key must now explain how the payments were approved by officials who are supposed to act as the watchdogs in the system, but have instead assumed the role of rubber stamp.

If ministers should be aware of the rules – and they should – then so should the officials whose job it is to administer them. Either they were not, or they felt unable to reject a ministerial claim. Whichever was the case, those bureaucrats have seriously failed the public by being incompetent or meek to the point of surrender.

It is up to Mr Key, as the minister in charge of Ministerial Services, to investigate what happened, and to make the staff involved answerable for their decisions. Then he needs to make it crystal clear that nothing outside the rules should ever be agreed to, no matter who’s asking.

I agree the rules must be applied without fear or favour.

The Press weighs in on the same theme:

Cabinet ministers should by now be well aware how damaging the perception is that they have used their position to claim unjustified perks. It is therefore incumbent upon them to familiarise themselves with the rules pertaining to their various allowances and, if they have one, their ministerial credit card.

The rules regarding credit cards emphasise that they cannot be used for personal spending, regardless of whether they do so with the intention of making a reimbursement. In other words, the cards must be used for spending associated with their ministerial work. …

Ministers must always remember that when using their credit cards they are spending public money. It is not like a private-sector operation where the money spent is that of the company rather than the taxpayer.

And in the private sector the norm is for credit card receipts to be rigorously inspected, which has clearly not always occurred when officials approved illegitimate ministerial credit card use, or allowed Heatley to reimburse Ministerial Services.

To their credit, neither Heatley nor Brownlee has attempted to argue the toss. They have immediately apologised and repaid their spending which was outside the rules.

Unlike the saga in the UK.

And the ODT talks protecting police:

Whenever a police officer is bashed or abused, we all take a hit.

That is because the police are community proxies.

They are our protectors and law enforcers.

They are an integral and essential part of what makes a peaceful and effectively functioning society.

As such, we all have a fundamental interest in them, their work and their safety.

Hear hear.

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10 Responses to “Editorials 24 February 2010”

  1. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    More importantly, Mr Key must now explain how the payments were approved by officials who are supposed to act as the watchdogs in the system, but have instead assumed the role of rubber stamp.

    Guess that’s why we have urgency today (yet again) and no Questions for Oral Answer. Oh, and to spare us from yet another embarrassing performance like this one from Tolley as well, I guess.

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  2. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    And in the interests of procedural fairness we should immediately commission an independent Audit of the last three years expenses.

    Given that Mr Goff has expressed so much interest in this topic of Ministerial probity, Its clearly very important for the previous set of Labour Ministers to demonstrate that their own credit card records were impeccably managed.

    Fair?

    Or will we hear the sound of silence?

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  3. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Yep, fair. I don’t buy into the “well, the other lot did it too” defence.

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  4. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    and the greens of course should demonstrate that their super fund housing scam was consistent with the new moral standard they seek to impose.

    Look, everyone knows a work credit card is for work. Full stop, end of story. Sometimes you have to entertain, again its for a work purpose, and should be justified, otherwise you DONT DO IT.

    There, really simple.

    I hold no candle for stupidity by National Ministers, but I do notice that the people jumping up and down with glee at having discovered a “scandal ” (what not even a decent moat cleaning?) are decidedly scruffy around the gills themselves, eh toad?

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  5. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (852 comments) says:

    while toad is digesting that, he might reflect on how it was that jeanette fitzsimmons saw no apparent conflict of interest by pushing energy policies that she had a direct pecuniary interest in through her share portfolio..

    Or Sue Kedgely opining about state broadcasting when her brother-in-law is a labour party broadcaster.

    Nope, no conflict of interest there at all.

    But Murray McCully owning $31 worth of a mining company – ooooh pure EVIL!

    you just gotta laugh at these clowns.

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  6. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    shit Toad – on the subject of embarrassing performances in parliament I don’t think you can go far past this one

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  7. GPT1 (2,118 comments) says:

    I cannot help but wonder if sea shepherd is doing more harm than good for the anti whaling cause. As i understand it whale meat is not really that popular in Japan and the “research” has become more of a matter of national pride than necessity. But, like many countries (and people), Japan does not like to be seen to be backing down. The Sea Hippies just play in to the pro whaling camp by making it a matter of national pride.

    Credit cards – bad look but prompt correction goes a long way in mitigation. Also I would have to say that in my experience business credit cards are often a little more flexible – certainly in terms of entertainment/meetings vaguely connected with business.

    Agree with the sentiments re police however I cannot see why a law change is required. Assault police should only be used for the most minor assaults against police. Aggravated assault (3 years) includes a defintion of assaulting a constable in the course of their duty. For major assaults it is an aggravating factor (and so it should be) that it is a police officer.

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  8. Rex Widerstrom (5,349 comments) says:

    Nice selective quote from the ODT there, DPF. But let’s take a look at what they go on to say:

    But New Zealand has a chequered record of emotional and knee-jerk reaction to law change.

    It is easy to make law in haste in a charged atmosphere propelled by public momentum.

    A wiser course is to to wait just a little and cogitate on the sense of measures away from the furore, especially because this country lacks a second chamber to slow the sometimes hurtling progress of legislation.

    Advice Judith Collins would do well to heed, rather than channelling David Garrett.

    The lot of a police officer is dealing with the drug-crazed, the hardened criminals and law breakers of all sorts.

    That must take its toll, and it is little wonder they feel under siege at times.

    Not surprisingly, an insular culture, an “us and them” and even an insidious arrogance can be fostered.

    “Hear, hear” indeed. The ODT even goes on to identify the causes of attacks, not just on Police but on ordinary citizens:

    Drug and alcohol abuse often trigger out-of-control behaviour, and the battle on these fronts is relentless.

    Violence, one way or another, has always been part of New Zealand culture, but it has veered towards the more nasty in the public sphere.

    Decency, respect and community responsibility have weakened and the police are suffering because of that.

    So why not attack the problem at it’s source, rather than increasingly arming Police with all sorts of weapons, giving them carte blanche to violently assault innocent citizens, and then increasing penalties for the results of the malaise the ODT identifies?

    Why not impose compulsory drug treatment regimes on anyone found to be in possession of a Class A drug? – “get clean, with all the help we can possibly give you, or get locked up”? Why not take a “zero tolerance” appraoch to any act of violence? Remove fines as an option but instead impose something like a short look at the inside of a prison followed by a long spell of mopping vomit and blood at A&E? (I’m talking first offenders, milder level of assaults and so on here of course).

    Why not attack the much harder issues of “decency, respect and community responsibility” by making an example of any politician found rorting their expenses, and senior public servant lying on their CV, any Police officer found to have used excessive force and getting rid of the “do as we say, not as we do” message we’ve been getting for decades?

    Why not? Because it’s all too hard. And because a pile of maimed and dead victims builds a platform from which McVicar, Garrett, Collins and others of their ilk can preach their “get tough on crime” vote-winning bile.

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  9. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Did anyone ever think there would be a “The Prohibition of Support for Whaling Bill” introduced in an Australian or New Zealand parliament?

    That’s just plain silly.

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  10. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Prohibition of drugs only leads to more crime and violence, American 30’s as an example. This moral war is costing us our country and freedom.

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