Mike's Minute: Why all the angst over David Hisco?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Monday, 24 June 2019, 9:37AM

I am not sure how many bits and pieces I have read now involving the demise of David Hisco and the headline grabbing story of chauffeur driven cars at ANZ. 

But a pattern has emerged. One, the story isn't over, given we now have a house involved that may or may not have some questions around it. Two, a lot of the commentary appears to have been driven by the usual antagonism towards people who earn large salaries, and work at big companies. 

Three, there might just be too much angst around the rules and regulations that govern certain industries and how they pay their top talent. Four, this doesn’t appear to be as big a deal as many are either making it out to be or want it to be. 

Firstly I think it's been conclusively shown that the chauffeur driven cars were in the end, just taxis. They were Corporate Cabs, you ring, a bloke in a car comes and takes you somewhere. The car might not be a 18-year-old Nissan, that would be an Uber. 

It's more likely a big Holden, but at no point is it a chauffeur driven car, it’s a cab. And in that small detail is an insight into how much of the noise around this is clearly driven by envy. 

My conclusion on the whole fiasco, as the current detail stands, is that this was a bloke who had an arrangement around his terms and conditions that might now be viewed by some as slightly old fashioned, if not a touch unusual. In other words he appeared to get a salary and a bunch of stuff on top, a grab bag of extras the company would foot the bill for. 

Where it seems to have fallen apart is that the deal might not have been written down clearly enough, if at all. A change of management might have seen a change of view, or attitude, around such practices. But a deal, and this is Hisco's argument, is still a deal. 

And the fact we might look on from the outside and be alarmed, shocked, surprised, or appalled doesn’t not make it a deal. 

Part of the trouble is the numbers are large, larger than most have experienced themselves, and certainly more than those writing about it are involved with personally. 

So you inevitably end up with a slanted view of matters based on perception, remembering perception has nothing to do with legality, or an arrangement between parties that essentially has nothing to do with the rest of us. 

If you agree to be paid a total of $100,000 a year, and $52,000 of that is split into $1000 a week, and the other $48,000 is paid out in cab fares, dinners out, and toilet rolls, and if you're happy and the person writing the cheque is happy, where is the trouble?

Of course, you can argue if Hisco had got the lot in wages and paid all his own expenses we wouldn't be here, would we? And John Key argues probably correctly banks have a special and unusual role in our economy, hence they have to be extra careful.  

But I'm a bit old fashioned, a deal is a deal. And given the messy part of the deal is hundreds of thousands over nine years, and he's forfeited $6 million in equity on the way out, I'd say he's got the hard end of it. 

After all it would seem he was liked, respected and successful. It's all just imploded over wine and transport. There is no crime, no one died, it seems an awfully big fuss over smallish beer.       

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