Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Maybe Brownlee should have asked?

When Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee appointed his former boss Jenny Shipley to the CERA advisory board and paid her triple the normal rate, he claimed that it was because she and her fellow board members would not work for less. But John Hansen, the board's chair, has shown Brownlee to be a liar:

The number of days they will be required to work is unclear, however Sir John Hansen told ONE News this afternoon that so far he had worked "hours" rather than days and had not put in an invoice.

He said when he was asked to be on the panel he didn't ask what the remuneration was as he believed the job was "an important public service".

(Emphasis added)

On the one hand, we shouldn't exploit people's sense of public duty to get them to do this sort of work; people should be paid properly for what they do. But that's what the standard fees framework does, and its not as if $360 - $655 (or $270 - $415 for ordinary members) is chump change. And it invites an obvious question: why exactly did Brownlee think the appointees wouldn't work for "mere" government rates? Did a self-important someone demand more money? Sadly, no documentary evidence on this has been released, and none was mentioned in Brownlee's cover letter [PDF]. Which leads to two possible conclusions: either Brownlee unlawfully withheld material from me, or he lied to Tony Ryall and to Cabinet about the amount of money people were expecting. Neither is a particularly pleasant thought.