Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Earning that reputation XIII

In the real world, employees who make dubious expenses claims are disciplined or sacked. But in Parliament, Parliamentary services covers it up for you:

Claudette Hauiti has surrendered her parliamentary charge card after using it to pay for a Christmas trip to Australia.

The trip and other unauthorised spending on the card - known as a purchasing or p-card - led to the list MP returning it to Parliamentary Service in March.

Prime Minister John Key said in 2010 that the Government had "led the charge" on transparency of MPs' spending.

But Parliamentary Service has refused to detail the mis-spending on Hauiti's card or supply a total.

It also took more than a week for the National party to return calls.

(Naturally, Hauiti went throught he usual phases of lying, then claiming it was all too complicated, then blaming her underlings, within the space of four paragraphs. I think we can conclude from that where the real problem lies).

This is a prime example of why we need more transparency around MP's expenses. As we've seen with Ministers, people who are watched pay attention to their spending, and ensure that it can be justified. We don't see MPs putting their porn and pissups on the taxpayer's tab anymore, because they know that if they do, it will be on the front page of the Herald in three months time. Systems matter.

MPs complain that the public see them as greedy, grasping pricks. Their continued and ongoing refusal to do anything about this is why. Its perfectly within their power to impose a solution, both institutionally, and privately (in that they can practice transparency over their own spending, to force other MPs to follow their example). But somehow, they never do. This ongoing failure is something we can and should and do hold them collectively responsible for.