Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Stratford theory of numbers confirmed

Cactus Kate comments on the hoo-ha about Rodney Hide taking his girlfriend on overseas trips. The original Herald story begins:
Former perkbuster Rodney Hide has used his MP’s travel privileges to take his girlfriend on an overseas tour, leaving the taxpayer with a $25,163 bill for her flights.
The parliamentary data disclosing members’ expenses is here.

The numerate Cactus Kate fisks:
But isn’t the Herald’s math a little off? If Hide’s part of the trip cost $26k then there is no way having a partner accompany him cost $25k unless their expenses mirrored each other’s and they stayed in separate rooms.
Not bloody likely.

She continues:
Actually the $25k included flights domestically from July to September, well apparently. The NZ Herald once again reaches for the bucket headline. Having the partner on this trip could not have cost $25k. The $25,163 referred to was actually from the Members expense disclosure and includes Hide's own travel which considering his electorate is in Epsom it is reasonable he has to travel back to.
In short, the journalists got it wrong. I do wish that sub-editors would check numbers as carefully as they do spelling, punctuation and grammar – as so often happens, these numbers simply do not mean what we are told they mean. As my theory of media numbers holds.


Cactus Kate said...

I'm still waiting for the breakdown. DPF has been conversing with the NZH to get it.

Stephen Stratford said...

For regular expat readers - hello London! hello Vila! hello Rarotonga! hello Sandwich, even! - David Farrar posts at, and the Sunday Star-Times front-page story is at In this Hide says the true cost to the taxpayer was about $5000. This one could run and run.