Not pricey

The Herald reports:

boss John Whitehead took and International Monetary Fund officials out for pricey dinners just a few months after State Service Commissioner Iain Rennie warned top public servants against doing just that.

Dr Whitehead’s credit card expenses were published this week and show that last month he spent $292 on dinner for three at Wellington waterfront eatery Foxglove with executive director Jim Hagan.

I’m sorry but this is almost embarrassing. I’m all for responsible use of credit cards, but a story about spending $95/head at dinner entertaining the Executive Director of the is ridicolous.

Foxglove is a medium priced restaurant. Far from the most expensive. Should we take the Executive Director to Uncle Chang’s instead?

Or alternatively have him out for dinner, and then when you get to desserts, tell him “I’m sorry but NZ is so poor, we can’t pay for dessert”.

$95 doesn’t mean there were bottles of expensive drunk. $20 for an entree, $40 for a man and $15 for a dessert is $75 so  arguably they had one bottle of $60 wine. I doubt the executive Dinner is going to regale colleagues in Washington about the awesome night out in Wellington – yeah we had five courses, two bottles of port plus a couple of strippers – all for $95 – it was better than Vegas.

It is good to have scrutiny of public sector spending. In fact I support having all Government payments listed online. But I don’t regard $95/head for the Executive Director of the as inappropriate or even newsworthy.

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