If you ever want a lesson in the simple reality of spending other people's money, have a listen to our interview with the Prime Minister yesterday over her hiring of an ad agency in New York to follow her around and film her and take photos.

A few things are at play here: One, this has not got the sort of coverage in wider media you would expect, why not? Is the media in general still enamoured with Jacinda Ardern and therefore failing to do their job as diligently as they might?

Two, she doesn't know what the bill is. Why not? It's being paid for by her budget, the leader's budget.


Three, it's being paid for by the taxpayer given the leader's budget is taxpayer-funded.

Four, it might well be against the rules.

Five, the advertising agency they hired might or might not have been a donor to the party. I say donor because it could be a straight out donation, or work done in lieu of a donation at a cut rate - Ardern didn't know that either.

Now this is an issue that yet again has the potential to bog her down. She initially claimed it was all above board given it came from her leader's budget.

The inference being that, as long as that was the budget being used, we, the taxpayer didn't need to worry about it. Despite the fact we fund it and as such, that makes it no different from any other budget we fund.

There is the question mark over the agency, when a government spends money an open market is required, not old party favourites being handed easy work.

National claims it's against the rules, they don't cite which rules. That needs to be cleared up as well, it's either against the rules or it isn't.

Ardern claims other prime ministers have taken staff to photograph them. That may or may not be the case, my understanding is that it was a person travelling with the prime minister, in other words a person already there has been doing the photographing.


No leader takes a photographer specifically and exclusively for the job of taking pictures, and if they did we should have known about it.

Now here's where this is also an issue, Ardern, if you listen to the interview was pedalling furiously. She didn't know, she wasn't sure. It was no different to other trips, as far as she knew, as far as she had been told. Some media got to use the footage, almost as though she was doing them a favour.

Could this be another scenario, a Whaitiri, a Curran, a Handley whereby we are about to get, whether through further questioning on shows like this, questions in Parliament, a level of detail we should have got yesterday.

In other words yesterday was her chance to clear the decks, explain fully and come clean. Because what this looks like is self-aggrandisement at our expense.

It's a political glamour shoot, it's style over substance with us footing the bill. It's electioneering, especially if it turns up in the election.

It's a lot of questions, all of which could have been, should have been sorted but haven't, why?

Watch this space.