Little things are the big things

A reading often used at wedding includes the line: the little things are the big things.

That is at least as applicable to politics as marriage.

A pair of underpants played a major role in Tuku Morgan’s undoing and a couple of bottles of wine led Phil Heatley to resign.

Yet Phillip Field hung on for months in the face of charges which eventually led to his conviction for corruption and Winston Peters clung on to the baubles of power with major questions over his behaviour and trustworthiness.

One reason that there’s been swifter action over something relatively trivial is that this is a different person and this is a different administration with different standards.

But why do little things become big things?

Perhaps because everyone can relate to little things, our own lives are full of them.

That’s one of the reasons the media focuses on what might seem to be very minor matters while giving at best cursory attention to major ones.

But little things are silly things. While never condoning major wrong doing we might understand how someone thought a big gain was worth the risk, but why bother for something trivial?

I’m pleased the Auditor General has been asked to examine all the spending.

I hope that regardless of what he finds she is able to make recommendations which ensure that misuse of credit cards, by ministers, their staff or anyone else in the public service is picked up immediately if it happens and repayment demanded.

It’s no use having rules if the people charged with applying them don’t do so without fear or favour.

Ministers should know the rules and keep them. But the system should provide a backstop should they get something wrong.

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