Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ministerial expenses

So, right after the failure of the Meridian share offer, the government has dumped its Ministerial expenses. Highlights:

  • Maurice Williamson's [p 9] $137.50 three-course dinner for one in Dunedin, including a full bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. I guess it just gets lonely down there...
  • John Key [p 13] spent $110 on very expensive skin-care products, tagged as "NZ skin care for protocol officer". Was it a gift? Because if it wasn't, it seems extravagant. Not to mention odd.
  • Jonathan Coleman's [p 9] $1500 a night stay at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore (his private secretary was exiled to the servant's quarters at a mere $500 a night). I expect Ministers to stay somewhere reasonable when they travel, but this is simply insane; even the Prime Minister only gets a $500 / night room when he travels. There's also the $93 lunch bill, which doesn't include his minion because they billed for two lunches of their own on the same day.
  • Murray McCully's boozing. ~$50 on "room service wine" in Cairo. A dinner in Singapore (itemised on his hotel bill) which spent ~NZ$165 on food and ~NZ$135 on beverages. A ~NZ$400 diner in PNG with another ~NZ$280 on booze (classified as "accommodation and meals for MFA and 2 P/S"). A similar pattern in Port Vila, with ~NZ$150 on food, and ~NZ$120 on booze. I don't begrudge a Minister a glas sof wine with their meal, but when its that proprortion of a large dinner bill, it looks like a habit. He's also in the luxury hotel scam, paying ~NZ$1250 for a night in the Grand Papua in Port Moresby.
  • And then there's Tim Groser. What we have from him is bad enough - foie gras on the taxpayer (so he's the Minister of Animal Cruelty), obviously different minibar expenses hand-labelled "mineral water", and Heinekin with everything. But it's what we don't have that's interesting. Oddly, every time Minister Groser has an expensive meal somewhere, he loses the detailed receipt, and only keeps the till receipt with the costs (which are inevitably over NZ$100 a head). He also misreports trips to posh Parisian restaurants where he spends hundreds of Euro of taxpayers money as "refreshments". No, Tim - "refreshments" is when you go to Starbucks, or buy a coke, or even buy green olives, hummus and (of course) a Heinekin for (presumably) a snacky lunch in the sun. When you spend 250 Euro at a sit-down place at 10pm, its called a "meal", and you give us a fucking full receipt so we can see whether we are getting value for our money, or whether you're just having a giant piss-up at our expense.

This is how National spends your money. You can judge at the ballot box whether its a good investment.