Just another leader – perks and all

Sorry to be banging on again about the Hide matter.

But Alf sat in the Eketahuna Club last night wondering what a self-appointed perk-buster should expect, when his taxpaying admirers learn he has used his travel entitlements to have his girlfriend accompany him on his travels.

Won’t they be bloody pissed off and keen to let him know how they feel about his hypocrisy?

Some of that disappointment will be apt to turn to abuse.

And sure enough, NZPA tells us –

ACT leader Rodney Hide says he has been abused in the street for using taxpayer-funded perks to pay for his girlfriend’s travel.

Mr Hide, who early in his political career styled himself as a perk-buster highlighting what he considered extravagant spending by MPs, spent $25,163 on air travel for girlfriend Louise Crome. His own air travel cost $26,872.

The revelation last week came in the second release of MP’s expenses for the July 1-September 30 period.

Since the story broke Hide has been verbally abused in the street, and his parents, Ms Crome and her parents have been contacted by journalists, he told the Sunday Star-Times.

“It’s not their decision, it’s my responsibility, and it just puts a big strain on everything. You feel bad about upsetting your family members. My poor mother is beside herself.”

Mr Hide said he was trying to hold his new relationship together.

“You are very busy as a minister. I hardly see the young lady and it’s pretty tough. I had the opportunity for this trip and I wanted to do it…”

Mr Hide said taking Ms Crome on the trip cost about $5000 and remainder was largely domestic travel.

Mr Hide said he disagreed with the perk but would continue to use it as the perks were provided instead of higher salaries.

Yep, we all know about the PM telling his ministers they should pay for their partners themselves if they wanted to take them on official trips because of belt-tightening.

However, Mr Hide paid for his partner’s travel using MP’s allowances, which Mr Key has no control over, rather than as a minister.

He was not the only one to get around the directive.

The Dominion Post has reported that United Future leader Peter Dunne, also Revenue Minister, paid for his wife to travel to Europe with him in June — costing about $12,000.

Mr Dunne said he was entitled to use his MP allowance to pay for his wife and it had been cleared with the ninth floor.

Agriculture Minister David Carter also took his wife to Europe with him, the taxpayer picking up the bill.

But Dunne and Carter won’t cop the same flak as Hide because they never presented themselves as perk-busters. And they did not travel with a new girlfriend.

The big problem for Hide is that he actually admits he opposes perks in principle but won’t eschew them in practice. He won’t be a martyr, he persists in telling us.

Fair to say, this should have come as no great surprise.

When he became leader of ACT in 2004, TVNZ reported –

The new leader will have to heal the divisions caused during the race and start adapting to what he promises will be a change in style from perk-buster to leader.

Looks like he has done just that and become just another political leader.

One Response to Just another leader – perks and all

  1. Pique Oil says:

    Alf there is nothing surprising in this event. It was always a matter of “when rather than if” rodney’s new suit was found to be cut from the same cloth as all the other slimy critters.
    What is interesting is the way diehard supporters are attempting to justify it.

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