It’s about character

The glovebox in the stock agent’s car was full of petrol vouchers.

The friend who saw them there asked why so many. The agent without a blush said, he’d bought them on the company petrol card.

Misuse of cards isn’t confined to ministers and Michelle Boag has just made a very good point on Q&A – it comes down to character.

Some people are mean and will claim every cent to which they are entitled and more, others won’t claim anything, most will err on the side of caution when making legitimate claims.

Some people have left comments wondering about Helen Clark and Heather Simpson. Any regular reader will know that I am not a fan of either of them but I will be very surprised if there is anything untoward on their cards. Labour under Clark was very good at spending taxpayers’ money on policies to help other people who may or may not have needed it, but she was not personally extravagant.

The only thing that’s been commented on her card so far is a $19 pair of gumboots. That’s very cheap, the last pair I bought cost around $100.

People who misused their cards deserve the opprobrium being heaped on them but it wasn’t every minister who did and some of the expenses being queried are legitimate.

If people are running the country and travelling the world as part of their duties we can’t expect them to stay in backpackers and eat at street stalls.

I might also accept them putting everything on the minsiterial card and including a cheque for personal expenses when they sent receipts.

But given some can’t be trusted it would be better to leave them to pay on their own cards then claim back legitimate expenses.

8 Responses to It’s about character

  1. Fredinthegrass says:

    “But given some of them can’t be trusted……” – I agree entirely Hp.
    It may be a bit of a hassle, and smacks of a pet ‘hate’ – lowest common denominator – as it tends to lump the honest minister in with those who do not ,or cannot resist the urge to cheat, but imho it is the way to go.
    After all are they not elected by us to lead and show us the way!!!!????

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  2. leftrightout says:

    I know what you mean. Where I work there are two employees, who if the company went broke, would be fighting over the fifty cents in the petty cash tin while the rest of us packed our desks and sought other work…

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  3. Deborah says:

    I might also accept them putting everything on the minsiterial card and including a cheque for personal expenses when they sent receipts.

    Maybe. Except that it’s actually easier and less expensive to process (i.e costs the taxpayer less!) to just split it out at the hotel desk, rather than reconcile it later from receipts.

    Regarding Helen Clark’s gumboots – I thought I read somewhere that they were bought in a hurry when she was visiting a flood stricken area. That is, they were entirely legitimate.

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  4. homepaddock says:

    Deborah – I have no doubt the gumboots were a legitimate purchase and nobody could say that a $19 pair was in anyway extravagant.

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  5. JC says:

    HP. Unsaid in all this welter of words is the concept of “value for money”.

    When Tim Grosser has a drink on the Queen he’s either cementing or celebrating another $100 million in trade deals.. and if someone suggested paying Goff and Clark $1 million for the China FTA I’d be OK with that because China has helped pull us through this recession.

    Nobody on the right gives a Goddamn about valuable Ministers putting peanuts on the Card.. its those essentially useless buggers who oppose the likes of tax cuts but make sure they fill their own boots under the table as a matter of “entitlement” that raise the hackles.

    JC

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  6. Gravedodger says:

    What do they have in their wallets?
    With the salaries,that I would describe as generous for the many who, but for their good fortune in getting a job in our highest court of our land and compared to what they would command in their previous employment, expenses that are also generous and hidden from scrutiny by OIA requests and in the case of ministers an even higher salary and expense regime I humbly suggest provide more than adequate resources to personally pay for all the so far revealed credit card misuse. I don’t believe they do not have other cards in their wallets. Hell as a pensioner I carry at all times, two cash cards and two credit cards one of which doubles as a cash card.
    It is not the contents of wallets we are looking at, it is their psyche, their moral compass, their perception of their self importance and responsibility to us, their employers and who elevate them to the point where they hold enormous power over us.
    Jones seemed to consider that his spending was entitled and he assumed would never be exposed whereas Carter, Cosgrove and particularly Anderton didn’t appear to be at all dismayed at the exposure of behavior that to the many who operate in the real world would see as behavior that would in all probability lead to their sacking. In the elevated air that these people operate in, entitlement is the driving motivation. Anderton’s response to questions on his spending is monumentally stupendous, he seems to fit the quote “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” as his massive ego and self aggrandizement seams Utterly arrogant.
    Len Brown Mayor of Manakau City and it appears the, so far, anointed candidate of the Labour party for the newly created super city mayoralty, is another who seems to have what could be described as a cavalier attitude to his ratepayer funded card and that has just got a lot murkier with a revelation of attempts by a person unknown trying to get altered documentation of a restaurant bill of some $800 to remove any mention of beverage.
    While I accept that parties of the right have some bad apples, it seems to be a bigger problem for those of the left and I wonder if that follows on from the dearth among their ranks of people who have made a successful life in the real world, before their elevation to a place at the trough, that is more rigorously audited and controlled with more importance attached to a philosophy of basic honesty and compliance with rules.
    While I Accept a degree of pilfering and some petty fraud is to be expected as the moral compass of society seems to always be eroding I cannot accept that these people who are purportedly our nations leaders can avoid being held to a very high standard and any fall from grace should have appropriate consequences. Jones and Carter should leave the Parliament now.

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  7. pdm says:

    No one has mentioned Cullen – is he squeaky clean do you think?

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  8. JC says:

    “No one has mentioned Cullen – is he squeaky clean do you think?”

    I’d be surprised if he wasn’t. Like Clark he’s relatively old school, brought up on the Public Service “please explain” ethos.

    JC

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