Fran has the facts on the Downer visit

Nothing like a dose of facts.  A few people had got all worked up about Downer speaking at the Party Conference last weekend.

Fran O’Sullivan reveals that:

Downer briefed Clark on the invitation well before the conference, going so far as to indicate the subject matter for what at that stage was supposed to be a public speech. He intended to affirm the importance of the bilateral relationship and focus on liberal values.

Clark was not opposed. Labour has, after all, extended invitations to high-ranking Labour politicians to attend its own mid-term annual conferences.

Then British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott gave a great speech to Labour’s conference in December 2001, reaffirming the links between Britain and New Zealand in times of peace and war.

No one batted an eyelid either when Queensland Premier Peter Beattie spoke on environmental policies at last year’s Labour Party conference.

Clark, as much as any other politician, is aware of the brotherhood between politicians of similar hues. She makes a practice of attending Progressive Governance conferences where political leaders with democratic or Labour values discuss the big issues facing the world from their perspective.

She has gone so far as to form an alliance with the British Labour Government on policy formation.

If Clark had raised opposition to the Downer visit, the Australian Foreign Minister would simply have found a reason not to accept National Party president Judy Kirk’s invitation.

Incidentally was chatting to Downer last night and he was quite blown away by the standing ovation he got in NZ.  But he shouldn’t have been – it was a superb speech.  I got him to retell to the group we were with the story of him getting home to his young kids chanting anti-Downer songs at home.

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