This week I read an interesting story about the price of the hotel rooms where various world leaders were staying during the G20 summit in Brisbane. By "interesting," I mean not interesting in the slightest, of course.

The brief news item which held a lofty position on the NZ Herald's online home page plumbed the depths of investigative journalism to reveal some heads of state spent rather a lot on accommodation, some spent not much at all and the vast majority spent a middling amount entirely commensurate with their need for tight security and a good night's sleep before attempting to fix the world.

It really was a remarkable insight into what is considered newsworthy, particularly given I couldn't see any story about the global issues of war and poverty doubtless being addressed by the world's leaders between sleeping on satin sheets.

Cutting down tall poppies has always been a bit of a disappointing Kiwi trait, although its origins are nobly rooted in an egalitarian principle forged by hardy souls who rejected the social strata of colonial Britain to carve out a life of meritocracy in the New World.


But what many people in the "new" New Zealand seem to have forgotten since their forebears applied blood, sweat and tears to tame a wild landscape and secure their quarter-acre block, is that while we should always strive to give everyone equal opportunities, we shouldn't condemn those whose hard work may make them a little more equal than others.

Surely if anyone has earned a night at the Hilton's best digs, it's the person who has surrendered a life of privacy, personal safety and (in the case of many world leaders including our own) the pursuit of significant personal wealth to pursue the politics and power to try to make the world a better place.

Of course, that depends on whether you believe politicians are motivated by altruism or egotism. There is probably an even mixture of both.

Either way, I'm never going to win a popularity contest by championing politicians, so I'll move back to my point, which is that surely we can accept they will stay in some of the best hotels while on business because they've earned that right by being the leaders of their lands (with the odd exception for oligarch despots whose hotel bills are paid for by the backbreaking labours of the downtrodden citizens they exploit).

Chances are many of those 500-thread-count sheets never get slept on because the life of a world leader sees them spend more hours sitting at a desk growing grey hairs than benefiting from the turn-down service.

CEO salaries also seem to be the go-to topic lately for journalists with no real news to chase.

I agree with the general theme that some of them seem to be paid an indecent amount of money, but in turn they are expected to shoulder an indecent amount of stress and responsibility.

This responsibility doesn't end at 5pm on Friday and it sees them sacrifice a life with family and friends that you just can't put a dollar value on.


In a perfect world, we'd all have pockets full of cash and five-star our way through life. But in that perfect world we'd also all have the motivation, talent and opportunity to put ourselves in that position, and the commitment to self-sacrifice required to achieve it.

Personally, I'm quite happy to work hard, but not too hard, and as a result earn a good income, but not too good.

If there are those out there prepared to do more than that, good on them.

They deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour. But it's not breaking news to me.

-Eva Bradley is an award-winning journalist