Apprentice Junketeers

May 14th, 2008 at 7:04 am by David Farrar

Yesterday’s Dom Post labels a young parliamentary group visiting Australia group as “apprentice junketeers” which is quite amusing.Six apprentice junketeers drawn from aspiring political leaders will be in Canberra today to listen to Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan deliver his budget.

The group flew to Australia late last week as part of an annual exchange programme.

According to Parliament’s Speaker, Margaret Wilson, the trip is designed to promote friendship and cooperation between New Zealand and Australia. It would expose the sextet of political up-and-comers to a different political, economic, social and cultural system.

The delegation leader is Labour’s new list MP, . Travelling with her are Labour public relations practitioner , National communications adviser , National researcher , NZ First researcher and Green Party researcher . The party will visit Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart.

Now I actually support exchanges such as these as an excellent investment. Almost all policy, fresh research and ideas come from overseas, and having young people involved in Parliament or politics gain first hand experience is as I say a good investment.

It is, in my mind, a very different case to a Speaker’s Tour when four of the five MPs on it are retiring. I have been critical of that trip because the participants are not going to be around to put the experience and contacts made to good use.

The media have been well justified to be sceptical of that particular trip. But I would hate that to be seen as a licence to dismiss all overseas travel as “junkets”. While some trips are better value than others, certainly a lot of Ministerial travel (for example) is damn exhausting work with almost no spare time at all.

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8 Responses to “Apprentice Junketeers”

  1. Craig Ranapia (1,912 comments) says:

    Now I actually support exchanges such as these as an excellent investment.

    So do I, DPF. Where we differ, I suspect, is that I just don’t think the tax-payer should be shelling out for them in 99.999% of cases. I suspect all parties are going to be sending delegations to the Democratic Convention in Denver or the GOP equivalent in Minneapolis, because it won’t only be a hell of a show but provide valuable insights and networking opportunities. Perhaps political parties should stop putting their hands out for corporate welfare, and invest in their own organisational and policy development.

    [DPF: As far as I know, those who attend party rather than parliamentary events pay their own way unless it is portfolio related. I certainly will be.]

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  2. Craig Ranapia (1,912 comments) says:

    BTW, DPF, if you’re looking for Orwellian newspeak Conor Roberts is not a “Labour public relations practitioner” — he’s a Labour party candidate not an MP or Parliamentary staffer (as far as I know). Perhaps his tab could be picked up by either the New Zealand Labour Party or his employer, Pead PR?

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  3. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    What-?? The mainstream media doing their job for once?? Exercising a bit of skepticism and daring to venture a perspective that might challenge the blurb in a government press release?? I didn’t read the paper, so I can’t accept it. Its just too much to believe.

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  4. insider (990 comments) says:

    These people appear to be party workers not Parliamentary Service administrative staff. I don’t see why we should be paying for their trip when it might be a lot more valuable to NZ and the parliamentary process to send some select committe clerks or library staff.

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  5. Craig Ranapia (1,912 comments) says:

    [DPF: As far as I know, those who attend party rather than parliamentary events pay their own way unless it is portfolio related. I certainly will be.]

    Again, I think we’re on the same page on principle. But isn’t ‘portofolio-related’ just vague enough to cover all kinds of sins. If my memory serves, Pete Hodgson and Trevor Mallard were in Sydney during the home stretch of last year’s Oz general election. Certainly hope they paid their own way, because I rather doubt they were there as Ministers of the Crown rather than campaign strategists. :)

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  6. Paul W (266 comments) says:

    I also agree that this is a much more defensible and sensible use of public resources, particularly when compared with the Speaker’s Tour. However this line from your original item:

    Almost all policy, fresh research and ideas come from overseas…

    …is a real concern!

    I don’t think it’s true, it’s not true from my experience. Overseas ideas and approaches are important, but they’re not a replacement for locally-developed solutions.

    I used to get really pissed off with some senior civil servants in NZ whose contribution could have been entirely and completely replaced by a single librarian with a few good journal subscriptions… a number in the education sector for instance.

    That said, lots of new policy comes from NZ Departments, NZ-based sector groups, NZ academics and the politicians themself – this last source is actually very important. I also used to get annoyed by researchers and staff who thought they knew it all but significantly underestimated the value and genuine insight MPs gained through their constituent work.

    [DPF: Yeah fair point - I over stated the case. I was more reflecting on the lack of policy initiatives from the public service than all domestic sources]

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,130 comments) says:

    Gee, I practice political communications, and I’d bet a substantial sum of money that I probably know more about it than most of these relative unknowns. So where do I go to apply for a ride on this gravy train? Here I’ve been paying my own way to conferences and the like, not realising all you had to do was ask. Or am I disqualified because the taxpayer isn’t already expected to pay my way? Without your nose in the trough I guess it’s impossible to actually follow that up with all four feet.

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  8. Paul W (266 comments) says:

    Yeah fair point – I over stated the case. I was more reflecting on the lack of policy initiatives from the public service than all domestic sources

    I don’t disagree. As I said, there’s a number of senior officers still working who’d be pretty easy to replace if only you could find the couple of hours a week to read relevant journals.

    Gee, I practice political communications, and I’d bet a substantial sum of money that I probably know more about it than most of these relative unknowns. So where do I go to apply for a ride on this gravy train? Here I’ve been paying my own way to conferences and the like, not realising all you had to do was ask.

    Rex, are you saying you’ve never been on study-trips or PD paid for by your employer? I think it’s actually quite sensible that Parliament invests in the quality of its younger staff. I suspect that you pay for your own PD with revenues generated from your commercial activities.

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