There is a pattern in the way John Key and his office deal with revelations about how they are spending taxpayers money on themselves while telling everyone else they need to stomach cutbacks. When it was first revealed that John Key had splashed out on new carpet and painting for his prime ministerial residence, the initial reaction of his office was to deny all knowledge.
Then they reveal that they did know about it, defend it saying it’s no big deal, and accuse those answering questions of muck-raking or focusing on the small stuff. But if you keep asking questions, it usually turns out that they knew exactly what was going on and in fact they were up to their eyeballs in it.
Answers that have just come back to written parliamentary questions reveal that not only did Key know about the painting of Premier House, he made them change the proposed colour scheme.
A pattern is also emerging that shows how sloppy this government are when it comes to the way they spend money on themselves. Key stated in his most recent answers that the decision to re-carpet Premier House was made in late-2009. If that’s the case, Key should have included it in Estimates information provided to the Select Committee following the Budget. He didn’t.
At best that’s sloppy management on Key’s part (he signs off the answers to the Select Committee), at worst it suggests they’re deliberately trying to fudge the amount they spend on themselves. Either way it’s pretty clear that Key’s “aggressive” line-by-line review of government spending doesn’t apply to his own spending. There’s a word for that.
It was a similar situation with the BMWs. First Key claimed he hadn’t been told, then it turned out his Chief of Staff was fully briefed and two of his Ministers had signed the deal off. A bit odd that Key would take an active interest in something as small as a new paint job for Premier House but not know about a multi-million dollar car purchase. And let’s not forget that Bill English only paid back the housing allowance because he got found out.