Let political miscreants go quietly into the night.
God knows what the eventual price of the Taito Phillip Field saga will be.
The disgraced former MP may not have used legal aid to defend himself against corruption charges but the cost to the taxpayer of mounting a five-month trial and defending the subsequent appeal will have been considerable.
Now the Supreme Court has granted Field leave to appeal again, albeit on narrow grounds. Is justice worth the price when you consider he's nearly served a third of his six-year sentence and will be up for parole next year?
Justice might be served better, or at least cheaper, if the Government's lawyers used their rat cunning to delay proceedings until Field is eligible, and then simply let the old bugger go.
It makes me pine for that kinder, gentler age when serious issues of political corruption were dealt with quietly and efficiently.
Back in the day, according to some Tory toffs, you simply supplied a bottle of Scotch and a gun to the miscreant and off he went into the night. Done and dusted with minimum fuss and little expense.
These days, party bosses skimp on the Scotch and only provide a metaphorical gun to malcontents. No wonder it ends badly, as we saw when Labour's Chris Carter went postal. All for want of a $75 bottle of single malt, for shame.
Contrast Carter's departure with that of passport forger and Act MP David Garrett. He committed Crimes Act offences, like Field, but went quietly into the night.
It was the best $75 his boss, Rodney Hide, ever spent.
Unlike the thousands of taxpayer dollars Hide misspent courting his missus overseas. The difference is, unlike Field, Hide admitted his wrongdoing and repented. An apology goes a long way in politics.
But Field is entitled to feel miffed at his present straits, particularly compared with Hide's.
There is a moral equivalency about the behaviour of both men when you boil each offence down to its constituent parts.
Hide believed he was entitled to spend taxpayer money to faff about offshore with his then girlfriend. Field thought it was appropriate to get a bloke to paint the house in return for sorting out the poor wretch's immigration status.
The latter is corruption; the former a taxpayer rort. One man broke the criminal code and the other proved untrustworthy with public money. Both men broke the code of trust with voters and also seem to lack a moral compass. But, crucially, Hide possesses a Darwinian survival instinct that Field lacks.
He atoned, whereas Field insisted he had done nothing wrong. Field also lied and it was his undoing. But this does not make him a worse man than Hide. After all, Hide also knew about Garrett's passport forgery and stayed silent.
Field does deserve to be in jail for breaking the law and the poll punishment Act took seems an appropriate penalty for Hide. But I just can't see a moral difference between rorting the taxpayer and getting a bloke to make home improvements in return for residency. Both men did wrong.
Hide still isn't off the hook by admitting his sins. The media pulpit isn't confession and the electorate ain't the Pope - it's the Almighty. Hide pays for it in this life by ballot box - an appropriate judgment for such a political animal.
When Hide's time comes, I hope he goes quietly into the night. It would be considerably cheaper than Field's expensive farewell from public service.