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Curioser and curioser? More Dom Post BS?

16 July 2011 3 comments

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The Dominion Post (hereinafter referred to as Dip), seems to have taken an exception to recently-elected Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, taking a trip to China and Japan.

Now, aside from the rightness or wrongness of our elected representatives going overseas (though in some cases, would it be unreasonable for some never to return?) – it seems curious that the DiP has made this a media story in terms of suggesting;

“…but what does Wellington and its ratepayers really have to gain?

Or,

“…But is it all worth it? It is costing ratepayers $19,000 for Ms Wade-Brown and economic portfolio leader Jo Coughlan to take part in a trip whose benefits to Wellington may not be immediately apparent.

Further down in the somewhat-lengthy article, it becomes quite apparent that the trip is far from a “pleasure junket”, along the lines of Rodney Hide taking his girlfriend to Britain, Canada and the United States (cost to taxpayer: $52,000); or Roger Douglas taking his wife to London to see their son and grandchildren (cost to taxpayer: $44,411).

Instead, this will involve visiting six cities in nine days (including Wellington’s sister cities Beijing, Xiamen and Sakai). Ms Prendergast described it as hard work,

“At these meetings in China the leader of the delegation is always expected to open and close the event with appropriate speeches. You are on duty all of the time . . . some days I would speak [up to] 10 times.”

Not exactly a laid-back junket, but the sounds of it.

Kerry Prendergast commented,

I was hosted by the mayor of Beijing to a dinner. Beijing has 22 million people and he hosted a private dinner for me and the senior members of our business delegation and matched them . . . with really senior people in the Chinese business community.

City property developer Ian Cassels stated that he,

“…probably had the same view as most uninformed people that this was a complete waste of time. You don’t get anything out of China unless you keep going back. If you see them once, they think you aren’t that interested. But once you’ve been there a few times, the respect and appreciation you get is enormous and there are big business opportunities for most of the people that go on the trade delegation.

And the cost to ratepayers: $19,000.

As a tax/ratepayer, I think I can tolerate $19,000 on what is essentially a business trip to “sell” (metaphorically) Wellington – as opposed to ACT MPs taking the mickey and spending nearly $100,000 on holidays, at our expense.

It is unfortunate that – whilst the article eventually presented an explanation as to why Ms Wade-Brown was going to China and Japan, that it started off with a suspicious view that she was somehow rorting the system.

For as long as I’ve known Ms Wade-Brown, I think it’s fairly safe to say that she’s one of the most honest politicians that we’ve had. Sad to say, we New Zealanders tend to elect some fairly dodgy characters to Parliament and Councils. Ms Wade-Brown is not one of them.

Would it be too much to ask the DiP to cut her some slack?

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