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The Press- News column Oct 29

Spongers at Council.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel has hit the ground running with a wave of pleasingly populist, but entirely sound decisions.  Appointing Vicki Buck her deputy, and declaring war on cavalier council expenditure strikes the right notes. Perhaps Dalziel, who was raised a Catholic, has been channelling the refreshing frugality of Pope Francis, who wants  the Vatican to behave like a poor church and his priests to be stripped of all princely pretences. ( Exhibit A, the defrocked Bishop of Limburg.)  I’m sure most people aren’t terribly shocked by the city council credit card spending revelations, intrepidly exposed by Glenn Conway in the Weekend Press. But I’m still incensed. Deeply incensed that ratepayers are being rogered by faceless bureaucrats who fritter away public money on personal fripperies and workmate fancies, whether it be skinny soy lattes, celebratory gifts for staff giving birth, the obligatory booze-up that lubricates the launch of a council initiative, and the $1000 bar tabs for staff quiz nights. ( As an aside, why are so many council shin-digs held at Elevate Bar? )It’s all very well to cover the hospitality tab for visiting dignitaries like the Adelaide Mayor, but replenishing the staff lolly jar on the public tit? Slap me now. Issuing 450 senior council staff with purchasing credit cards was a lavish invitation for trouble. But what about the noddies in charge of monitoring? Why were they asleep at the wheel, as the spending breaches ran riot? Were they too busy organising their own staff piss-up? Like gannets in a gut truck, hundreds of coffees have been improperly purchased. That is not just mass misuse, but theft. The recidivist abusers should be fired. ( Without a farewell gift, please.) The real damage from this P-card binge  is reputational. Because the only conclusion to be drawn is that the council’s senior ranks are racked by free-loading, fiddling spongers who have little regard for the public purse. They have spectacularly driven another stake through the heart of trust in council.

Sum insured.

Have you checked your home insurance cover lately? With replacement now based on sum insured, what default sum has your insurer applied to your policy?  Remarkably, only 10% of Kiwis have adjusted the sum insured from its default setting.  In my case, the insurer’s default sum was nearly $200,000 under-cooked.  Getting it changed was effortless, and surprisingly my monthly premium has only increased by six dollars. By the way, some insurers have itemised their cover schedule in such a manner, that it’s confusing whether the $100,000 EQC coverage is additional or inclusive of the insurer’s default sum. Make sure you check your home is fully covered.

Mike Yardley’s weekly current affairs column in the Press. First published in October 29.


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