Editorials 24 February 2010

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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