A bit left of centre you’ll find a feller who is trying to flush out how Steffan Browning earns his keep

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Alf took umbrage yesterday at a Stuff political hack’s focus on the fall of two former ministers, Crusher Collins and Maurice Williamson, to the bottom of the party pecking order.

Trouble was, this hack also saw fit to disclose their pay and perk entitlements.

This was discomforting for the Member for Eketahuna North because it was apt to give his constituents a pretty good idea of his earnings.

But today is another day and – hey – there has been a change of heart.

That’s because Alf has been familiarising himself with a new blog, Slightly Left of Centre, operated by a feisty  bugger by name of Josh Foreman.

This Foreman feller questioned the Greens about what Steffan Browning has done to earn his keep.

The Greenie tossers seem to have been lost for words because they didn’t  respond so Foreman has banged out a press statement headed Browning Must Come Clean.

“Green MP Steffan Browning needs to remove his proverbial snout from the taxpayer provided trough and explain his incredible spending on travel and accommodation,” says Josh Forman of slightlyleftofcentre.co.nz

Mr Forman says Mr Browning needs to explain what he has achieved for the people of NZ with his $166,369 of spending between October 2012 and September 2014, because from the information available to the public, it appears that Mr Browning has achieved very little in his public.

“Steffan Browning seems to spend a lot of time jetting around the place. Has he actually achieved anything for the public? He seems to be a very expensive example of a backbench seat warmer.”

Neither the Green Party, it co-leaders or Mr Browning himself responded to requests from slightlyleftofcentre.co.nz for comment.

The Greens probably can’t muster enough words to make  a decent case in favour of Browning – or any of their number, come to think of it. And so they have remained silent.

But it could be they were miffed at what Foreman has said on his blog about Green snouts in the trough.

Foreman said he had done about half an hour worth of reading and concluded

…it would appear that the Green Party has something of a naughty little pig in its caucus.

Foreman reminded his readers that  Green Party Co-Leader Meteria Turei is now the sponsor of the Feed the Kids bill that Hone wrote.

Then he pointed out he had received no responses to requests for comment about his troughing observations from either the co-leader, or the Green Party, so he had decided to go ahead and publish his article.

The naughty little piggy with his snout firmly in the trough is number 14 on the list, and is none other than Mr Steffan Browning.

Since he joined parliament Browning appears to have done bugger all for the community. This aside, it is his travel habits that raised my eyebrow.

In the period from 1 October 2012 through 30 September 2014 Mr Browning has spent a grand total of $166,369 on accommodation surface and air travel courtesy of the good ole taxpayer.

There may be a valid reason for all this travel by the 60 year old from Clyde, who now resides in the Marlborough Sounds, who incidentally ran unsuccessfully for the Kaikoura seat at the election, though if there is, neither he, nor his party have bothered to tell me what it is.

You see, if there was a good reason for what appears to be a pretty huge amount of travel considering they guy is based at the top of the South Island, a proverbial stones throw from Wellington. The problem I have is that the from what I can see, not only has Mr Browning done three fifths of stuff all since his election.

Foreman has got a rough idea of Browning’s contribution to the nation’s well-being.

I could be wrong, but it looks as though Dear Old Steffan has asked a total of four questions in parliament. Just by his travel expenses, this works out to be $41,592 per question.

It seems democracy is pretty bloody expensive these days.

Foreman proceed to relate this spending to Turei’s concerns about hungry children.’

 If we take the sum total from above, $166,369, and refer back to Metiria Turei’s recent adoption of the Feed The Kids bill.

A quick fire calculation using countdown.co.nz as a source, I found that Weet-Bix costs $7 per kilo.

If Metiria were to take the amount spent by Steffan Browning on surface and air travel then she would be able to purchase 23,767 kilograms of Weet-Bix to feed the kids.

She would be able to make a practical difference in kids lives with that sort of money. Maybe she could get Fonterra to fund the milk portion of it because if she did, Steffans travel money could provide 792,233 breakfasts worth of Weet-Bix.

Perhaps she will, or perhaps, more likely in my view, the Green Party will continue to pause their slurping from the trough and raised their heads to periodically cry “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING, GOBBLE BOBBLE, SOMEONE FEED THE KIDS, GOBBLE GOBBLE, SOMEONE SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT GOBBLE GOBBLE.”

Foreman has been honest enough to correct something he had earlier written: a dollar figure he had previously quoted as applying from 1 October 2013 when in fact it was from 1 October 2012.

This correction may well affect some of the comments, such as the calculation that Browning spent $455.80 per day EVERY day including weekends and holidays. Alf isn’t going to bother himself double checking the figures if the Greens can’t be bothered replying to questions. 

And the substantive point remains: considering his expenses, when compared with other MP’s,his $ to achievements ratio is open to Foreman’s criticism.

Mind you, someone has pointed out that Simon Bridges could entertain Oil Companies to the tune of $250,000 for the evening “and no one bats an eye”.

But Foreman has won support from Alf’s good mate, the Whale. 

He explained he had decided to help him because:

  • He is not blinkered by what others say, and has bothered to research for himself what it is that I am about.
  • He had the stones to email me and engage directly.
  • He has behaved respectfully and honourably.

We need viable and credible voices on the left, just as much as we need viable and credible opposition parties. It is why I work across the political spectrum helping candidates from many parties. It is my love for a vibrant democracy, where people can share their ideas without the fear of being banned, shouted down or having their income attacked.

Reasoned debate is needed not feral shouting across each other.

Information from the Greens about how Browning has earned his keep would be a nice outcome too.

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