Another headline vs substance

Note that when I highlight these, it is generally not the journalist who writes the headline.

The headline:

Brash blows fees budget

The substance:

The controversial 2025 Task Force – which recommended slashing government spending – blew its entire three-year budget for chairman Don Brash’s meeting fees in just one year.

Dr Brash was paid $1200 a day to chair the commission, and the Government expected to pay him for eight full days of meetings and preparation in 2009-10 and four days for the following two years.

But documents made public by Treasury show Dr Brash received $39,450 in the first year – four times the amount earmarked for his first year on the taskforce.

Other members, who were paid $1000 a day, received $34,000 – $2000 above the estimated budget for 10 meetings.

The task force came in under budget, however, because it did not spend as much as anticipated on outside experts – out of a $100,000 budget just $18,913 was spent.

Dr Brash said the cost of his fees reflected the fact that he was working “close to fulltime” on the 2025 report. “I certainly worked a lot more than 10 days … working with the author, working through drafts etc.”

So in fact the taskforce under-spent by around $50,000 but that isn’t as good a headline. Neither is a headline about how Don saved the taxpayer money by doing more of the work himself, rather than engaging external parties.

Incidentally an hourly rate of $150 is massively cheap for a former Reserve Bank Governor. Hell junior lawyers get charged out at more than that.

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