Apprentice Junketeers

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, Louisa Wall. Travelling with her are Labour public relations practitioner Conor Roberts, National communications adviser Willy Trolove, National researcher Kenny Clark, NZ First researcher Tony de Jong and Green Party researcher Hannah Scott. 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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