Right now I’m not a big fan of George Brandis. I reckon he is soft on free speech – but I’m happy to be pleasantly surprised. He may grow on me by repealing s18c in toto – with no replacement – and sacking the so-called Human Rights Commission but I’m not holding my breath.
In the meantime Brandis has been in the news for all the wrong reasons – spending taxpayer money to attend weddings and buying books.
So here are my thoughts: We should pay our politicians in cash. No “entitlements”, no silly-buggers, just cash. That means that they would have to be paid a lot more than at present but that would eliminate all the nonsense that currently goes on. I would also privatise the Comcar stuff. Let politicians drive themselves or catch taxis like everyone else.
Next thing – when I read the $13,000 library story this morning I thought “Is that all?”. $13,000 would buy a very small library if you’re buying non-fiction and/or professional material. Law books and law reports tend to be expensive. So assuming a good non-fiction book costs a mere $50 – that implies just (13,000/50) 260 books. Call yourself a reader George – for shame. I threw away more than that in my last office move. Mind you, shame on anyone making a fuss – they clearly don’t know what it takes to build up a decent library.
So now: how do I reconcile my views about Brandis going to a wedding on the taxpayer dime and building up a library? Well as Brandis points out , he is expected to be up-to-date and knowledgeable on many topics. Buying and reading books is part of his job and as such would expect that either his employer would buy the books or if not that he buys the books and claims them as a tax deduction on his income. Given my position that politicians should be paid in cash only I would prefer the latter but ultimately the taxpayer either through entitlement or via the cash salary (and tax-deductibility of work expenses) would be paying for the books.
What else is going on? Brandis is being targeted by someone. Going to weddings on the taxpayer dime isn’t smart but that doesn’t change the fact that somebody somewhere is trying him on. Last weeks someone was backgrounding against Peta Credlin. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. Irrespective of the demerits of expecting others to pay for your wedding attendances, the new government needs to run a tight ship – no indiscipline, no leaking, no tolerance for those who do.