Ridiculous criticism

May 17th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at blogs:

Why are we paying for to stay in hotels in Auckland?

According to his latest Ministerial credit card receipts [PDF, p. 12], we paid for McCully to spend two nights at the Heritage Hotel in Auckland. The expense is justified as “accommodation during ”. This would be entirely uncontentious, except for one thing: McCully represents an Auckland electorate, and I am informed he is on the electoral roll there. Which means he has a home of his own to go to in Auckland. So again, why the hotel? …

Ministers are given credit cards to cover actual, reasonable and necessary expenses – not because they feel like spending a night of luxury on the taxpayer, or just can’t be arsed driving home.

I’m sorry but this is ridicolous. First of all staying for two nights in the Heritage hotel is not a night of luxury. I’ve stayed there as TVNZ put you up there if you are up for one of their shows. It is a very standard hotel. Nothing wrong with it, but not a luxury hotel.

As for why McCully was staying there for two nights, during the Rugby World Cup. Well he was the Minister in charge of a event which is broadcast to a billion people, and has overall revenues of hundreds of millions. At an event like that you could well have meetings starting very early and finishing late, plus a hotel room allows you to hold meetings in it.

I speak from experience. I was the Chair of the organising committee for the ICANN meeting in Wellington some years ago. This is a fraction of the size of the RCW, but was a fairly major event to host, as you had 500 – 700 Internet policy makers here. Despite living in Wellington, I stayed at the official host hotel of the Duxton (and if anyone calls that a luxury hotel, they have not been there often) as it was decided that the extra cost was fairly minimal in the context of the importance of smooth management, which was having all the key decision makers staying together so that as issues arose, decisions could be made quickly.

In the context of an almost billion dollar events like the RWC, a decision by the Minister to spend two nights in the Auckland CBD rather than what can be an hour away in East Coast Bays, is unremarkable and trivial – and frankly criticism of it is ludicrous, especially painting it a night of luxury.

I think those that glamorise hotels have never stayed in one themselves. In the main they are just places they supply a bed you can sleep in and a bathroom you can shower and freshen up in. Sure there are some luxury hotels with stunning views and the like, but 95% of staying in hotels is just about a well located bed.

When I go up to Auckland, I much prefer crashing at a friend’s place than staying in sterile hotels. However sometimes I will reluctantly go into a hotel, because the location in the CBD allows you to do business more efficiently.

Why did McCully stay in a hotel for two nights in Auckland? The exact same reason – it allowed him to do his job as RWC Minister more efficiently.

UPDATE: Looking closer at the actual DIA documents, the title page is headed up “Credit Card Statements and Reconciliations – Staff of the Office of Hon Murray McCully”. This means it is not McCully’s credit card, but his staff’s ones. And when they are paying for something on behalf of the Minister, they always note that. So when there is no such notation, then the expense is presumably for them, not the Minister.

Having made inquiries, it turns out that in fact the two nights at the Heritage was for a Wellington based staff member who was in Auckland for RWC duties. So I look forward to NRT doing a retraction.

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38 Responses to “Ridiculous criticism”

  1. BeaB (2,083 comments) says:

    Those who think staying in hotels is glamorous are also those who think business trips are junkets. Anyone who has travelled for work, stayed in a succession of hotels however flash and tried to keep clothes clean and smart know just how wonderful it is to get home to normal food and your own bed.

    Work travel is a very different thing from a week in Fiji.

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  2. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    The Heritage is where the All Blacks usually stay when playing in AK. I also recall seeing some of the IRB bods in there during RWC time.

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  3. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    McCully could have asked John Banks to ask his mate Kim Dotcom for a “free” helicopter ride for McCully to and from his home.

    Problem solved, and it would have avoided all that messy stuff that happened later with an armed Police raid, extradition proceedings, and Dotcom suffering in agony with a back injury on a thin mattress and steel bed in Mt Eden Prison.

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  4. Grant Michael McKenna (1,157 comments) says:

    Once again DPF attempts to use facts to refute emotion.

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  5. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,833 comments) says:

    I wonder if Idiot Savant (a prposterous wanker) has ever attempted the drive from Torbay to Auckland CBD between 0630 and 0900?

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  6. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    @Adolf Fiinkensein 5:15 pm

    I wonder if Idiot Savant … has ever attempted the drive from Torbay to Auckland CBD between 0630 and 0900?

    Should I take that as an admission that National’s and Labour’s policies for the last 50 years re Auckland transport have been crap?

    And that you will be voting Green next election so the problem gets sorted?

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  7. tvb (4,255 comments) says:

    If it is a business trip it is better not to treat friends even very good ones, as some sort of Hotel. The Heriatge is not that fancy in fact none are and I have stayed in them all. Some are better than others. I have issues with Valet Parking, they just don’t seem to get that right.

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  8. Daigotsu (451 comments) says:

    @toad: And what is the Green’s solution? Less cars? Yeah, I’m sure Murray would have got around faster if he’d been walking or cycling.

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  9. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    Toad – A cabinet minister cannot be expected to use public transport. I saw somewhere that Green MP’s are notorious for not using public transport because they are allegedly too ‘busy’. For example Sue Kedgley had to admit to not having a ‘Snapper’ card. As the late Owen McShane said, public transport is for ‘other people’ to use.

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  10. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    Can we please stop these ridiculous complaints about ministers staying in hotels and flying around the world?

    That’s peanuts compared to what National is borrowing. It’s business, they’re working, fine with me.

    If the point is we should have fewer ministers, and therefore fewer in staying in hotels and flying around the world, then I’m listening.

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  11. RRM (9,665 comments) says:

    Daigotsu, Daigotsu, Daigotsu…

    I’m sorry but you are simply not smart enough to do the smart-arsed sarcastic bitch thing. You just go off half-cocked and appear to be a bit of an idiot.

    The idea of public transport is NOT to force everyone out of cars in some kind of totalitarian socialist life/mind-control programme.

    The idea of public transport is that if you can make it a more attractive option than driving for A LOT of people, then the roads are going to be that much less congested when you, or I, or Murray McCully need to go for a drive somewhere.

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  12. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I stay in hotels every week. Occasionally it’s the Heritage in Auckland. The small mindedness of anyone who thinks staying in a hotel is ‘better’ than their own home is breathtaking. I live in a nice home, but have stayed in truly luxurious hotels. But there’s not a night I wouldn’t rather been at home with the creaky front door, the slightly sqiffy smelling cellar and the neighbours cats deficating on my path.

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  13. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    @peterwn 5:41 pm

    Toad – A cabinet minister cannot be expected to use public transport.

    Agreed.

    But if others have a viable public transport option re both time and price, that alleviates road congestion so those who actually need to use cars, including Cabinet Ministers, can get to their destination in less time.

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  14. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    It only takes a breakfast meeting and evening meeting/dinner meeting to justify staying in a hotel. I live on the shore and have stayed overnight in hotels on the other side of the bridge for precisely that reason. Meant I didn’t have to cope with 5 hours sleep and instead got more like 7.

    Have to do a rah rah for those who point out staying in a hotel is not a benefit – it is a disruption on one’s life

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  15. insider (1,030 comments) says:

    Didn’t he stay over because the trains weren’t working and Len Brown had taken the limo?

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  16. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    The real problem here is we are a nation of penny-pinchers when it comes to our political leaders. Certainly extravagant waste should not be tolerated but expecting our leaders to always take the budget option when going about their business undermines the importance of their position and the work they are doing.

    I don’t really care whether or not Murray had breakfast meetings or late-evening meetings. If the only reason he stayed in a hotel was because it was convenient for him then that’s fine with me. He is a man holding an important office and we should be making his life as easy as possible, within reason, so that he can focus on the job. The decisions he makes are important and have a significant impact on society. If he wants convenience, such as accommodation closer to his place of work, then he should have it.

    Let’s not pretend that the chump change (relatively speaking) we spend on these types of things is not going to be the difference between deficit and surplus. The cars, the hotels, the business trips… they pale in comparison to the handouts we vote for ourselves.

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  17. Viking2 (11,280 comments) says:

    More important question. Why are we paying Mc cully at all. What a botch at MFAT.

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  18. insider (1,030 comments) says:

    Re the nrt retraction -don’t hold your breath

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  19. pq (728 comments) says:

    it is worth knowing that the idiot savant is also an idiot

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  20. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    What kind of broke ass down and out scumbag bludger uses public transport…?

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  21. dime (9,667 comments) says:

    toad – quite the troll nowadays aint ya

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  22. Steve (North Shore) (4,522 comments) says:

    ‘I wonder if Idiot Savant (a prposterous wanker) has ever attempted the drive from Torbay to Auckland CBD between 0630 and 0900?’

    It can take much longer than that if there is a hic-cup (say a bridge prang or RWC traffic) But it will never happen again, Len has it under control

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  23. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    I use public transport, and have seen at least one Cabinet Ministers use it regularly too.

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  24. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    The Scorned (250) Says:

    May 17th, 2012 at 8:07 pm
    What kind of broke ass down and out scumbag bludger uses public transport…?

    .
    .
    .Steve (North Shore) (2,435) Says:
    May 17th, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    (a pr(e)posterous wanker)
    .
    .
    .
    mikenmild (4,032) Says:
    May 17th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I use public transport

    Oh yea We live in a universe of perfect symmetry

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  25. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Do you use public transport too, Paul?

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  26. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    In New Zealand the last time was 1988 and after travelling on a bus from Wanaka to Timaru and enduring 83 million stops at every road house, shit house and gateway along the way I swore I would walk rather than ever use public transport again.

    And that was the last time I used a bus or train. If I can’t afford a taxi a plane or a rental car I don’t go

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  27. gump (1,553 comments) says:

    DPF – please stop repeating the untruth that the RWC had an audience of one billion people.

    It didn’t and it’s unsettling that someone who usually treats such statistics critically is presenting it as fact.

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  28. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    Toad – You mean that ‘other people’ should use public transport so roads are less congested so Green MP’s and councillors can reach their destinations quicker in their cars. Presumably in due course ‘other people’ in the Manawatu when travelling overseas should drive to Waikanae, take the train to Wellington, lug baggage around, take light rail to airport and board flight.

    Presumably in due course special permits will be issued to MP’s, councillors (including Green ones) and their cronies to exempt them from public transport.

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  29. burt (8,034 comments) says:

    peterwn

    The answer seems simple. MPs could just use the bus lanes in their ministerial chauffeur driven vehicles.

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  30. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    Burt, I don’t see the problem. Ministerial chauffeur driven vehicles are just expensive taxis owned by the government. Taxis are public transport. Taxis can use bus lanes. Therefore so can Ministerial chauffeur driven vehicles.

    In other words, your statement is self evidently already true.

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  31. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    If it’s a vaguely planned trip I sometimes take the bus because it’s easier than parking in wellington, but I can’t imagine using it to get to an appointment at a set time, you have to take the bus two earlier than the one you want, to be sure that one of the three will actually turn up. No thanks.

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  32. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Yes, there is no chance of an accident on the motorway, for example, making you late for that appointment, is there?

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  33. flipper (3,847 comments) says:

    PaulL
    Agree with your sentiments. But think it thru.
    Tabby Herald (and TV3) would have a “shock, horror probe” into Ministerial abuse of bus lanes.

    Frankly, I believe bus lanes are a crock.
    Buses do not pay a higher fuel or road taxes than other vehicles so they should receive no preference.

    If you dont like traffic chaos, live and work somewhere where there is none – or stump up with the money (via Auckland rates? But think about the cost of housing!) to extend Red Len’s underground wet dream to the whole of the Auckland region. Raspberry !

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  34. david (2,554 comments) says:

    Would’t hold my breath waiting for any sort of retraction from I/S. His analysis is generally about as deep as a car-park puddle and his unwillingness to expose himself to debate is indicative of a severe paranoid personality disorder.

    Best to ignore him as even the exposure of his bleating to the real facts is feeding his self-absorbtion with oxygen it doesn’t deserve.

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  35. backster (2,123 comments) says:

    TOAD That long haired rastafarian green MP used to demonstrate the Green Vision of Public Transport with his skateboard but you chucked him out so either he or the party bosses must have had a flash of reality.

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  36. Elaycee (4,332 comments) says:

    “Having made inquiries, it turns out that in fact the two nights at the Heritage was for a Wellington based staff member who was in Auckland for RWC duties. So I look forward to NRT doing a retraction.”

    You’d get better odds looking for a pterodactyl flying down Queen Street / Winston saying something accurate and relevant / Luc Hansen writing a balanced piece about the terrorist group Hamas.

    Don’t hold your breath…

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  37. Paulus (2,565 comments) says:

    I thought it was a Wellington staffer not the Minister ?
    A lot of inconsequential bullshit above.
    Facts please – or is that too difficult or does not suit the story.

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  38. willb (10 comments) says:

    Valid rebuttal by DPF on that point, but conveniently he has of course overlooked the Au$175 bottle of Chardonnay that McCully (or his staff) had bought using taxpayer dollars. A small amount of money in isolation of course, but I’m sure it’s done far too often, and the principle there is important. There is simply no justification whatsoever for that amount of taxpayer money to be spent on wine.
    I think that given National are constantly hammering into the New Zealand public that we’re in some economic times, that money is so tight, and that every bit of spending is getting reviewed, the absolute least we could see is that the only wine consumed on taxpayer money during these dinners would be a house red or white, or better still none at all. Otherwise they just look like damned hypocrites.

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