Editorials 17 June 2010

June 17th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald hits out at dubious pet projects:

The latest example of misuse is the $120,000 that the Auckland City Council’s finance and strategy committee has voted to spend on commissioning a history of the council from 1989 to 2010. …

Never mind, also, that the money is being spent on a work which, no matter how worthy, will be of interest to few and read by even fewer.

Two previous volumes covering the history of Auckland from 1871 to 1989 hardly featured on bestseller lists. …

In time, an uncommissioned historian would surely come up with a far more interesting and relevant work.

I blogged on this, this morning, and agree with the Herald that it is un-necessary expenditure.

The other three are all on and . First The Press:

Last week, before his demotion from the Labour Party front bench over his misuse of his ministerial credit card while in government, Chris Carter spoke of being close to quitting because of the uproar over the matter.

It was apparently only a passing thought but now that he is cooling his heels at home after the Labour leader, , bluntly told him to take some time off to consider his future, it is a question he should seriously consider. Carter’s appalling behaviour in the days after the exposure of his credit card transgressions is only the latest indication that he may lack the temperament, moral compass and gravitas that should be the basic equipment of a member of Parliament and Cabinet minister. …

Carter’s first response, on the other hand, was a pig-headed refusal to accept that he had done anything wrong. Even when Goff finally made it clear to him on Tuesday that his performance had not been acceptable, he still declined to apologise to his fellow Labour MPs and fled from journalists who tried to question him on the matter. It was only after Goff told him to go home and calm down that he finally made the public apology he should have made days earlier. By this time he had forced Goff into the farcical position of having to hold a third press conference of the day to deal with the matter.

The Dom Post:

They show that ministers in the last Labour government thought nothing of spending more on a night’s accommodation, a meal or a taxi ride than some of their constituents could earn in a couple of weeks. The difference between Mr Carter and the other two Labour MPs who misused their ministerial cards for personal expenditure – Shane Jones and Mita Ririnui – is his lack of contrition. …

There are even times when it is in the national interest for them to splash out on a particularly good bottle of wine or expensive meal, for example, when hosting their international counterparts. What the records released last week show, however, is that ministers in the last government lacked the ability to distinguish between spending in their interest and the country’s interest.

That is a problem not just for Mr Carter, who cannot ever hope to hold another ministerial post, but for his party. Bollinger, lobster, massages, limousines, helicopter rides and $700 taxi fares are not the way middle New Zealand lives, let alone Labour’s traditional supporters, the ones Labour’s MPs rely on to give up their free time to hand-deliver mail, knock on doors and ferry supporters to the polls on election day.

Labour has a credibility problem. It will not be fixed by ceremonially beheading three big-spending MPs. It has to reconnect with people who don’t drink Bollinger, stay at luxury resorts or eat like royalty by demonstrating that their concerns are its concerns.

That is the long term challenge indeed.

The ODT opines:

When Labour leader Phil Goff named his shadow cabinet in November 2008, it was clear his natural caution influenced his decisions.

He did not promote any of the new entrants in Labour’s caucus, relying instead on the experience of ministers who had served in the Clark government.

His rationale may have been that they would be best suited to attack the new government and maintain Labour’s poll standings; if so, it was a strategy that failed.

Which is why he will do a full reshuffle later this year.

In that sense, the opportunity presented to Mr Goff by the expenses scandal has proved a godsend.

He was able to remove from the spotlight one serious contender for the leadership in Shane Jones, and in dealing with the other major offenders would finally be able to give a public demonstration of the strength of his own leadership.

Labour has been damaged by this, but Goff personally has come through it ok.

If Mr Carter gets the message, he likely will return in a state of contrition.

If he does not, he will resign, forcing a by-election – a prospect Mr Goff probably would not welcome.

Well who wants to fight a by-election caused by an MP resigning because he resented criticism of his overseas travel?

A leader with better advice than Mr Goff appears to be getting would have acted more ruthlessly, and perhaps Mr Goff – who evidently does not have a personal chief of staff – should consider hiring a political adviser not inclined to shelter him from unpleasant realities.

I recently saw an exceptionally good quote from Solon, a Greek lawgiver in around 600 BC, which was “In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend“. This should be pinned up in most parliamentary offices.

12 Responses to “Editorials 17 June 2010”

  1. Rex Widerstrom (5,119 comments) says:

    The difference between Mr Carter and the other two Labour MPs who misused their ministerial cards for personal expenditure – Shane Jones and Mita Ririnui – is his lack of contrition. …

    Here’s a different spin. Of the three, Chris Carter is (very marginally) the better – because he’s honest about his reaction. He felt he was entitled, and he now feels put upon that it’s being suggested he wasn’t.

    Instead the media have lapped up the other two’s “We’re very, very, very sorry… [sotto voce] for getting caught” [/sotto voce]

    Given the attitude of most of the media and many here toward lesser crims (if the value of their robbery is taken into account) I’m amazed at how Jones and Ririnui are almost feted for an apology whereas Carter is vilified for nothing more than honestly admitting to still hold the same sense of overblown entitlement and superiority he’s always had.

    You really think the other two don’t?

    If “sorry” (and a temporary demotion) is now sufficient punishment for blatant theft, I’ll start emptying the prisons now, shall I?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. lastmanstanding (1,735 comments) says:

    There is a total disconnect between the Socialists and their rabid supporters and the vast majority of the citizens. Non eof the Socialists come anywhere near to representing ‘their people”

    Its all BULLSHIT. The Socialists are all about Bolly free travel high living.

    For all of them its the best paying job they will ever have in their lives by a large mulitple.

    They lack the morals and ethics to make good judgements. Thats why they see it as their natural entitlement to waste the hard working tax payers money.

    And the same goes for their nutbar bribery schemes like WFF Student Loans the list goes on and on.

    And now they have been exposed for what they are.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. David in Chch (595 comments) says:

    I just had an epiphany, of sorts. I think I know _why_ so many of the Labour (or left-wing in general) think it’s OK to live the high life when they are in Parliament – they think that business people (read “rich pricks”) do it all the time. They don’t _know_ that that’s not the case.

    I may be left-leaning, BUT I have spent time in industry, have worked consulting (technical consulting), and still am able to do some consulting when time permits. We don’t splash out on expensive wines and fancy meals EXCEPT if the occasion warrants. It is very rare. And THAT is something that most if not all of Labour don’t get because most if not all have _never_ spent any time in industrial or commercial activity, except perhaps as unionists (and that’s not the same thing). They don’t realise that the natural business instinct is to be _frugal_ NOT extravagant.

    I admit that there are exceptions, but I look to my own experiences and observing that of my father, who spent over 30 years as an accountant in industrial management and always kept the purse-strings under control – not outrageously tight, but not profligate either. There was a once a year dinner to thank his accounting team for their hard work with the end of year accounts – but HE paid for it, NOT the company.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. slightlyrighty (2,423 comments) says:

    The best thing for Labour in all of this is that it’s parliamentary leader has come through this relatively unscathed, and with his security in that position somewhat enhanced.

    The best thing for National in all of this is that Labour’s parliamentary leader has come through this relatively unscathed, and with his security in that position somewhat enhanced.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Grant Michael McKenna (1,166 comments) says:

    Me! Me! I want to fight a by-election caused by an MP resigning because he resented criticism of his overseas travel! Bring it on!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Jeremy Harris (323 comments) says:

    @slightlyrighty, Lol…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. lastmanstanding (1,735 comments) says:

    David in Chch Yes you are so right. Having spent most of my career in big corporates Im pissed off at the LEFTS portrayal of business and business expenditure. During the late 90s Asian crisis and working for a Japanese corporation we all flew down the back of the plane organising our flights so they doubled up as hotel rooms to save money. We would plan on arriving early morning in time for the scheduled meetings and other work and then fly on to the next destination.

    Ask that of these ponces and see the reaction you get. Do they work hard. No harder than middle level up executives in large corporations. And they have far more support staff than any executive ever has.

    Put most of them into a senior exec position and they would fall apart after a week.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Positan (460 comments) says:

    Other than the unlikely event of Key’s early demise and National appointing a complete dork as leader, Phil Goff will never become prime minister. Aside from whatever qualities he’s perceived as having, he lacks both the instinctive ability to act as a leader, as well as lacking any appearance of the elements of leadership. These failings are constantly obvious everytime he presents himself. He’s a pretender, and that just can’t/won’t ever travel.

    Labour has two compelling problems which it’s now unlikely ever to overcome. For years, its controlling faction has seen to it that “brains” rather than union-bred “muscle” have held sway and the upper hand. Unfortunately, “brains” as understood by Labour means university education and activism with all emphasis on saluting attainment of the qualification – as opposed to attaining a qualification to assist the holder on the road towards attainment of a business-oriented, or similar, practical goal. Labour academics are boringly smug, scions of hierachical elevation that is determined by position rather than ability. Try to meld such a factor with those on the “outer circles” and you have the reason Labour is such a bundle of constantly-opposed factions.

    Its second problem is our society’s growing awareness that in order for something vote catching to be offered, the means of explaining how it will be funded has to be presented just as convincingly as well. Labour, having had ever very few economic realists, and having depended for most of its years on such tripe as “tax the rich” etc., is now utterly moribund policy-wise. By and large, aside from the perennial idealist/dreamer type, today’s “bright young things” no longer see opportunities likely to open for them in the Labour Party.

    Labour’s really on the way out. The credit-card spending, whether abuse or not, of its former incumbents has clearly and fundamentally demonstrated to Labour’s remaining supporters the absolute lack of commonality between the words of the said incumbents and the undeniable actuality of their actions. Thinking people wouldn’t dream of placing political power in the hands of a confirmed bunch of inepts – especially when they’ve proved themselves to be as dishonest as have Clark’s onetime minions.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. David in Chch (595 comments) says:


    I think your wording is good – “Labour academics”. Because we need to remember that there isn’t one type of academic. I am an academic, in the sense that I have an advanced degree and do research and teaching at a university. HOWEVER, I have industry experience, still work with industry people, and that’s where most of my students go when they finish.

    My time in industry taught me one very valuable lesson – it’s not the letters behind your name that matters, but what you DO with those letters that counts. I knew a fellow who had a polytech diploma from the UK, but had forgotten more about technical equipment than most people will EVER learn. He earned the utmost respect from everyone because, quite simply, he knew his stuff AND his instincts (his “educated guesses”), just like Mr Spock, were often better than anyone else’s direct calculations.

    When we do field work, for example, the first people we talk to are the farmers. They KNOW their properties (if they are any good at all), and can tell us SO much before we even start.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Positan (460 comments) says:

    David, I’m glad you do recognise that I was not knocking academics. I admire and respect academic achievement, as well as every form of attained competence where there are practical, beneficial or educational applications. I exhort and uphold such attainment – and I’ve known and respected many like the guy to whom you refer.

    The ones of whom I wrote are phoney “academics.” The ones who’ve sought to coast along on the strength of the letters gained. The ones who seek to convey that they’re thus possessed of imbued worldly cleverness – whereas their growth is stunted and they never exhibit traits other than those absorbed in the halls of academe. Their failing is that they hold their degrees to be their ultimate achievement. All consequent honours are then regarded as no less than their due. Those points, together with elemental cheapskate outlooks, are embedded failings among almost all of the “intellectuals” Labour has attracted in the past.

    Look at the Treaty mess orchestrated by Sir Geoffrey Palmer (who was sufficiently up himself to accept a knighthood for his signally unknightly performance in politics) – and examine Wikipedia’s coverage of Professor Margaret Wilson, who contributed so much to upholding the respect and stability of our parliament – and who was sufficiently unashamed to accept a DCNZM for her time in the position.

    Then look hard at the talents and substance of what’s left (ie remains) of Labour’s lot.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. sooty (351 comments) says:

    By election please, you twit. You will never be able to live the life you have become accustomed too. Fade off into obscurity, even your aunty will ignore your pleads for a job at the UN. I agree with positan, Look at the Labour party academics, a bunch of self congratulating idiots. They are meant too be looking out for the down trodden and poor, but all they are doing is troughing big time.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Murray (8,822 comments) says:

    On the first isssue its not som much a question of being a money making oportunity. Very few historians can make a livin from writing alone. However there is a value in recording what actually happened as a reference resource. If for no other reason than it stops the bastards lying later.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote