Sep 15, 2008

More Developments On Las vegas

Hooton has an interesting update on developments including news that George Calvert has been tracked down.

Here is Hooton's post:

MySunday night RadioLIVE co-host Mike King spoke to George Calvert last night, and George swears he did not pay for Foreign Minister Winston Peters’ “sidetrip” to Las Vegas when “enroute” from Berlin to Singapore. It is good to know that at least someone can get Winston to pay for his own drinks, so well done George! If the Foreign Minister received nothing on the trip worth more than $500, then there is no issue with the financing of the trip, and nothing had to be declared.
But here is the problem for Helen Clark and why the Las Vegas “sidetrip” requires answers from her.
As reported yesterday, Helen Clark was required to have approved the whole trip, including the sidetrip - see
Cabinet Office Manual. It seems difficult to believe that Helen Clark would have approved such a “sidetrip”. As discussed yesterday, this was a pretty extraordinary 36-hour-or-so sidetrip, taking Peters half way around the world, instead of the “short” 14 hour hop from Berlin to Singapore on Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
If Helen Clark approved the trip, she is condoning such an extravaganza by her Foreign Minister, who was meant to be working. And it seems unlikely she would have approved such a personal request from any other Minister. Can you imagine if Education Minister had an education conference to attend in Berlin one day, and another education conference in Singapore a couple of days later, and Helen Clark approving a half-way-round-the-world detour via, say, the New Orleans Mardi Gras?
It seems implausible. What sort of prime minister has ministers galavanting around the world, via the United States, on personal whims between important diplomatic business in Berlin and Singapore? (If Peters went economy class from Berlin to Las Vegas to Singapore, then that makes his conduct - and the Prime Minister’s approval of it - even worse.)
But if Clark did not approve the “sidetrip”, then she has a rogue minister, who is failing to follow the rules with respect to ministerial travel, ignoring the Cabinet Office Manual and making her look foolish.
So which is it Prime Minister: Did you really approve this “sidetrip” as the rules require? Or did Winston think the rules don’t apply to him? And you don’t bother enforcing them anymore?