Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ZenTiger MP Standards

Phil Goff has "demoted" the Labour shadow ministers who have misused their Parliamentary Service credit cards. Now they are merely backbencher MPs.

Another way of looking at this though is that the standards have been set for backbencher MPs. And the standards are low.

The good news in this whole affair is the ongoing, and one would hope, relentless, march towards greater transparency in government spending. The democratisation of data is a great thing. It needs to be tempered with context - not all of the expenses were as outrageous as first implied, but there were enough there where exaggeration only gets in the way of truth.

The issue now is seeing if the publishing of such data leads to a change in behaviour. A change in behaviour on things that are small (expenses) may ultimately yield a change in behaviour on things that are big (large scale spending of the public purse with little regard to the public value).

MacDoctor highlights the issues around the rules for spending, and the assessment of effectiveness. There are some solutions to this problem, and again, it will require a change of behaviour. The democratisation of data is a potential enabler to leading a change in behaviour. More on that later.

6 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Zen, a few points.

1. Goff has no power over cabinet ministers, it his shadow ministers he has demoted.

2. Why the need for scare quotes a round demoted? Do you not think this is a demotion?

You claim the "standards are low", but what elese would you have Goff do? He cannot sack an MP.

And the standards, low as you seem to think them, are far higher than those applied by Key to English.

Lucia Maria said...


What did English do that was against the rules, again?

No, wait, he didn't break the rules, he just did something many think is morally repugnant .. he took advantage of loopholes.

If we are going to set a moral standard for our politicians, we'd have none left .. or at the very least, Bill English would survive it and many others would be chucked by the wayside.

I never thought I see you arguing for moral standards, LRO.

ZenTiger said...


Re 1 - Yes, of course. Corrected.

Re 2 - It's not a demotion in the same way that some criminals have got ridiculously low sentences (say 2 years versus 15) for violent crime. I point out those cases from time to time in blog posts.

Re 3 - The standards are low. The fact Goff cannot sack them over this reinforces the standards are low. I don't blame Goff though, if that's what you are implying.

Re Key - He gets credit for exposing the detail to sunlight. He gets demerits for not investigating and taking some action on his own Ministers who have abused credit cards. Not sure if the level of offending between National and others is the same, but happy to agree where you can point it out.

Anonymous said...

I never thought I see you arguing for moral standards, LRO.

Why? Morals are not the exclusive preserve of the religiously deluded, you know. In fact, it is far easier to be a moral agent when religion is not present in the decision making process, just as it is far better to live life to the full, knowing that this is all we get.

Ciaron said...

If this is all we get, then morals don't really matter, do they?

Francisco Castelo Branco said...

Just a little remember of your football team

here´s the link http://olhardireito.blogspot.com/2010/06/kiwis-made-history.html

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